Día de la Candelaria (Feb 2). The final day of a week-long fiesta, complete with dances, boat races and bulls let loose in the streets, in Tlacotalpan. Colourful fiesta in Jaltipán, near Acayucán, which includes the dance of La Malinche (Cortés’ Indian interpreter and mistress, who is said to have been born here).

Carnaval (the week before Lent; variable Feb–March) is celebrated all over the region, most riotously in Veracruz.

Congreso de Brujos (first Fri in March). Shamans, witches, wizards and healers from across Mexico attend purification rituals and celebrations in and around Catemaco, amid a festival that attracts plenty of visitors.

Fiestas de San José (March 18–19). In Naranjos, between Tuxpán and Tampico, a fiesta with many traditional dances. In Espinal, a Totonac village on the Río Tecolutla, not far from El Tajín and Papantla, you can witness the spectacular voladores.

Semana Santa (Holy Week, March/April). Re-creations of the Passion are widespread in this area. You can witness them in Papantla, where you’ll also see the voladores; in Coatzintla, a Totonac village nearby; in Cotaxtla, between Veracruz and Córdoba; and in Otatitlán. Naolinco, a beautiful village near Xalapa, stages a mock Crucifixion on Good Friday. Also celebrations in Catemaco and in the port of Alvarado – a ribald Fish Fiesta following the spirit of the Veracruz Carnaval.

Feria del Cafe (first two weeks of May). Coatepec celebrates the local crop.

Corpus Christi (variable; the Thurs after Trinity Sun). The start of a major four-day festival in Papantla with regular performances by the voladores.

Día de San Juan (June 24). Celebrated with dancing in Santiago Tuxtla,and in Martinez de la Torre, near Tlapacoyan, where the voladores perform.

Día de la Virgen del Carmen (July 15–16). A massive pilgrimage to Catemaco, accompanied by a fiesta which spills over into the following day. At the same time, Xico has a week-long celebration of Mary Magdalene.

Día de Santiago (July 25). Celebrated with fiestas in Santiago Tuxtla and Coatzintla; each lasts several days. In Tlapacoyan you can see the bizarre Baile de los Negritos.

Day of Assumption (Aug 15). Widely celebrated, particularly in Tlapacoyan, where you can see El Baile de los Negritos, and with a week-long festival in Tuxpán that includes dancing and the voladores.

Independence Day (Sept 15–16). Celebrated everywhere.

San Jeronimo (last week of Sept). Big celebrations in Coatepec.

Fiesta de la Virgen del Rosario (Oct 7). In La Antigua the patroness of fishermen is honoured with processions of canoes on the river, while Alvarado, outside Veracruz, enjoys a fiesta filling the first two weeks of the month.

Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead; Nov 2). Observed everywhere.

Dia del Niño Perdido (Dec 7). Huge candle-lit processions in Tuxpán.

Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (Dec 12). Widely observed, especially in Huatusco, Cotaxtla and Amatlán de los Reyes, near Córdoba.

Christmas (Dec 25). Celebrated everywhere. There’s a very famous festival in Santiago Tuxtla that lasts until Twelfth Night (Jan 6).

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