The island of Janitzio has achieved international celebrity for the candlelight vigil that local residents hold at the cemetery during the nights of November 1 and 2, the Day of the Dead. Tzintzuntzan, a village about 15km (9 1/4 miles) away, also hosts popular festivities, including folkloric dances in the main plaza and in the nearby yácatas (pre-Hispanic ruins), concerts in the church, and decorations in the cemetery. If you want to avoid the crowds, skip Janitzio and Tzintzuntzan and go to one of the smaller lakeside villages or other islands on the lake that also have extraordinary rituals. The tourism office has a schedule of events for the entire area and publishes an explanatory booklet, Días de los Muertos.
During the week surrounding Day of the Dead, artisans and vendors from all over Michoacán fill the Plaza Grande in Pátzcuaro with regional crafts. Easter week, beginning the Friday before Palm Sunday, is special, too. Most activity centers on the basilica. There are processions involving the surrounding villages almost nightly, and in Tzintzuntzan, there's a reenactment of the betrayal of Christ and a ceremonial washing of the feet.
Festival Hotel Crunch -- Make hotel reservations months in advance for Holy Week or Day of the Dead. Most hotels require a 3-night minimum stay during these events. There are some other less popular festivals in Pátzcuaro and surrounding towns; check with the tourist office to find out if any will occur during your visit.
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.