Although this week has been a banner one for local events–including Mexican Independence Day celebrations and the national surf championship in San José del Cabo–the real event season in Los Cabos begins on October.
Traditionally the start of high tourist season, this month brings many of the signature regional to-dos, from big game fishing tournaments and other sporting competitions to rock concerts and film festivals. By December, snowbirds will need little reason other than abundant sunshine to head to the southernmost part of the Baja Peninsula. From October through the middle of November, however, the big draw will be approximately 40 days and 40 nights of fiestas, fairs,and festivals.
Where the Land Ends and the Laughs are Postponed
In recent years the Cabo Comedy Festival has kicked off high season in Los Cabos, drawing locals and visitors to see top stand-up talent at nightclub venues around Cabo San Lucas. This year’s event, originally scheduled for late September, has been delayed and will most likely be pushed back to May or June 2017. No firm dates or line-ups have been announced. Stay tuned here.
Doin’ the Cabo Wabo
With the exception of 2014, when Hurricane Odile caused Sammy Hagar to move his annual Birthday Bash to Las Vegas, the Red Rocker’s celebrations have been a fixture of the local event calendar. Cabo Wabo Cantina, originally opened by Hagar and his Van Halen bandmates in 1990, will host four dinner concerts—on October 7, 9, 11, and 13. He’ll be backed by Michael Anthony, Jason Bonham, and Vic Johnson, and cameos from other top musicians are a virtual certainty.
The Birthday Bashes are among the toughest local tickets, with the majority of tickets sold out immediately or in subsequent lotteries. Nonetheless, it is possible to attend. For those willing to camp out, limited first come, first serve tickets for dinner shows will be made available during the weeklong festivities. For more information, visit www.redrocker.com/events.
The World’s Richest Fishing Tournament
Bisbee’s Black and Blue is the most famous and long-running local fishing competition. Billed as the “world’s richest fishing tournament,” the 2006 payout of $4,165,960 dollars remains the single largest in sportfishing history. Despite its unquestioned status, it is but one of three lucrative, high-profile October fishing events.
The Los Cabos Billfish Tournament is the first up, from Oct. 11–15, with visiting anglers looking to reel in the biggest blue, black and striped marlin, or tuna, dorado and wahoo. The gala kickoff party and concluding awards banquet will be held at Playa Grande, with boats eligible to leave from either the Cabo San Lucas Marina or Puerto Los Cabos. Base entry is $5,000 U.S. per team (1–6 anglers), with additional pay-ins for daily jackpots.
Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore, commonly known as “Little Bisbee’s, follows Oct. 14–16. Bisbee’s has been holding fishing tournaments in Los Cabos since 1981, and has always been held in high esteem locally. But after refusing to move or even delay their tournaments post Hurricane Odile in 2014, Bisbee’s helped jump start tourism again, donated 250,000 to the Los Cabos Hurricane Relief Fund, and earned the everlasting respect of recovering residents.
The Los Cabos Offshore charity tournament dates to 2002, and is something of a laid-back precursor to the big event–the Black and Blue, or “Big Bisbee’s”–with cash prizes awarded to the teams with the three biggest qualifying fish in the game and billfish categories, and large amounts of money donated to local causes. Base entry for teams is $1,500 U.S..
“Big Bisbee’s” is the “Big Daddy,” however, and panoramas of the famed shotgun start have launched the career of local photographers. It’s not unusual for visitors walking along the Cabo San Lucas Marina during the tournament to see marlin the size of small cars being hoisted onto dockside scales. This year’s tournament will take place Oct. 18–22. Base entry is $5,000 U.S. per team, with a $71,500 U.S. outlay across all categories, jackpots and challenges.
Tougher Than the Rest
The main event at the annual Ironman Los Cabos requires 2.4 miles of swimming off Playa Palmilla, a 112-mile bike ride back and forth along the coastal corridor, followed by a full marathon length 26.2-mile run that concludes in front of City Hall in San José del Cabo. Those who are “Tougher than the Rest”, in Bruce Springsteen’s memorable phrase, will not only be competing for pride and bragging rights, but cash, prizes, and qualifying slots available for the yearly IRONMAN World Championship in Kailua-Kona, Hawaii. A 70.3, or half-triathlon, will be held on the same day–October 30–and will also offer qualifying age group slots for ultimate glory. For registration information, click here.
Arts, Culture and Red Carpets
There will also be plenty of opportunities to honor and celebrate local culture, beginning with the fiesta patronales for Cabo San Lucas. Named for St. Luke, the Land’s End city remembers its patron saint each year on October 18, with a parade down Marina Boulevard and affiliated festivities.
Halloween has made inroads in México, but Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is far more important, and much more widely observed. November 2 is the official date for the holiday–honors friends and relatives that have passed away – but remembrances are observed from October 31–November 2. During this time, families will often visit the gravesites of deceased relatives, or make ofrendas, “offerings” placed on small altars in their homes to honor the departed. The altars are often adorned with food or drinks favored by the lost loved one, as well as things like candles, photos, calaveras de azúcar (candies in the shape of skulls), pan de muerto (special Day of the Dead bread ) and cempasúchil flowers (Aztec marigolds).
One of the best local restaurants, Don Sanchez in San José del Cabo, will be hosting a special dinner this year on El Día de los Muertos. Chef Tadd Chapman will craft a special multi-course feast to accompany live entertainment from famed singer Luna Itzel. Proceeds from tickets will benefit LIGA MAC, a local charity dedicated to helping low-income families. For more information, click here or here.
Art Walk in San José del Cabo traditionally debuts each November, and is a staple each Thursday evening from 5 – 9 p.m. until the end of June. The weekly open house showcases the art and artists of the city’s gorgeous Distrito del Arte. Locals and aesthetically-minded visitors are invited to sip wine, sample cheese, talk to local artists, and listen to live music as they walk the district’s cobblestone streets. The event is promoted by the Gallery District Association, and participants include some of the most notable galleries in Baja California Sur.
The Los Cabos International Film Festival has brought Hollywood style glamor to the area since 2012, when it drew stars like Edward Norton and Matt Dillon to the newly built Convention Center in San José del Cabo. The 5th annual edition will take place November 9–13, with red carpet galas at the Pabellón Cultural de la República in Cabo San Lucas, and screenings at Cinemex Theaters in Puerto Paraíso and other locations. Renowned Chilean director Pablo Larraín’s Jackie makes its Mexican premiere this year. The film stars Natalie Portman as Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, and continues Larraín’s affiliation with the festival: his film No, about an advertising referendum against dictator Augusto Pinochet, won the International Narrative Features Competition at the inaugural film fest (then the Baja International Film Festival).
For more information about this year’s screenings and events, click here.