Mexican Holiday Style: Celebrate Mexican Culture at Our Lady of Peace Festival in Bucerias

Bucerias, Mexico (January 16-24) – Cameras, phones and iPads were held up in the air. I shuffled through the hundreds of people that were gathered on the beach, eagerly awaiting the arrival of the boats.  I firmly stuck my feet beneath the hot sand and got into position; I managed to score an unobstructed view near the shoreline. Music was playing; kids were running around; excitement was in the air.

Each January, the small town of Bucerias (25km north of Puerto Vallarta) honors its patron saint, Our Lady of Peace, during a nine- day festival. This annual event brings hundreds of residents and tourists together.

 Celebrations include a carnival with numerous rides, games, arts, crafts. There are food vendors, live music and performers, and nightly fireworks.  The festival culminates on January 24 with its grand finale, the “Blessing of the Fleet” for the local fishermen and their boats.

Fiesta Highlight

The Blessing of the Fleet is the highlight of the fiesta, taking place on the beach near the central plaza. Spectators begin to appear mid- morning, growing to several hundreds by midday.

While the excited crowd eagerly awaits the arrival of the boats, dancers dressed in Mayan costume perform in the Santa Cruz church grounds and talented horse riders dance to the music of the marching band.

Mexican Holiday Style2

At noon, several colorfully decorated fishing boats (“pangas”) will arrive across the Banderas Bay from La Cruz de Huanacaxtle.  The pangas float in the distance, and take turns driving towards the beach at full speed while the excited crowd applauds.  Once they have all arrived, the fishermen are greeted and blessed by the Padre (Father), and are led in a procession one block away to the Santa Cruz church where they will receive a formal blessing for the next year during a Catholic mass. The festival ends that evening with an elaborate fireworks display.

This is a must-see event! Be sure to bring your camera, as you are guaranteed to have countless photo and video opportunities! Bucerias’ Our Lady of Peace Festival will not disappoint!

Worth the Trip

If your travel dates don’t overlap with this annual festival (January 16-24), a visit any other day to Bucerias is still well worth it. Aside from the artisans market, where you can buy Mexican handicrafts including glassware, pottery, embroidery, jewelry and Huichol Indian beadwork – all at lower prices than the markets in Puerto Vallarta, Bucerias’ cobblestoned streets are lined with several boutique shops, galleries and restaurants, many of which are located along Lázaro Cárdenas Street. You can also rent a lounge chair outside one of the restaurants along the beach and enjoy a cold beverage as you catch some rays and people watch.

Getting There

Bucerias has become a favorite among vacationers who are looking to get away from the faster pace and “been there, done that” nature of neighboring Puerto Vallarta. Bucerias has a population of around 7000, and is described by many residents and visitors as the Puerto Vallarta of 25 years ago.

Transportation options between Bucerias and Puerto Vallarta are easily accessible; a 40-minute bus ride will cost 12 pesos (less than $1USD), while a private taxi will cost approximately $25USD (30 minutes). You will need pesos for the bus, but you can pay for the taxi in either pesos or dollars.

Article and Photos By Tawna Brown

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