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  • Passing Time in the Plazas & Parks: All the world may be a stage, but some stages have richer backdrops than others. Town plazas are the place to sit and watch daily Mexican life unfold before your eyes. Alive with people, these open spaces are no modern product of urban planners, but are rooted in the traditional Mexican view of society. Several plazas are standouts: Veracruz's famous zócalo features nearly nonstop music and tropical gaiety. One look tells you how important Oaxaca's zócalo is to the local citizenry; the plaza is at once remarkably beautiful, grand, and intimate. Mexico City's Alameda has a dark, dramatic history -- heretics were burned at the stake here during the colonial period -- but today it's a people's park where lovers sit, cotton-candy vendors spin their treats, and the sound of organ grinders drifts over the changing crowd. San Miguel de Allende's Jardín is the focal point for meeting, sitting, painting, and sketching. During festivals, it fills with dancers, parades, and elaborate fireworks. Guanajuato and Querétaro have the coziest plazas, and Mérida's El Centro, can't be beat on Sundays.
  • Música Popular: Nothing reveals the soul of a people like music, and Mexico has given rise to various styles, which you can hear in many different settings. You can hear brassy mariachi music in the famous Plaza de Garibaldi in Mexico City, under the arches of El Parián in Tlaquepaque, and in other parts of Guadalajara. Or perhaps you want to hear romantic boleros sung to the strumming of a Spanish guitar, or what Mexicans call música tropical and related cumbias, mambos, and cha-cha-chas.
  • Regional Folk Dancing: From the Ballet Folklórico in Mexico City to the Ballet Folclórico in Guadalajara, or the almost-nightly park dances in Mérida, Mexican folk dance events are diverse and colorful expressions of Mexican traditions.
  • Fireworks: Mexicans share such a passion for fireworks and such a cavalier attitude toward them that it's a good thing the buildings are stone and cement, or the whole country would have burned down long ago. Many local traditions surround fireworks, and every festival includes a display. The most lavish are the large constructions called castillos, and the wildest are the toros that men carry over their shoulders while running through the streets, causing festivalgoers to dive for cover.
  • Strolling El Malecón: Wherever there's a seafront road, you'll find el malecón bordering it. This is generally a wide sidewalk for strolling, complete with vendors selling pinwheels and cotton candy. In some places, it has supplanted the plaza as a center of town life. The best are in Puerto Vallarta and Mazatlán, La Paz, Cozumel, and Veracruz.
  • Fútbol Matches: There are very few people in the world who can match the passion of a serious Mexican fútbol (soccer) fan. From dusty rural fields to colossal urban stadiums, you can join fanáticos chanting team fight songs. If you have trouble learning the words, all you really need to know is, "Goooooooooooooool."

Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.