Let’s Go to the Cervantino Festival

By YaYa Silva

This October, like every year, the city of Guanajuato is home to one of the most important festivals of its kind, recognized worldwide, the International Cervantino Festival. The Festival dates back to 1953 when Enrique Ruelas Espinosa, a professor at the University of Guanajuato, began to put on short plays in the plazas of the city. These plays, or “entremeses,” were inspired by the texts of Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, author of Don Quijote de la Mancha. These literary icons have become part of the city’s identity, along with the popular mummies and historical episodes of Mexico.

The annual production of various artistic activities in the city’s main squares by a group of students and ardent followers of Cervantes, such as Enrique Ruelas, sparked the interest of the general public, but especially that of artists, politicians, and a large number of performing arts fans, who began to participate in and support this event, turning it into one of the most prestigious international cultural gatherings. The first international event took place in 1974, with 14 countries invited to take part. Guanajuato, with its alleys, squares, tunnels, and medieval architecture proved an ideal setting for this great celebration of culture, where each country was given the opportunity to bring to Mexico musical concerts, theater productions, and dance performances, an event that continues to this day.

Over the years, right up to the 43rd edition in 2015, hundreds of artists and personalities have attended or taken part in the festival, including Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip in 1975; the legendary Mexican comic film actor Cantinflas; singer Joan Baez; the New York Philharmonic; the Bolshoi Theatre; the Sankai Juku dance troupe; and, in 2014, guests of honor Prince Akishino and Princess Kiko of Japan. Everyday for three weeks you can choose from a variety of shows in different venues throughout the city, including the Teatro Juárez, the Alhóndiga de Granaditas, the State Auditorium, and the various public squares. From October 7 to 25, the city will be transformed into a cultural happening, with street performers, musicians, acrobats, orchestras, and ballet companies all coming together in a celebration of human expression through the arts.

Some events are free. The Festival’s liveliest concerts are on weekends, including a return  by Ruben Blades, the Amalia Hernández Folklore Ballet, and world music stars, such as Taraf de Haïdouks, Salvant (Franco-American jazz vocalist); the Anima Eterna Brugge Orchestra (Belgium) with conductor Jos van Immerseel performing for the first time in Mexico; and Antonio Vivaldi’s opera Montezuma by the Modo Antiquo ensemble (Italy), are just some of the delights that await you. Email conejoblancosma@gmail.com for more information. For shared transportation and an English-speaking guide, call 415 111 1340.


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