Celebrating México’s Independence Day. ¡Feliz Día de la Independencia!
October ushers in many of the signature local events in Los Cabos, from Cabo Comedy Fest and Sammy Hagar’s Birthday Bash parties to Fiesta de Cabo San Lucas and Bisbee’s Black and Blue marlin fishing tournament. But the biggest single event, not only locally but nationally, takes place in September.
That’s México’s Independence Day, or Día de la Independencia, which is officially commemorated on September 16, although celebrations actually begin the night before.
For U.S. visitors unfamiliar with the holiday, imagine the 4th of July…only with a lot more fireworks. Don’t make the make the mistake common to many gringos, however, of confusing Cinco de Mayo with Mexican Independence Day. The former remembers the victory of the Mexican Army over occupying French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, and is probably more celebrated in the U.S. than it is in México. In Los Cabos, Cinco de Mayo elicits little more than a yawn.
Independence Day, on the other hand, stirs patriotic feelings to such an extent that much of September–also known as el mes de la patria (the country’s month)–is given over to patriotic parties (las fiestas patrias) of one kind or another in towns and cities across the country.
So what event does Independence Day commemorate?
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 New Spain–since Hernan Cortés and Los Conquistadores toppled 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.
Contemporary celebrations of Mexican Independence Day generally begin on the evening of September 15, with reenactments of the grito 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, and this traditional schedule of events is followed in Los Cabos.
Official gritos are always presented in Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo, as elsewhere in México, at 11 p.m. on September 15. Plaza José Antonio Mijares in San José is the best place to see the grito and enjoy all the accompanying festivities, while San Lucas is the perfect place to enjoy the patriotic parade. It begins early on September 16 at the Pabellón Cultural de la República, and typically includes firefighters, Red Cross, and other civic officials, as well as charros and local schoolchildren.
As one might imagine, celebrations aren’t limited to government sanctioned events. Many local businesses in Los Cabos feature special Independence Day themed deals and discounts. Médano Beach is a popular destination on both September 15 and 16 due to the excellent vantages of the fireworks displays over Cabo San Lucas Bay, and many beachfront bars and restaurants, including Baja Cantina Beach Club and Baja Brewing Company, showcase special menus and drink options.
Boutique Médano Beach based Bahia Hotel and Beach Club is also getting in on the act, offering deeply discounted room rates and specials throughout the month of September (guests receive 25% off best available rate or a price match guarantee, resort credits for longer stays, and discounted spa services). Some restrictions apply, so call (624) 143-1890, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit their website for additional information.
Cabo Blue has one of the best deals in downtown Cabo San Lucas, serving up $1 beer and tequila shots, and showcasing live music on both September 15 and 16.