Each year since 1921, the Guadalupanas pilgrimages have taken place in Puerto Vallarta during the first twelve days of December to commemorate the appearance of the Virgin Mary to the peasant Juan Diego on December 12, 1531. The festival is known as the Festival of Guadalupe.
Juan Diego Cuauhtlatoatzin is the first Roman Catholic indigenous American saint. He is said to have been granted an apparition of the Virgin Mary on four separate occasions in December 1531 at the hill of Tepeyac, in Mexico City.
The Guadalupana has become a significant cultural and religious event in Puerto Vallarta, and all around Mexico. The festivities are a cultural and visual experience that delights tourists each year with colorful festivities combining ancient Aztec and modern Christianity.
The pilgrimages are organized by local families, organizations, neighborhoods, businesses, and other local groups. The processions are filled with singing and dancing as participants bring gifts to the altar of Our Lady of Guadalupe, the Virgin of Guadalupe is Puerto Vallarta’s patron saint making the celebration even more special in the city.
Streets around the church are lined with onlookers as processions pass by and church bells ring with each arrival. Processions intensify in the last days as the most active day is December 11 when some pilgrimages fill 20 hours of the day with thousands of participants.
Many religious ceremonies are held during this period as well, such as baptisms and confirmations, along with weddings, as this period is considered blessed or holy.
Even though the festivities are in religious nature, the entire city celebrates with street parties around the church for the 12-day celebration. You will find street food like Atole, elotes (corn), enchiladas, pozole, tostadas, and churros. And no fiesta is complete without a mariachi band or two performing in the town square.
If you are in Puerto Vallarta during the first twelve days of December, you won’t want to miss this cultural experience that kicks off the holiday season.