The Oaxacan coast is, without a doubt, one of Mexico’s treasures. The many beaches are not overrun with tourists, and you can get a real feel of genuine Oaxacan culture. Up and down the coastline, villages still have that unique fishing culture character that blends in perfectly well with the surfer vibe. Music, dance, and good food are all make this place special.
In addition, amazing events and activities can be found year round. Festivals here can be religious, secular and political; and a major part of life in Mexico. Every town, city, and state holds its own festivals throughout the year commemorating religious and historic figures. In certain parts of the country, it sometimes feels like the festivities never die down. There is not a single day when you will find the events schedule empty! You only need to decide what you want to do that day.
Huatulco, Puerto Escondido, Mazunte, Zipolite
Puerto Escondido is internationally-renowned for its yearly surf competitions. Gigantic waves come barreling down every year between April and October. Huatulco has swimming bays, music events and restaurants that are internationally famous. Nearby, Mazunte and Zipolite are known for their quaint villages and surfing beaches. The surrounding coastal towns also host a wide variety of music festivals, food fairs, fishing events, and even a yearly nudist beach festival.
This article highlights many of the regular events along our coast. There are also hundreds of other activities that you will find interesting. In Crucecita, for example, there are regular “photo walks” with professional photographers to show you how and where to get beautiful images of your time here. You only need to check Facebook for the location and use the words “events” or “activities.” A current schedule will pop up and all you have to do is choose.
So look through this list and you will find more than enough to occupy your entire day or week or month… or a lifetime if you choose to join our paradise.
Bahias de Huatulco
El Festival del Sueño – January
The annual “Dream Festival” by the Bacaanda Foundation/El Sueño Zapateco is a fun and exciting festival raising money to benefit the schools in the rural areas of Oaxaca. It is held each January in the Guelaguetza Park next to Marina Park Plaza in Santa Cruz. There are food, games and raffles! It is a colorful and wonderful evening that benefits a large number of children.
Jazz Club – January
Louie's Jazz Club gathers some of the best musicians to play live Jazz at the club. In the past, world class jazz artists from Cuba, United States, and Mexico participated in these events. You should check the Facebook page for current listings of dates and artists. If you love Jazz, you will want to add this to your list.
Blues on the Beach – January & February
Blues on the Beach is held in January and February on Chahue Beach from 8-11 pm. There is dancing, singing and lots of fun in the sand! The music is performed by well-known artists, both international and local. Tickets are available at the door but it is recommended that you purchase your tickets in advance. The cost is 400 pesos; if you would like to reserve a seat it is an additional 200 pesos for each. This is a highly anticipated event in the community and always a wonderful evening! The “Blues on the Beach” concerts raise funds for Un Nuevo Amanacer, a local provider of support and therapy programs for children.
Annual Art Show – February
Beginning in 2013, the Annual Art Show is held every February.This year, Canadian artist MJ Kelly along with the Colectivo Tilcoatle and Hashtag Huatulco have organized THE SPIRIT OF ART. It is an exhibition of art in the most diverse visual forms – painting, sculpture, engraving, photography – with a look towards the future. Local and international artists display their works. The location will vary from year to year but the show is always interesting and fun. The works are for sale and proceeds benefit different causes.
Regatta Huatulco – February
Come and spend a morning each February at the Santa Cruz Beach cheering on the Annual Regatta athletes or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can sign up for either the 15km or 30km route. Start point is Santa Cruz Beach @ ‘La Playa' Restaurant. The races start at 7am for the 30km race and 8:00am for the 15km race. More information is on the Facebook page or website.
ITU Triathalon World Cup – April
Santa Cruz Bay has been home for the Annual ITU Triathlon Word Cup for many years. It is an event that takes place throughout the entire Bahias de Huatulco area. There are elite athletes from all over the world who compete over a sprint-distance course featuring a 750-metre ocean swim, 20-kilometre bike ride and 5-kilometre run course. The course is always lined with Mexican and international support showing their passion for the sport and loyalty to their home heroes of triathlon. The event is broadcast and the prizes are awarded on the last day of the event. Pick out your viewing spots early – the town fills up fast!
Annual Fishing Tournament – May
This annual May tournament grows bigger and better each year. A mere 80 fishermen entered the inaugural event in 1992; in 2019, 600 anglers cast their lines eight miles beyond Huatulco's sparkling shores. As an eco-resort, Huatulco leads the way in conservation. Our local tournament has a policy of “Catch and Release” in two of the four categories. This is made possible with the ease of video photography. Both marlin and sailfish are released after they have been weighed and measured on camera. This policy, which was introduced in 2017, should ensure that more anglers will pull in even bigger catches in years to come.
Guelaguetza – July
The Guelaguetza celebrations across the entire State of Oaxaca are the most colorful and exhilarating of the multitude of festivals in Oaxaca. They date from pre-Hispanic times and in a state with 16 different indigenous cultures, each with its own unique traditions including language, food, music, dress and dance, the annual July extravaganza draws both Mexican nationals and tourists from all corners of the globe. Events are held the last two Mondays in July in different areas. Check Facebook or Google it on the internet for specifics. This is an event you should not miss!! The colors and music are unbelievably beautiful and the foods are exquisite!
Independence Day – September
On September 15 and 16, everyone celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain with parades, picnics, and family reunions across the nation. The main event takes place in Mexico City but every village and town has festivities including parades, music, food and fireworks. Buildings are draped with the national colors of red, green and white. Light displays are set up and enjoyed after dark! It is a happy, noisy, colorful event.
Día de los Muertos – November
This national holiday actually lasts for 2 days: November 1st is All Saints' Day and honors saints and deceased children. November 2nd is All Souls' Day and honors deceased adults. Relatives gather at cemeteries countrywide, carrying candles, marigolds and food, and often spend the night beside graves of loved ones telling stories, playing music and sharing food. Weeks before these days, bakers make bread in the shape of mummies or round loaves decorated with bread “bones.” Sugar skulls are sold everywhere. Homes and churches erect altars laden with bread, fruit, flowers, candles, favorite foods, and photographs of saints and of the deceased. On both nights, costumed children walk through the streets, often carrying mock coffins and pumpkin lanterns, into which they expect money to be dropped. It is a colorful, endearing event that should not be missed.
Revolution Day – November
This nationwide holiday on November 20th commemorates the start of the Mexican Revolution in 1910 with parades, speeches, rodeos, and patriotic events. Mexican celebrations are always fun and full of good food, music and color!
Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe – December
In one of the country's most moving and beautiful traditions, the Virgin of Guadalupe (the patroness of Mexico) is honored with processions, street fairs, dancing, fireworks and Masses. It is said that the Virgin of Guadalupe appeared to a young man, Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin, in December 1531 on a hill near Mexico City. During the celebrations it is customary for children to dress up as Juan Diego, wearing mustaches and red bandannas. In Crucecita we have the Iglesia de la Crucecita (Church of Crucecita) that has the world's largest painting of the Virgin on it's ceiling. People come from all over the world to see it – especially on her Feast Day. The Feast Day is celebrated on December 12th but from December 1st through the 12th there are many special events.
Organic Market – Monthly
On the first and third Saturday of each month there is an Organic Market held in the Santa Cruz town Square. During the ‘High Season” the Market is held every Saturday. From 8 am until 2 pm you can browse the fruits, vegetables, flowers, coffee and handicrafts. And at the same time you will enjoy live music and locally sourced food treats. All are produced here in Oaxaca by Oaxacan farmers and craftspeople. All the produce is raised sustainably and organically. The entire village of Santa Cruz and beyond come out to socialize and experience this regular event.
Encuentro de Cocineros – Monthly
On the last Sunday of each month in the Santa Cruz Square, a collection of great chefs in our area get together and create delicious treats around one particular ingredient – for example, shrimp or beef or Italian. The meal begins at 2 pm until about 4 or 5 pm, Visitors pay $150 pesos for 5 tickets and can then have a taste of the creations that most interest them. All of the chefs donate their time and supplies and therefore all the money collected for an event goes to a group or organization chosen that particular month. Everyone has a great time under the trees!
Film Series – Monthly
Every month Huaulco's local Colectivo Tilcoatle sponsors a themed film series. Each Wednesday of the month, at 8:00 PM, one of the selected films is shown at the Colectivo's center at 410 Chacah in La Crucecita. The films are almost always indie, alternative, edgy, and often foreign. Subtitles are usually in Spanish, if the film is foreign, so be prepared to practice your Spanish comprehension. There's no cost to attend the film, but you can make a donation to the Colectivo or purchase a drink while you're there to support the cause!
Amigos de la Musica – Various Dates
Amigos de la Música de Huatulco is the creation of Carminia Magaña, enchanting audiences in Huatulco with concerts, performances, and art events for many years. The event promotes local, national, and international musicians for the enjoyment of residents and visitors to Bahias de Huatulco. In their first year, the group developed a sponsorship system to cover costs and it is a key factor in establishing Amigos de la Música’s identity as “the community working for the community.” Events are listed on the Facebook page and tickets can be purchased for each performance at a reasonable price.
Festival Nudista en Playa Zipolite – February
Zipolite is home to the only recognized clothing-optional beach on the coast of Oaxaca. Every year they hold a Nudist Festival where you can practice nude yoga, do some bodypainting, compete in beach volleyball, attend concerts, and much more. Make sure to check the Facebook page to keep up with all the activities happening during the festival.
Punta Cometa – March
Punta Cometa is a magical place and a centuries-old ceremonial center. The location on a point of land that reaches out into the Pacific Ocean provides 180 degree visibility of the sea. And its geographical position is also aligned with many constellations. It has an amazing biodiversity with several important medicine plants, including copal that is used in healing ceremonies and in the Catholic Church.
Archeological remains exist here that tell of ancient ceremonies celebrating the solstice, equinox, and lighting the ‘new fire.' The same ceremonies are still celebrated to this day by groups such as the Huichol of the states of Nayarit and Jalisco and the dancers concheros who visit this place to light the new fire and dance on the days of equinox. Also, because of the monolithic construction of stones that surrounds this place temazcales and wedding celebrations are performed on full moon nights. With a little searching you can find out when there is a celebration that you might witness or participate in at Punta Cometa.
Festival de Circo de Mazunte & Oaxaca – March
Young and old can participate, and assist, in circus events in Mazunte during the Festival de Circo de Mazunte & Oaxaca. There are free circus shows each day in the Zocalo or you can participate in some of the circus workshops available during the event. Have a look at the official Facebook page for details about dates and all activities surrounding the circus festival. The Festival de Circo de Mazunte & Oaxaca is more than just clowns!
The Festival Internacional de Jazz de Mazunte has grown into a renowned yearly music event that attracts thousands of local and international visitors every year to the area. The three-day event hosts numerous free music concerts from international musicians, local artisan exhibitions, food fairs, dance shows, and much more. Mazunte is a small town and gets quite crowded during the Jazz festival so plan ahead. Their event dates and artists are listed on the Facebook page.
Surf Competitions – April to October
Surf Open Puerto Escondido Cup hits Zicatela Beach when the waves reach between 6 meters and 20 meters every year. Renowned Mexican and International surfers come to tear into the challenging waves and compete for top place. Make sure to check out the website for exact dates. Puerto Escondido is internationally-renowned for its yearly surf competitions on Zicatela beach. Professional surfers flock to the area to tackle the gigantic waves that come barreling down every year between the months of April and October.
Las Fiestas de Noviembre – November
Fiestas de Noviembre is one of the most important events of the year in Puerto Escondido. It is a month-long festival where you can attend a variety of music and dance shows, food fairs, beauty contests, surf and fishing competitions, motocross races, and much more. The month's events include the annual Pipeline of Mexico, Zicatela Beach's International Surfing Tournament, the International Sailfish Tournament, and the Coastal Dance Festival. No one gets bored in Puerto Escondido during the month of November. There is something going on every day and every evening. Check out the Facebook page to get all the details about the daily activities.
Puerto Fest – November
Puerto Fest is another fun-filled few days of music, dancing, food, and mezcal tastings with lots of fireworks and parades. Music shows vary from blues, salsa, rock, and cumbia. There’s a little bit of everything for everybody. Check the schedule on Facebook.
Puerto Escondido Film Festival – December
How about watching a movie on the beach? Festival del Puerto is for you if you enjoy watching independent Mexican movies with your feet in the sand. Mexico has an abundance of talented filmmakers. A selection committee chooses projections each year. Films are shown over several days and are sometimes subtitled in English. A great way to discover new talent and immerse yourself in Mexican contemporary culture! Get a list of the films on the official website. Dates, times and locations are shown on each movie. Venues range from Zicatela Market to La Punta. https://www.festivaldelpuerto.com/peliculas