Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

Fiestas de San Francisco

At a Glance

Chapala’s nine-day novenario for its patron saint, Saint Francis, including daily processions & nightly music with fireworks castles.

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Just like most of Mexico, each town at Lake Chapala has its own patron saint and patroness.

Each usually gets its own traditional nine-day novenario, which includes daily processions with Aztec dancers, music, fireworks, and carnival rides.

Chapala’s patron saint is Saint Francis, whose novenario starts on September 26 and lasts until October 4. Each day is sponsored by a different group of people in the town, such as gardeners, carpenters, masons, bus drivers or garbage workers.

Evening Processions

The evening processions will start from a different part of Chapala each day, which is different than in years past when the same route has been used for each procession.

The processions will normally start at 6 p.m. every day. On October 3, there will be an additional procession at 4:00 at the bus station.

And then later on October 3 there will be another procession at 6 p.m. starting on Avenue Francisco Madero in front of the 7-11.

All of the processions will end at Church San Francisco near the malecón:

If you have trouble locating the procession, you can use the sound of the exploding rockets, called cohetes, to help you locate the progress of the procession. Just keep your ears open for the loud explosions 100 feet above the town and head in that direction.

This photo shows a cohetero launching a cohete during 2018’s Fiestas de San Andrés in Ajijic:

Fiestas de San Andrés.

Last updated October 3, 2019

Dane Strom

Dane Strom The Lakeside Guide

I moved to Ajijic in 2010 when I decided to quit my job of seven years as an editorial assistant at The Denver Post in Colorado. I'm the photographer, web designer, programmer, marketer, writer... the everything behind this website, The Lakeside Guide. All of the businesses on this website appear here for free at no cost to them. If you find this site useful, please consider giving a small donation to become a site patron. Learn more about The Lakeside Guide or check out my other website about photography of Mexico.

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Photos of Fiestas de San Francisco

The fiestas in Chapala for the town's patron saint, St. Francis, last nine days. Each day is sponsored by a different organization or group of workers such as the taxi drivers.

The fiestas in Chapala for the town's patron saint, St. Francis, last nine days. Each day is sponsored by a different organization or group of workers such as the taxi drivers.

Parishioners and the parade sponsors follow at the end of the procession, while the floats, Aztec dancers and marching bands lead the way.

Parishioners and the parade sponsors follow at the end of the procession, while the floats, Aztec dancers and marching bands lead the way.

The day that the truckers sponsor the fiestas.

The day that the truckers sponsor the fiestas.

Aztec dancer Humberto Ayala stands in front of a bus in 2018 on the day when the bus drivers sponsored the fiestas.

Aztec dancer Humberto Ayala stands in front of a bus in 2018 on the day when the bus drivers sponsored the fiestas.

A man poses as St. Francis on a float during one of the evening processions.

A man poses as St. Francis on a float during one of the evening processions.

Gustavo beats the drums which keep the rhythm going for the dancers to follow.

Gustavo beats the drums which keep the rhythm going for the dancers to follow.

Concepción Del Rosario Delgado dances during one of the processions for St. Francis.

Concepción Del Rosario Delgado dances during one of the processions for St. Francis.

Cristina Aguilar dances in a procession. Aztec dancers who take part in Catholic religious processions are also called concheros.

Cristina Aguilar dances in a procession. Aztec dancers who take part in Catholic religious processions are also called concheros.

A car full of people watches and waits for the procession to pass.

A car full of people watches and waits for the procession to pass.

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Moises Martínez dances during a procession.

Moises Martínez dances during a procession.

A feathered headdress, called a copili, worn by one of the concheros.

A feathered headdress, called a copili, worn by one of the concheros.

Kids watch the procession while riding giant rocking horses.

Kids watch the procession while riding giant rocking horses.

A mariachi watches the procession go by.

A mariachi watches the procession go by.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Aztec Dancer on Mezcala Island

Aztec Dancer on Mezcala Island

Jaime Rodríguez stands on top of the fort walls on Mezcala Island, a half-mile stretch of land rising out of Lake Chapala, Mexico. A local indigenous group successfully used the island as a fortress against the Spanish during the War of Independence in the early 19th century.

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María Isabel Alcantar dances during a procession.

María Isabel Alcantar dances during a procession.

Silvia Becerra dances with the incense smoker, a special role attained for a selected few after a few years of dancing in the group.

Silvia Becerra dances with the incense smoker, a special role attained for a selected few after a few years of dancing in the group.

A dancer named Arturo takes part in the procession.

A dancer named Arturo takes part in the procession.

A dog watches all the commotion go by.

A dog watches all the commotion go by.

Humberto Ayala takes part in a procession for St. Francis while carrying a photo of his deceased sister.

Humberto Ayala takes part in a procession for St. Francis while carrying a photo of his deceased sister.

Francisco López dances during one of the processions.

Francisco López dances during one of the processions.

A drum marching band always accompanies the processions.

A drum marching band always accompanies the processions.

An image of St. Francis is carried by parishioners at the rear of the procession. On the far right is Moy Anaya, Chapala's mayor.

An image of St. Francis is carried by parishioners at the rear of the procession. On the far right is Moy Anaya, Chapala's mayor.

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The image of St. Francis arrives at the church after one of the evening processions. In the background is the wooden structure of a fireworks castle which is lit each night at around 10 p.m.

The image of St. Francis arrives at the church after one of the evening processions. In the background is the wooden structure of a fireworks castle which is lit each night at around 10 p.m.

The fireworks castles, called, castillos, are made of wooden towers with spinnable wheels. They're strapped with fireworks which, when lit, propel the moveable spinning parts into action.

The fireworks castles, called, castillos, are made of wooden towers with spinnable wheels. They're strapped with fireworks which, when lit, propel the moveable spinning parts into action.

Workers spend part of the afternoons during the fiestas assembling the castillos.

Workers spend part of the afternoons during the fiestas assembling the castillos.

Church San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Chapala, Mexico.

Church San Francisco (Saint Francis) in Chapala, Mexico.

The dancers enter the church ahead of the crowd and the image of St. Francis.

The dancers enter the church ahead of the crowd and the image of St. Francis.

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Church-goers await the arrival of St. Francis into the church.

Church-goers await the arrival of St. Francis into the church.

The image arrives in the church while people touch the case as it goes by.

The image arrives in the church while people touch the case as it goes by.

Parishioners wait for the mass to start.

Parishioners wait for the mass to start.

A thurifer disperses incense smoke with a thurible while on his way to the front of the church.

A thurifer disperses incense smoke with a thurible while on his way to the front of the church.

A 12-piece banda plays inside the church before the 7 o'clock mass begins.

A 12-piece banda plays inside the church before the 7 o'clock mass begins.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Lake Chapala escaramuza framed fine art print

La Charra

Escaramuza cowgirl Jaqui Gómez rides her horse along the shore of Lake Chapala, Mexico. “La charrería is a sport that gets everyone’s attention, but few understand it.”

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Purchase This Fine Art Print
The concheros dance in the atrium outside the church after the procession has ended and the people have entered.

The concheros dance in the atrium outside the church after the procession has ended and the people have entered.

The mass during the final evening of the Fiestas, on October 4, is held outside on the church atrium.

The mass during the final evening of the Fiestas, on October 4, is held outside on the church atrium.

The sponsors of the last day's Fiestas hand out steamed corn after the evening procession.

The sponsors of the last day's Fiestas hand out steamed corn after the evening procession.

Concheros dance through a sudden downpour after one of the evening processions for St. Francis in Chapala, Mexico.

Concheros dance through a sudden downpour after one of the evening processions for St. Francis in Chapala, Mexico.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Dance of the Niño Dormido

Dance of the Sleeping Child

A father & daughter perform an ancient dance from Mexico’s southernmost state, Chiapas.

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Purchase This Fine Art Print

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