Tourist season is virtually year-round at this point, but a traditional start to the season is still delineated each October, when there are a flurry of notable events. This year alone there are three big-time fishing tournaments–the Los Cabos Billfish Tournament, and Bisbee’s Los Cabos Offshore and Black and Blue–a series of Sammy Hagar Birthday Bashes at Cabo Wabo Cantina featuring all-star guests, and an Ironman Triathlon that criss-crosses Los Cabos.
One could say September is thus the calm before the seasonal storm of visitors, except September tends to be the month of actual storms; a fact most recently evidenced by Hurricane Newton, which slammed into cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo earlier this week, with winds gusting from 80 to 115 miles per hour.
Storms and sweltering temperatures have made September the traditional height of the slow season, and the time when locals tend to clean and renovate their businesses, or take a well-earned vacation themselves. But that doesn’t necessarily mean it’s a bad time to visit. Warm water temperatures and excellent visibility draw divers and other water enthusiasts, and of course September hosts the country’s most important secular holiday: Mexican Independence Day.
Cinco de Mayo gets a lot of press in the U.S., and provides an excuse (as if any were ever needed) to go out for tacos and margaritas. But Cinco de Mayo–which honors the victory of the Mexican Army over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862–isn’t one of the more important Mexican holidays: at least not in México. Setting aside religious holidays like Christmas and Easter, the most significant historical remembrances are El Día de la Independencia, on September 16, El Día de la Revolución, on November 20.
Independence Day, however, is by far the most important, equivalent to July 4 in the U.S. Not only are September 15 and 16 given over to patriotic festivities, but related events (known as las fiestas patrias) are scattered throughout the month (which itself is known as el mes de la patria, or “the country’s month”).
Why September 16?
In the year 1810, a priest named Miguel Hidalgo (full name: Don Miguel Gregorio Antonio Ignacio Hidalgo-Costilla y Gallaga Mandarte Villaseñor) uttered what is now famously known as the Grito de Dolores: basically a cry of freedom, a call for revolution based on the belief that México must free itself from the rule of Spain, which had controlled the country–then known as Nueva España–since Hernan Cortés and his Conquistadores toppled the island city of the Aztecs, Tenochtitlán, in 1521.
Hidalgo gave this call to arms twice: once on the evening of September 15, and again on the morning of the 16 in the small town of Dolores near Guanajuato. The subsequent rebellion led to the Mexican War of Independence, which finally ended on September 28, 1821, when new president (and later emperor) of México Agustín de Iturbide issued the fledgling country’s official Declaration of Independence from Spain.
Today, yearly celebrations of Mexican Independence Day generally begin on the evening of September 15, with grito reenactments from the president and public officials around the country–concluded by the thrice repeated phrase ¡Viva México!–a symbolic bell ringing, as well as live music, food and drink, and festive firework celebrations. Parades are typically the main event on Independence Day itself.
This traditional schedule of events is followed in Los Cabos. Grito reenactments take place at 11 p.m. at Plaza Mijares in San José del Cabo, and at the Delegación in Cabo San Lucas; and parades wind through the main boulevards of each city the following morning, beginning around 9 a.m.
Visitors will find other Independence related festivities abound, however, from food and drink specials at local bars and restaurants to private parties and special presentations. Two stand out in 2016: a traditional fiesta at Sheraton’s spectacular Hacienda del Mar property, and a lecture about the myths and realities of Independence Day from noted Mexican historian José Manuel Villalpando.
The Sheraton Hacienda del Mar is one of the jewels of the corridor, a beautiful colonial-style resort overlooking Punta Ballena. It also has a reputation for incredible food and drink, whether in onsite restaurants like Pitahayas, De Cortez and Girasoles de la Hacienda or at special events in the elegant courtyard or regal ballroom. To celebrate Independence Day in 2016, a special Viva México event will be held from 7 – 11 p.m. on September 15, with tickets entitling guests to traditional Mexican beer, wine and cuisine. Admittance to the event is $490 pesos for adults (about $27 U.S.), $200 for children (approx. $11 U.S.). For reservations, call (624) 145-6113 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Villalpando, a Mexico City native and Professor of History who has written nearly 40 books and also hosts a popular weekly radio show, will be appearing at the Pabellón Cultural de la República in Cabo San Lucas at 6 p.m. on September 15. Be warned: this presentation will be in Spanish. But bilingual visitors will definitely want to take note, as this is a rare opportunity to hear one of the foremost authorities in the country speaking on a vastly interesting topic: La Independencia de México–Mitos y Realidades. Tickets are limited. For more information, visit https://www.facebook.com/institutomunicipaldeculturaylasartesdeloscabos/.