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Puerto Vallarta: The City of Festivals

Aug 11, 2008
After Puerto Vallarta found its way onto the international tourism map following the release of "The Night of the Iguana," the city became a meeting place for artists, musicians and anyone seeking a cosmopolitan destination amongst incredible natural beauty. As a result, numerous festivals have developed in Puerto Vallarta, celebrating everything from independent film to haute cuisine. Throughout the year, these events welcome awestruck visitors from throughout the world and add to Puerto Vallarta's standing as one of Mexico's premier destinations.

Inspired by the legacy of director John Huston and his film, "The Night of the Iguana," the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas brings together the best independent films and documentaries from North and South America each year. Similar to the Cannes and Sundance festivals, the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas features more than a week full of screenings supported by lectures, workshops and parties. The festival takes place each year during the first or second week of November, immediately before the beginning of peak tourism season. Families visiting Puerto Vallarta on a strict budget should consider traveling during this period as travel costs are lower, the weather is great and there is certainly plenty to experience.

Families visiting Puerto Vallarta in the weeks before the beginning of high tourism season can also participate in the city's acclaimed Gourmet Festival. For 14 years, the Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Festival has brought together some of the world's best chefs and the finest fare Mexico has to offer. Often, Michelin-star chefs collaborate with local restaurants to create unique menus inspired by the culture and scenery of Puerto Vallarta. Most of these dinners, along with the cooking classes and tasting events, are open to the public. The Puerto Vallarta Gourmet Festival usually takes place during the second and third weeks of November, occasionally overlapping with the Puerto Vallarta Film Festival of the Americas.

The May Cultural Festival has become a prestigious tradition in Mexico's Jalisco state, reaching towns such as Zapopan, La Barca, Guadalajara and Puerto Vallarta. Though a number of the headline performances take place in Guadalajara, Puerto Vallarta puts on a number of exhibits and performances by international artists. Each year, the festival honors a foreign country by welcoming the visual artists and musical performers that represent the finest each nation has to offer. This year's festival was dedicated to Germany and featured concerts by the Stuttgart Chamber Orchestra and gallery exhibits by up-and-coming German artists. Though the schedule for next year's festival has not been announced, visitors will have a chance to experience the cultural sites of Puerto Vallarta, accompanied by the finest music and art from another unique culture. The May Cultural Festival takes place each year during the entire month of May with most major events scheduled during the final two weeks.

Puerto Vallarta is also home to the world's newest contemporary art festival. Known officially as Puerto Vallarta: Arte Contemporaneo, the festival is designed to bring together the work of Mexican and international artists. This year, the festival focused on artists from the United States and Mexico and featured panel discussions on issues as diverse as globalization, extended borders and the cultural identities of Mexican artists working in the United States. Many of the artists featured in this year's festival exhibited work at prestigious venues such as the Whitney Biennial and the Tate Modern in London. Puerto Vallarta: Arte Contemporaneo plans to return next year during the final weekend of May with larger exhibits and more special events.

The local art scene is celebrated each year in November during the Festival de las Artes. During the final week of the month, nearly all of Puerto Vallarta's art galleries stage elaborate openings and events that welcome art aficionados and curious travelers alike. As much of the work on display belongs to Mexican artists, including many Puerto Vallarta residents, many of the artists are on hand at the events to discuss the trade with art lovers. Now entering its 12th season, the Festival de las Artes is one of the best ways for tourists to experience the vibrant art scene of Puerto Vallarta. Best of all, most of the events during the festival are free of charge.

Though all the events mentioned here take place in either November or May, there is no shortage of similar events throughout the year in Puerto Vallarta. When accounting for Puerto Vallarta's incredible scenery and cosmopolitan flair, it is no wonder that the world's best flock to the city each year. When you come to Puerto Vallarta, plan on visiting some of these festivals where you can interact with remarkable artists, chefs and filmmakers while enjoying the lush backdrop of one of Mexico's premier destinations.
About the Author
Justin Burch writes articles about travel in Puerto Vallarta for the Marriott Resorts.
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