For an exhaustive list of events beyond those listed here, check http://events.frommers.com, where you'll find a searchable, up-to-the-minute roster of what's happening in cities all over the world.
Note: Banks, government offices, and many stores close on national holidays.
Día de Año Nuevo (New Year's Day). This national holiday is perhaps the quietest day in all of Mexico. Most people stay home or attend church on the first day of the year. All businesses are closed. In traditional indigenous communities, new tribal leaders are inaugurated with colorful ceremonies rooted in the pre-Hispanic past. January 1.
Día de los Reyes (Three Kings Day). This day commemorates the day the Three Wise Men arrived bearing gifts for the Christ Child. On this day, children receive gifts, much like the traditional Christmas gift-giving in the United States, although Santa Claus has melded with Mexican traditions in Los Cabos. Friends and families gather to share the Rosca de Reyes, a ring-shaped cake. Inside the cake is a small doll representing the Christ Child; whoever receives the doll must host a tamales-and-atole party on February 2, or Dos de la Candelaria. January 6.
Día de la Candelaria (Candlemas). Music, dances, processions, food, and other festivities lead up to a blessing of seed and candles in a ceremony that mixes pre-Hispanic and European traditions marking the end of winter. Those who attended the Three Kings celebration reunite to share atole and tamales at a party hosted by the recipient of the doll found in the Rosca. February 2.
Día de la Constitución (Constitution Day). This national holiday is in honor of the current Mexican constitution, signed in 1917 as a result of the revolutionary war of 1910. It's celebrated through small parades. February 5.
Carnaval. Carnaval takes place over the 3 days before the beginning of Lent. La Paz celebrates with special zeal, and visitors enjoy a festive atmosphere and parades. The 3 days preceding Ash Wednesday.
Miércoles de Ceniza (Ash Wednesday). The start of Lent and time of abstinence, this is a day of reverence nationwide; some towns honor it with folk dancing and fairs.
Feria de San José. The end of March brings a weeklong party to downtown San José del Cabo, where carnival rides and games, traditional Mexican food, and jewelry and knickknack vendors fill the streets. San José Day is March 19.
Semana Santa (Holy Week). This week celebrates the last week in the life of Christ from Palm Sunday through Easter Sunday with somber religious processions almost nightly, spoofing of Judas, and reenactments of biblical events, plus food and crafts fairs. Businesses close during this traditional week of Mexican national vacations. If you plan on traveling to or around Mexico during Holy Week, make reservations early. Late March or April.
El Día del Trabajo (Labor Day). Workers' parades take place countrywide, and everything closes on this national holiday. May 1.
La Paz Foundation, La Paz. This celebration observes the founding of La Paz by Cortez in 1535 and features artesanía exhibitions from throughout Southern Baja. May 1 to May 5.
Cinco de Mayo. This holiday commemorates the defeat of the French at the Battle of Puebla. May 5.
Día de la Marina (Navy Day). This day is celebrated in all coastal towns, with naval parades and fireworks. June 1.
Corpus Christi. This day, celebrated nationwide, honors the Body of Christ (the Eucharist) with processions, Masses, and food. Mulitas (mules), handmade from dried cornhusks and painted, are traditionally sold outside all churches on that day to represent a prayer for fertility. Dates vary, but celebrations take place on the Thursday following "Holy Trinity" Sunday.
Fiestas de la Vendimia (Wine Harvest Festival). Ensenada's food-and-wine festival celebrates the annual harvest, with blessings, seminars, parties, and wine tastings. Call tel. 800/44-MEXICO (800/446-3942) for details and schedule. Mid- to late August.
Día de la Independencia (Independence Day). This national holiday celebrates Mexico's independence from Spain with a day of parades, picnics, and family reunions throughout the country. At 11pm on September 15, the president of Mexico gives the famous independence grito (shout) from the National Palace in Mexico City. At least half a million people crowd into the capital's zócalo (town square), and the mayor of each town across the country gives the grito in front of thousands in his own town square. Those who don't venture into the craziness of their main plaza to celebrate do watch the event on TV. September 15 and 16.
Festival Fundador. This festival celebrates the founding of the town of Todos Santos in 1723. Streets around the main plaza fill with food, games, and wandering troubadours. October 10 to October 14.
Día de la Raza (Ethnicity Day, or Columbus Day). This day commemorates the fusion of the Spanish and Mexican peoples. October 12.
Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead). This national holiday (Nov 1) actually lasts for 2 days: All Saints' Day -- honoring saints and deceased children -- and All Souls' Day, honoring deceased adults. Relatives gather at cemeteries countrywide, carrying candles, food, flowers, and colorful decorations, and often spend the night beside graves of loved ones. Weeks before, bakers begin producing bread in the shape of mummies or round loaves decorated with bread "bones." Sugar skulls emblazoned with glitter are sold everywhere. Many days ahead, homes and churches erect altars laden with bread, fruit, flowers, candles, favorite foods, and photographs of saints and of the deceased as a way of remembering them. Traditionally, costumed children walk through the streets both nights carrying mock coffins and pumpkin lanterns, into which they expect money will be dropped. However, in Americanized Los Cabos, costumed kids are out in full force for Halloween rather than on Day of the Dead. November 1 and 2.
Día de la Revolución (Revolution Day). This national holiday commemorates the start of the Mexican revolution in 1910 with parades, speeches, rodeos, and patriotic events. November 20.
Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Feast of the Virgin of Guadalupe). Religious processions, street fairs, dancing, fireworks, and Masses honor Mexico's patroness. It is one of the country's most moving and beautiful displays of traditional culture. The Virgin of Guadalupe, an apparition of the Virgin Mary, appeared to a young man, Juan Diego, in December 1531 on a hill near Mexico City. Her image in a cloth is on display at the Basílica de Guadalupe in Mexico City. It's customary for children to dress up as Juan Diego, wearing mustaches and red bandannas. December 12.
Christmas Posadas. On each of the 9 nights before Christmas, it's customary to reenact Mary and Joseph's search for an inn in which to have the baby Jesus. Door-to-door candlelit processions pass through cities and villages nationwide. Hosted by businesses, community organizations, and even among friends, these take the place of the northern tradition of a Christmas party. December 15 to December 24.
Navidad (Christmas). Mexicans extend this celebration and leave their jobs, often beginning 2 weeks before Christmas and continuing all the way through New Year's. Many businesses close, and resorts and hotels fill. December 23 to December 25.
Víspera de Año Nuevo (New Year's Eve). As in the rest of the world, New Year's Eve in Mexico is celebrated with parties, fireworks, and plenty of noise. However, contrary to U.S. custom, Mexicans celebrate the New Year at home over a traditional dinner with their families and then hit the town after midnight. December 31.