Lakeside Guide to Lake Chapala, Ajijic, Mexico

Mexican Independence Day

At a Glance

Despite most people’s misunderstanding, Cinco de Mayo commemorates a Mexican victory over French forces in Puebla — not Mexico’s independence from Spain, which is celebrated on September 16.

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Independence Day is one of Mexico’s biggest and most-proud-to-be-Mexican of holidays.

Celebrating the 1821 independence of Mexico from Spanish rule, Ajijic’s fiestas patrias can last for up to a week, encompassing the Regata de Globos the weekend before, plus events on days before and after the September 16 holiday.

Highlight: El Grito

Be sure to visit the Ajijic plaza after 10 p.m. on September 15 for the recital of El Grito de Dolores by the town’s delegado (the closest thing to a mayor that the town has).

Mexican Independence Day

This recital occurs all over Mexico at the same time on Independence Day Eve: delegados, mayors and even the president reciting the famous battle cry that Hidalgo gave in 1810, which stirred the people into battle and eventually led to the independence of a nation.

It’s short (you’ll end up waiting a lot longer for it start than it actually takes to recite), but sweet, and an important part of Mexico’s history.

2019 Independence Day Info

The Independence Day celebrations in Ajijic last around a week and incorporate the Regata de Globos.

The full schedule for 2019 is below:

Schedule for Independence Day 2019 Ajijic, Mexico schedule 1

Schedule for Independence Day 2019 Ajijic, Mexico schedule 2

September 16 Parade Route

The Independence Day parade always starts at 10 a.m. on the street Constitución, near where the bottom of the weekly tianguis (market day) is held. It ends about an hour later at the plaza.

After the parade, the fiesta continues at the plaza and at the malecón. Check out the traditional combate de flores at 6 p.m. in the plaza, which is a flower/confetti fight. There will also be lots of traditional foods and beverages being sold by families all evening until they’re sold out.

The 16th of September would be a good night to go to the plaza for dinner to get some enchiladas, sopes, pozole or other Mexican foods.

Last updated September 21, 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 Mexican Independence Day

The Independence Day celebrations in Ajijic start a day or two before September 16. One of the events is the palo encebado.

The Independence Day celebrations in Ajijic usually start before the official holiday, often getting tied together into a week-long event starting with the regata de globos, the Day of the Charro and ending with the Independence Day celebrations on September 15 and 16.

From around 3-7 p.m. at the plaza in Ajijic on the 15th, there are games for the kids and adults, including the palo encebado (the greasy pole).

From around 3-7 p.m. at the plaza in Ajijic on the 15th, there are games for the kids and adults, including the palo encebado (the greasy pole).

The palo encebado originated in Naples, Italy, as a pastime in the 16th century and is now part of the culture of many Latin American countries. A pole is raised and greased.

The palo encebado originated in Naples, Italy, as a pastime in the 16th century and is now part of the culture of many Latin American countries. A pole is raised and greased.

And then kids stand on each other to get to the top.

And then kids stand on each other to get to the top.

Once they are high enough, they grab the prizes that are hanging.

Once they are high enough, they grab the prizes that are hanging.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Masked Zayacos of Ajijic

The Masked Zayacos of Ajijic, Mexico

Masked “zayacos” prowl the town bullring, a unique Carnival-time tradition in Ajijic, Mexico.

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The prizes are household items such as a mop, liquid soaps, cereal, cooking oil, plasticware or paper towels.

The prizes are household items such as a mop, liquid soaps, cereal, cooking oil, plasticware or paper towels.

Kids participate in other games, too, including food hanging on strings, like these donuts.

Kids participate in other games, too, including food hanging on strings, like these donuts.

An altar for friends and family members, including a teenager, made by his grandmother, Beatriz.

Deciphering the Meaning Behind the Day of the Dead Altar

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See this Photo Essay
Or these apples.

Or these apples.

Or this plate covered with icing and coins.

Or this plate covered with icing and coins.

And sack hopping races.

And sack hopping races.

Adults get to compete in chile-eating competitions.

Adults get to compete in chile-eating competitions.

And beer chugging competitions with caguamas (40-oz beers).

And beer chugging competitions with caguamas (40-oz beers).

The prizes for adults are bottles of tequila which are donated by the crowd. If you want to show up with a bottle or buy one from one of the three liquor stores encircling the plaza, it would be appreciated.

The prizes for adults are bottles of tequila which are donated by the crowd. If you want to show up with a bottle or buy one from one of the three liquor stores encircling the plaza, it would be appreciated.

The plaza gets decorated with banderas and patriotic colors and themes.

The plaza gets decorated with banderas and patriotic colors and themes.

Flavio Aniceto sells his homemade ice cream at all the events and fiestas in Ajijic.

Flavio Aniceto sells his homemade ice cream at all the events and fiestas in Ajijic.

Another event that takes place during the town's fiestas patrias is the rebozo contest, a garment similar to a shawl that's synonymous with Mexican identity. It's still common in rural areas and this annual contest is a way of preserving the tradition.

Another event that takes place during the town's fiestas patrias is the rebozo contest. The rebozo is a garment similar to a shawl that's synonymous with Mexican identity. It's still common in rural areas and this annual contest is a way of preserving the tradition. The 2019 contest takes place Sunday, September 8 at 6 p.m. in the plaza.

Mariachi Real Axixic plays traditional mariachi music in the town plaza.

Mariachi Real Axixic plays traditional mariachi music in the town plaza.

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Mariachi is one of Mexico's most popular and emblematic forms of music. It originated in Western Mexico, with some stories placing the birth of modern mariachi in Cocula, Jalisco.

Mariachi is one of Mexico's most popular and emblematic forms of music. It originated in Western Mexico, with some stories placing the birth of modern mariachi in Cocula, Jalisco.

You can expect mariachi in the plaza during the evenings/nights of September 15 and 16.

You can expect mariachi in the plaza during the evenings/nights of September 15 and 16.

Mario Farías competes during a singing competition in the plaza.

Mario Farías competes during a singing competition in the plaza.

Mario has a powerful voice and is usually the winner of the competition each year.

Mario has a powerful voice and is usually the winner of the competition each year.

Inside the Graveyard Mausoleums of Mexico

Inside the Graveyard Mausoleums of Mexico

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See this Photo Essay
Ballet folclórico is usually part of the evening's activities at the plaza on the nights of the 15th and 16th of September. It's basically the national catalog of Mexican folk dances which are traditional in regions and states from all across the country.

Ballet folclórico is usually part of the evening's activities at the plaza on the nights of the 15th and 16th of September. It's basically the national catalog of Mexican folk dances which are traditional in regions and states from all across the country.

Citlali Solano performs the dance, 'India Bonita,' which comes from the state of Sinaloa.

Citlali Solano performs the dance, "India Bonita," which comes from the state of Sinaloa.

Bietsy Pulido performs a dance which the dancers in this group call, 'Ollas' (pots), which comes from Michoacán.

Bietsy Pulido performs a dance which the dancers in this group call, "Ollas" (pots), which comes from Michoacán.

While watching a ballet folclórico performance, you'll get a state-by-state tour through Mexico's dress, dance, music, and traditions.

While watching a ballet folclórico performance, you'll get a state-by-state tour through Mexico's dress, dance, music, and traditions.

The town delegado, Chuni Medeles, waves the Mexican flag after reciting El Grito on September 15 in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

The town delegado, Chuni Medeles, waves the Mexican flag after reciting El Grito in the Ajijic plaza. The original Grito, or Cry of Dolores, was recited by Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo on September 16, 1810, which initiated an 11-year war for independence from Spain. Today, the President of Mexico recites El Grito at 11 p.m. every September 15 in the zócalo plaza in Mexico City. The tradition is also observed in towns and cities across Mexico.

Ajijic's newly crowned reina (queen) and princesas (princesas). The beauty pageant is a part of the town's fiestas patrias and the annual coronation takes place in the plaza on the Saturday before Independence Day.

Ajijic's newly crowned reina (queen) and princesas (princesas). The beauty pageant is a part of the town's fiestas patrias and the annual coronation takes place in the plaza on the Saturday before Independence Day.

The Independence Day parade starts at 10 a.m. on September 16 at Constitución and Revolución in Ajijic.

The Independence Day parade starts at 10 a.m. on September 16 at Constitución and Revolución in Ajijic, at the south end of where the tianguis take place.

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Gaby Gucho was the queen of the Association of Charros in 2016.

Gaby Gucho was the queen of the Association of Charros in 2016.

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The parade has lots of charros, vaqueros, and escaramuzas, dressed in some of their finest, such as Daniel Medeles, leader of Mariachi Real Axixic.

The parade has lots of charros, vaqueros, and escaramuzas, dressed in some of their finest, such as Daniel Medeles, leader of Mariachi Real Axixic.

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Townspeople watch the parade pass outside their house.

Townspeople watch the parade pass outside their house.

Sayaca during Fiesta de San Sebastián

Carnival & the Masked Sayacas of Ajijic

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See this Photo Essay
A sombrero leaves the face of an escaramuza in shadow as she passes in front of a green wall.

A sombrero leaves the face of an escaramuza in shadow as she passes in front of a green wall.

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A charro rides his horse during the Independence Day parade in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

A charro rides his horse during the Independence Day parade in Ajijic, Jalisco, Mexico.

A charro's boot.

A charro's boot.

Vaqueros ride during the parade.

Vaqueros ride during the parade.

On Independence Day in Ajijic, Regino rides with a little friend who wanted to change his name to Regino, Jr.

On Independence Day in Ajijic, Regino rides with a little friend who wanted to change his name to Regino, Jr.

'Regino, Jr.'

"Regino, Jr."

Two girls ride in the parade as a butterfly passes overhead.

Two girls ride in the parade as a butterfly passes overhead.

An escaramuza. Escaramuzas ride side saddle on their horses.

An escaramuza. Escaramuzas ride side saddle on their horses.

A charro holds his little escaramuza tight while riding together in the parade.

A charro holds his little escaramuza tight while riding together in the parade.

A little charro yawns during the parade.

A little charro yawns during the parade.

Sayaca during Fiesta de San Sebastián

Carnival & the Masked Sayacas of Ajijic

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See this Photo Essay
A dog belonging to one of the cowboys follows the parade down the street Constitución.

A dog belonging to one of the cowboys follows the parade down the street Constitución.

A charro rides during the Independence Day parade.

A charro rides during the Independence Day parade.

An escaramuza in a purple dress.

An escaramuza in a purple dress.

An escaramuza charra in a yellow dress.

An escaramuza charra in a yellow dress.

People watch the parade go by their home, while one man snoozes, on Independence Day in Ajijic.

People watch the parade go by their home, while one man snoozes, on Independence Day in Ajijic.

Juan Flores hold the Mexican flag and leads the Independence Day parade.

Juan Flores hold the Mexican flag and leads the Independence Day parade.

Juan Flores and Paola Higuera.

Juan Flores and Paola Higuera.

It's never too early in the morning to start drinking tequila, especially on the 16 de Septiembre.

It's never too early in the morning to start drinking tequila, especially on the 16 de Septiembre.

A vaquero in front of a storefront during the parade.

A vaquero in front of a storefront during the parade.

Townspeople watch the parade go by.

Townspeople watch the parade go by.

A banda plays at the plaza after the parade has ended.

A banda plays at the plaza after the parade has ended.

Fine Art Photography of Lake Chapala

Dance of the Little Old Men

Dance of the Little Old Men

A boy in Pátzcuaro, Michoacán, performs La Danza de los Viejitos, the Dance of the Little Old Men, a traditional dance from Michoacan.

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Purchase This Fine Art Print

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