Calendar of Events


Quinta Amada -  Bed and Breakfast

San Juan Bautista Church

Carnival dancers, Tlaxcala

Carnival dancers, Panotla

House decorated for Good Friday procession.

Virgin of Ocotlan procession.

Homemade hot air ballon

Street decorated for 'the night when nobody sleeps.'

Folk Dance Festival



January 6: Three Kings’ Day (Día de los Reyes Magos):
This is the traditional day of gift-giving in Mexico, when the three wise men bring presents to good little boys and girls. Families and friends gather and celebrate with special foods, including the “Rosca de Reyes,” a sweet, wreath-shaped bread in which are hidden small figures of the Baby Jesus. Tradition says that whoever gets a piece of bread with a baby Jesus must make tamales for the celebration of the Feast of Candelaria on February 2.

Festival of San Juan Totolac, third Sunday of January
The town of San Juan celebrates its feast day with a variety of events. Residents welcome their family and friends to share a meal of traditional festival foods, especially mole, a complex chili and chocolate sauce that is served over chicken or turkey. They gather at the plaza to see the timeless struggle between good and evil enacted by costumed figures in a colorful ritual dance. There are carnival rides and games, and nightfall brings a fireworks show followed by dancing to live music.


February 2: Candelaria (Candelmas Day)
Also called the Feast of the Presentation of Christ in the Temple, this is the day when the Baby Jesus figurines are taken from the nativity scene to the church to be blessed. The stores and markets are full of special clothing and crowns to “dress” the Baby Jesus in the days before the feast. After church, friends and family gather for the party given by those who found the tiny Jesus figures in the Rosca de Reyes on January 6. Traditional foods include tamales, atole, and hot chocolate. The nativity scene is put away on this date until the next Christmas season.

Carnaval begins five days before Ash Wednesday with parades and traditional masked, costumed dancers, called “huehues”. Tlaxcala is well-known for its fine handcrafted masks with Spanish features: pale skin, blue eyes and beards. The dances, masks and costumes originated in colonial times, when the rich Spanish held lavish carnival balls in their haciendas. The native people who worked there were, of course, excluded, and so they began to burlesque the dress and dances of their masters during their own fiestas. Present day carnival is an exuberant expression of Tlaxcala’s cultural identity and heritage. There are parades and free popular dances as well as the traditional Carnaval dances.


Semana Santa and Pasqua (Holy Week and Easter)
The week before Easter is marked by special religious observances throughout Tlaxcala and, indeed, Mexico. In San Juan Totolac, Good Friday begins with a procession of the Cross through the town, passing through streets decorated with palms, flowers, and purple and white banners of papel picado. Religious services in the afternoon and evening are followed by a nighttime “Silent Procession” through San Juan, in which residents in Biblical dress bear the coffin of the crucified Christ through town. Parishioners carrying candles follow silently, for all are grieving the death of Jesus. The quiet of Holy Saturday, a day of mourning, is broken at midnight by the joyous ringing of the church bells and booming of fireworks to celebrate the Resurrection at midnight Mass. Many nearby communities celebrate Semana Santa by staging “Passion Plays”, reenactments of the life and death of Jesus.


May 19: Feast of the Virgin of Ocotlán
At dawn on this day the venerated image of the Virgin of Ocotlán is ceremoniously taken down from the altar of the Basilica de Ocotlán and reverently carried in procession through Tlaxcala, whose streets are decorated with blue and white banners and elaborate “carpets” of flowers and colored sawdust.


June 15-Augusto 15: Firefly Festival, Santuario de la Luciérnaga
Visit Villas del Bosque Santa Clara, an eco-center declared a protected sanctuary for fireflies, to enjoy the lovely spectacle of hundreds of fireflies glowing in the darkened woods at night.

June 23-25: Feast of San Juan in Totolac
The festival begins at 11pm the night of June 23 with Mass at the parish church. Following Mass, a procession winds through the town´s decorated streets, lasting until dawn. To sustain them, the pilgrims are given tamales and hot cider by residents along the way. Clanging church bells, throbbing drums and booming fireworks punctuate the celebration throughout the night. On the evening of June 24 celebrants gather at the churchyard for a spectacular fireworks show and dance. Locals often make small, colorful hot air balloons out of tissue paper, which they send up to glow in the night sky. On the evening of June 25 there will again be fireworks and dancing in the plaza below the church.

Festival de Títeres/Marionette Festival—third week of June
This ancient theater art is kept alive and thriving in Tlaxcala, thanks to the Aranda family from Huamantla, who studied with an Italian marionette master in the early 1800’s and began to handcraft their own marionettes. They founded the Compañía de Rosete Aranda in 1835 to give performances throughout the region. Their work is carried on today by their descendants, and the annual Festival de Títeres attracts marionette masters from Europe and Asia as well as the Americas, giving performances throughout Tlaxcala. The Museo Nacional de Títeres in Huamantla displays many of the handcrafted marionettes used in shows throughout the years.


July 6: Festival of the 400 Families
Celebration in San Juan Totolac marking the anniversary of the day in 1591 when 400 Tlaxcalan families were sent forth to pacify and colonize the northern reaches of “Nueva España”. Their direct descendants eventually reached as far north as present-day Texas and New Mexico to found cities such as Santa Fe.

La Feria del Sarape, Santa Ana Chiautempan, July 19 to early August Chiautempan celebrates its traditional specialty in handmade textiles, and combines this with the fiesta of its patron saint, Our Lady of Saint Ann. There are artisan displays, parades, religious observances, dances, fireworks, food and fun.


August 14-15: “La Noche Que Nadie Duerme”
Fair and festival in Huamantla, Tlaxcala, known for its Pamplona-style running of the bulls and “the night when nobody sleeps”, August 14 to 15. The downtown streets are decorated with elaborate “carpets” of flowers and colored sawdust for the procession of Our Lady of Charity, which begins shortly after midnight and continues until dawn. A festive atmosphere prevails.


September 16: Mexican Independence Day
Mexicans celebrate this day with fireworks and “the cry of independence” at midnight on the 15th, followed by a parade and festivities the following day.


October 3:
Anniversary of the founding of Tlaxcala in 1537. Celebrated with a variety of festive cultural events.

Festival Nacional de Danza Folklórica/Folk Dance Festival
This festival held in late September or early October showcases folk dance troupes from Tlaxcala and other Mexican states.

Tlaxcala State Fair, mid-October through mid-November.
Marked with parades, running of the bulls and bullfights, concerts, dances, food and fun.


November 2: Day of the Dead
A beautiful celebration with deep indigenous roots, when Tlaxcalans visit with the spirits of their loved ones who have passed away. Many make altars, or ofrendas, in their homes, with photos of their loved ones along with their favorite foods, drink and possessions, traditional orange cempasuchitl flowers, candles and candies. On the night of November 1st many people visit the local cemetery to clean and decorate their relatives’ graves, some building fires and spending the night. The next day the cemetery is full of families bearing flowers and food to the graves of their loved ones. A festive air prevails, with music, food, laughter and love abundant. The city of Tlaxcala holds an ofrenda exhibition in the central plaza, and guides explain the historical/cultural significance of the offerings, which differ from community to community.


The community celebrates the Christmas season with the traditional nightly Posadas, during which the figures of Mary and Joseph are carried in procession through the village streets to the home which will give them shelter, or “posada,” for the night. The beginning of each Posada is announced by the beating of drums and the setting off of rockets. The faithful then gather to accompany the sacred figures to their resting place for that night. Many carry lighted candles or sparklers to brighten the way, singing hymns as they go. Upon arriving at their destination, they sing the traditional request for shelter and the host family sings the reply, at first refusing and finally welcoming the holy couple into their home. All gather together to say the rosary and litanies, and then the festivities begin. Everyone is given such customary gifts as tamales, hot fruit punch, sugar cane, peanuts, tangerines, cookies and sweets. Excited children compete to break the piñata while their parents socialize with neighbors and friends.

Christmas Eve:
Mass is celebrated at 11pm when the figures of Mary and Joseph are carried to the church, where the familiar song requesting “posada” is sung for the last time of the Christmas season. When the figure of the Baby Jesus is placed in the manger at midnight, all voices are raised in singing a traditional lullaby to the Child. After Mass, families gather together for their celebratory Christmas dinner. Christmas Day is, understandably, usually quiet.
Santa Claus, plastic poinsettias, and Christmas trees have found their way to Mexico, but they seem to be added onto, rather than replacing, the time-honored Christmas customs. The city of Tlaxcala presents many Christmas events and programs in the central plaza for the enjoyment of all. The downtown is festive with sparkling lights, colorful garlands, and a giant Christmas tree.

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