Guelaguetza Oaxaca: A Marvelous Legacy of Indigenous Traditions

Are you planning your next trip to be a fabulous cultural experience? Guelaguetza in Oaxaca, Mexico is the best option for you!

What is the Guelaguetza festival?
Where is it held?
What's the history of Guelaguetza?
When is it?
How to get there and how to get tickets?

Stay with us and learn facts, interesting tips, and more about Guelaguetza Oaxaca. Let's celebrate!


Guelaguetza Mexico: What is it?

The Guelaguetza is an event where the 8 regions of the beautiful state of Oaxaca come together to show their cultural heritage through traditional dance, traditional clothing, crafts, music, and of course, their delicious traditional food. Every year in July, beautiful traditional dances take place in this wonderful event. It is a very interesting, unique, and original way to get to know the folklore that surrounds the people of Oaxaca.

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Before the big event in the auditorium, a day before on Sunday, you can take advantage of the many cultural activities that the Guelaguetza month has in Oaxaca. For example, concerts, theater shows, exhibitions, calendas, traditional dances, and fairs, among others. You will be able to taste delicious Oaxaca food such as tasajo, tejate, tamales, tlayudas, nieves, mole, and many more. Be careful with the mezcal tastings, or you will end up collapsing from the party!

Here I share with you some of my favorite delegations and dancers from the parade during the month of the Guelaguetza:

  • Lo Chilolos-Mixteca Region
  • Diablos de Tecomaxtlahuaca-Mixteca Region
  • Chilenas de Pochutla- Coastal Region
  • Sones Mixes-Northern Sierra Region
  • Los Tiliches de Putla-Sierra Sur Region
  • Danza de Pluma-Central Valleys Region
  • Danza del Macho-South Sierra Region
  • Diablos Santiago Llano Grande-Ocotlán, Coastal Region
guelaguetza mexico
Traditional dance of the coastal area of Guerrero and Oaxaca

Where is it held?

The Guelaguetza is 100% from the beautiful and always loved state of Oaxaca, Mexico. Moreover, the Guelaguetza Auditorium is where this wonderful event full of art, colors, culture, and tradition takes place. This auditorium is located on the hill of Fortin, hence the name, Monday of the Hill (you will get the context of this name soon in the text). For many years Centéotl (Centeocíhuatl) was venerated here, and it is here, where she receives the women of Oaxaca to meet once again.

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guelaguetza oaxaca
Guelaguetza Auditorium

History of the Guelaguetza festival

Guelaguetza is a Zapotec word that means offering, and this celebration has its origins in the indigenous rituals that were performed in honor of Centéotl, the goddess of corn. In fact, every year, a woman is selected to represent the goddess. But don’t worry, is nothing like the Wicker Man, Midsommar, or Children of the Corn movies. So you can take it easy and enjoy the stunning and colorful performances.

This tradition has been changing over the years. For example, upon the arrival of the Spaniards, this ritual was forbidden and the celebration of the Virgin of Carmen was imposed. In this way, pre-Hispanic customs and traditions were fused with the Catholic traditions and customs of the Europeans. Curiously, the Virgin of Carmen (July 16) and Centéotl (two Mondays of the hill) are still celebrated. It is a traditional Oaxacan calenda but even bigger.

At the end of the dances at the auditorium, the dancers from each region offer their offerings to those present (food, handicrafts, clothing, etc.) It is magical to listen to Mixtec music and songs in an auditorium full of people because the energy, joy, and excitement that you feel there and throughout Oaxaca is indescribable.

In addition, the diversity of textiles and decorations will make you feel a kaleidoscope in your heart. You will always carry this experience in the deepest part of your soul. The show always closes on a high note with fireworks and music. Traditions like this make us feel proud to be Mexicans and happy for our roots, customs, traditions, and in general our culture. Viva the Guelaguetza and Viva Mexico!

guelaguetza mexico
Indigenous people celebrating the traditional Guelaguetza in Oaxaca

When is it?

The Guelaguetza main show in Oaxaca takes place on the two Mondays of Hill (in Spanish Lunes de Cerro) two Mondays after July 16th. Although, during the whole month, cultural and gastronomic events take place. With this, you can admire an incredible atmosphere that showcases the very best of the state of Oaxaca. The Guelaguetza Mexico is definitely for partying all July!

The parade of all Oaxaca’s delegations is a free event in the center of Oaxaca, where each region shows its colors and charm through the streets to the rhythm of traditional music. This parade takes place on the two Saturdays before the Lunes de Cerro.

How to get there and how to get tickets?

To get to the Guelaguetza Auditorium or the Convention Center where there are also shows, there is also free transportation in downtown Oaxaca. Each year in the convention center the theme of the exhibitions varies. There may be a mezcal fair, a handicraft fair, or a gastronomy fair. Admission is completely free!

For the parade, it is advisable to arrive at least 1 hour before to have a better place up front. The parade route is shared on the official Facebook page of Guelaguetza Oficial or Oaxaca Travel. There are 4 performances: morning and evening of each Lunes de Cerro. Online tickets for the event at the auditorium start selling on June 1st and the prices are around $1290 ($76 USD). Tickets sell out very fast, so if you can’t get tickets… come with us! If no option is possible, you can get in for free! But you have to line up many hours in advance, as the entrance is limited. But definitely, the Guelaguetza Oaxaca experience is worth it.

There are also guelaguetzas in the surrounding villages, as many times the dancers who dance in the morning, dance in the villages at night and vice versa. In fact, if an adventure with the locals is what you are looking for, the vibe in these villages may be just what you need. The Zapotec culture lives on and our Mexican traditions are still alive and will never die.

guelaguetza oaxaca
Guelaguetza festival in Oaxaca, Mexico

Guelaguetza Oaxaca: Conclusion

At the Guelaguetza you can find and see thousands of things you will love. For example, marmots, Oaxacan chinas, pyrotechnics, cocol, and lots of mezcal. Definitely, traveling to Oaxaca will always be a wonderful adventure that every traveler has to experience at least once in a lifetime.

But if you add going to the Guelaguetza to your bucket list, your Oaxacan experience will be even more incredible. Get to know its traditions, its gastronomy, and how they have made Oaxaca a world heritage admired and loved by thousands of people around the world.

The Guelaguetza Oaxaca will leave you with the desire to always want to return to this place full of love for its land ready to show it to all of us. What are you waiting for? The Guelaguetza is waiting for you with open arms! Have you already come to the Guelaguetza? Would you like to come? Comment and share your opinions!

Informative video

Guelaguetza Mexico