It can be argued that no better spot in Mexico exists to honor los Dias de los Muertos than the city of Aguascalientes.
The hometown of the venerated 19th century satirical newspaper cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada, who created the now archetypal image of “La Calavera Catrina,” serves up a ten-day festival that transforms the idea of “state fair” into a “state of the art” extravaganza for all ages.
My spouse and I joined some friends last year for a weekend visit to the Aguascalientes festival – just days after our move to Guadalajara.
We were completely unprepared for the sophistication and breadth of the fair. Stretching over a vast landscape, the day and evening programming includes big-time music acts, lectures, theatre and dance performances, combined with large-scale dining, food and tequila tastings, and great tented exhibition halls that feature locally grown and preserved foodstuffs for sale from all over the country – not to mention the acres of fine handicrafts offered in long trains of sales booths. We made our way through fair in the evening hours, and I believe the fair is truly best enjoyed after dark.
In keeping with Posada’s mindset, the festival is ironic, irreverent and raucous, illustrated by the room-sized exhibitions of vividly decorated “Altares de Muertos,” sponsored by local civic and business groups and dedicated to local and national public figures, usually pricking a bubble or two of vanity in their portrayals. The festival is also crowded at times, with visitors from all over the country thronging to enjoy the seemingly endless variety of pleasures.
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