Guadalajara, Mexico’s City of Roses… and for ten days every September, home to the largest gathering of Mariachis in the world, known as the International Mariachi Festival. Each year thousands of Mariachis come from as far away as Japan and Croatia to participate in this magical celebration of culture, music and nationalism that for many, defines the classic Mexican experience.
Perhaps nothing exemplifies the culture of Guadalajara more than the site of Mariachis clad in their familiar costumes performing one of their signature songs. Who has visited Mexico and has not at least dreamed of a full throated Mariachi belting out Guadalajara or dancing playfully to Mariachi Loco while you are dining at one of the local hangouts?
It is a genre of music, indeed a subculture unto itself, that has drawn fans from around the world. Brought to life in Cocula, Jalisco, a small suburb two hours outside of Guadalajara in the 16th Century, a typical Mariachi back in those days consisted of a violin, vihuela (a five string guitar) and a traditional six string guitar. As the music grew in popularity, other instruments were added including the familiar trumpets and basses many Mariachis sport today.
This is the first weekend of the annual festival which began Thursday, August 29 and runs until Saturday, September 7. Events are held all across Guadalajara and the surrounding cities of Zapopan, Tlaquepaque and Tonala.
Like many cultural festivals in Mexico, you need tickets, or great connections to get into the main events held at the historic Teatro Degollado. However there are hundreds of free events featuring the very best that mariachi music has to offer all over town.
Many of the groups make regular appearances in churches, performing for masses all over this great city and of course can always be found in Mariachi Plaza and in the historic city center in Plaza Tapatia where I ran into the world famous Mariachi Alma Tapatia. So next time you get the urge to experience a great Mariachi, join me in My Mexico and maybe I’ll introduce you to Diego!