Photo Credit: schlaeger

From local traditions to cosmopolitan arts exhibitions and nationwide celebrations, Mexico doesn’t shy away from displaying its heritage, diversity, and vibrancy.

While travellers are typically warned of the hardships of visiting during a major holiday, it is this author’s opinion that festivals are in fact the best time to visit Mexico. The sights will always be there, but celebrations are ephemeral beasts.

Spring and autumn see the most pleasant weather, and are packed with traditional and international celebrations. Here are some calendar highlights of 2013:

6-12 February: Carnaval

A week of celebration before Lent, the country lets its hair down with fireworks displays, parades, music, food, drink, and dancing.

1-9 March: Guadalajara International Film Festival (FICG)

A major film festival in Mexican and Latin American cinema, the FICG is an important showcase for both new and established names in film.

14-17 March: Wine & Food Festival, Riviera Maya

Gourmands will want to take full advantage of this 3-day bonanza of gustatory delights: tastings, lectures, and the opportunity to meet world-renowned chefs.

24-30 March: Semana Santa

Beginning with Palm Sunday, the week is marked by processions, ceremonies, rituals, and re-enactments of Christ’s last days.

10-14 April: Zona Maco Mexico Arte Contemporaneo, Mexico City

Drawing over 30,000 people, this is considered the most important contemporary art exposition in Mexico, drawing artists, collectors, and curators from all over the world.

26 April-5 May: XXIV Feria Nacional del Libro de León, León, Guanajuato

One of the most important international book fairs in the country, the 22 year-old festival hosts authors, publishers, artistic events and lectures to promote intellectual and cultural exchange.

3 May: Día de Santa Cruz

On this day celebrated all over the country, people traditionally decorate altars with candles and coloured paper, and eat tamales.

17-20 June: Expo TlaquepArte, Veracruz

The Expo TlaquepArte aims to promote traditional Mexican art and support and create exposure for traditional artisans.

16 September: Día de la Independencie

Celebrating the start of the War of Independence in 1810, fireworks displays, parades, and readings of the Grito de Dolores, Padre Hidalgo’s call to revolution, are traditional.

1-2 November: Día de Todos los Santos & Día de los Muertos

Known worldwide, these holidays are when Mexican families visit the graves of their ancestors to make offerings and commune with the dead, whose souls are believed to return to earth on Día de los Muertos.

Colourful, exuberant and full of flavour, Mexico’s 2013 offerings are not to be missed.