Mariachi music is a defining symbol of Mexican folk culture — but nowhere is it more tied to local traditions than in western Mexico’s Jalisco state. Considered to be the birthplace of mariachi, the state capital, Guadalajara, is an appropriate host for the International Mariachi and Charrería Festival. The annual festival, which will take place this year from August 26 to September 4, is expected to draw some 350,000 mariachi fans and performers from around the world.
The principal venue will be Guadalajara’s neoclassical Teatro Degollado, which turns 150 this year. Some of Mexico’s top mariachi bands, such as Mariachi Vargas de Tecalitlán, will perform, along with bands from more than a dozen countries, including Japan, Croatia, Cuba, Italy and Canada — a reflection of the music’s global appeal.
For the New York-based and Latin Grammy-nominated band Mariachi Flor de Toloache, performing at last year’s festival was a dream come true. “Free mariachi performances every day in a breathtaking city and the ability to connect with people from all over the world who share the same passion — how can you miss that?” said founder Mireya Ramos.
According to Carlos Mateos, director of special projects at the Guadalajara Chamber of Commerce, the international performers have “strengthened” the festival since it was launched in 1994.
If attendees need a break from the music, they can also enjoy the rodeo excitement of charrería, a tradition that developed alongside mariachi and features competitions inspired by traditional ranch culture, such as horse roping and bull riding. At the same time, they can celebrate another homegrown product that originated in Jalisco: The 10-day event will be sprinkled with tastings of tequila.