Winter Celebrations in Mexico City

We’ve just come back from a walk around Zócalo Square in the Historic Centre of the Ciudad de Mexico, the colonnades, and the adjacent walking streets. The square is the heart of the old city, and a World Heritage Site. It is the home of the Old City Hall, the National Palace with its Rivera panels, the Metropolitan Cathedral which is the largest in Latin America, the excavations of the ancient Aztec pyramid at the Templo Mayor, and the Gran Hotel with its utterly breathtaking Art Nouveau atrium. My friends Janne and Luis were absolutely right. There is more than enough around this single square to awe a visitor not used to seeing such an array of historic architecture in the Americas. 

This morning, there was a political rally on the square. Hundreds of people were wearing a large poster with the portrait of a missing political leader as a woman exhorted the crowd over the loudspeaker.

This evening, the highlight of our visit was the winter celebration which has drawn thousands of people, young and old, parents and children, to the square. Beside a towering Christmas tree and under banks of festive lights proclaiming best wishes for the season and the new year, there are a host of winter activities. A large hockey rink was full of skaters including many people pushing their children around in plastic chairs and a smaller skating rink with more skaters beside it. There is a toboggan run where people are paying to race down the slope on rubber rings. To the music of “Frosty the Snowman” and “Santa Claus is Coming to Town,” a snow making machine on the sidewalk was blowing snow into the air, enchanting the adults with their smartphone cameras and the small children jumping to catch the snowflakes. A sound and light show played on the ornate façade of the Cathedral and ended with a concert of bells tolling from the massive twin towers of the huge church.

Who would have guessed that such an event would occur in the dead of winter in the heart of Mexico? Particularly since the winter temperatures today will be a low of 8 degrees and a high… well, you don’t want to know. I wonder how long these January celebrations continue.

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3 comments

  1. Beth

    ….your details of the city are fabulous although I must say I would not want to undergo more Christmas celebrations in the month of January. December is more than enough for me. I would love to visit every one of the buildings you described. From one who is about to undergo yet more nasty, winter weather – yes, rain, snow and freezing rain are about to embrace us once more.

  2. Murray

    … You brought back memories on our trip with our 4 boys at Easter in the 80’s to that area. Did you feel safe?

    • Marion

      The security presence in Mexico City is striking. Police cars flash their blue and red lights constantly. Federal police, some unarmed, some armed with pistols, others with shotguns or machine guns, were around the square, particularly during the political demonstration earlier in the day. All the shops have security guards at the front door, and there is a big police presence on the pedestrian precincts. We have been told that the downtown core of Mexico City where tourists are most likely to be is very safe. Here in Tepotzlan, a city of 25,000 in the mountains about an hour south east of Mexico City, security seems less a concern.

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