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This guide to El Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende has everything you need to know about celebrating Mexican Independence Day in this charming colonial town. It covers:
- What is El Grito de Dolores?
- 9 things to do on Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende
- How to get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende
- Where to stay in San Miguel de Allende
- And so much more!
If you want to celebrate a quintessentially Mexican holiday in a traditional way, San Miguel de Allende is one of the best places in Mexico for Grito de Dolores.
This is everything you should eat, drink, and do in San Miguel when you go!
Sunset in San Miguel de Allende
What is El Grito de Dolores?
El Grito de Dolores translates to the ‘Cry of Dolores.’
It refers to the impassioned speech made by Miguel Hidalgo y Costillo in the city of Dolores, Mexico on September 16, 1810. His speech ignited the War for Independence and now September 16th is Mexico’s Independence Day and a federal holiday.
However, the real Grito de Dolores celebrations actually take place on the evening of September 15th each year.
So, although the 16th is the official holiday, if you want to celebrate Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende, plan to arrive, at the latest, in the early afternoon of the 15th because the celebrations will be that night. The 16th will be a quiet day with most of the town shut down and no major celebrations.
In Mexico City, most people convene in the central Zocolo Square to hear the president recreate the Cry of Dolores.
In San Miguel de Allende, the city celebrates Grito de Dolores with an evening of festivities and cultural events topped off by their own Cry of Dolores and fireworks at 11 pm in the central square.
What are the well-wishes for Grito de Dolores?
You can tell locals and tourists in San Miguel de Allende ‘Feliz Dia de Independencia.’ They will respond ‘Viva Mexico!’
The central square in San Miguel de Allende where most of the Grito de Dolores activities take place
9 Things to Do on Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende
Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende draws crowds from around the country. The city is a cultural center and has even been named the American Capital of Culture in 2019.
Dan and I had a blast celebrating Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende in 2019. These are some of our favorite activities for the holiday and the top things to do when you go!
Mercado de Artesianas
1. Browse the Markets
The most popular and largest market in San Miguel de Allende is the Mercado de Artesianas.
It has jewelry, food, clothes, bags, souvenirs, and anything else you could possibly need to commemorate your time in Mexico.
There’s also a pop-up market on weekends and holidays in the alley next to the Con.sentido Grill restaurant.
During our stay, we visited for an orchid market, handmade goods markets, and, of course, the market on Grito de Dolores where I bought a colorful skull shirt for 180 mxn / 9 usd and a small bottle of mezcal for 50 mxn / 2.50 usd. Click here to find the rotating market on Google Maps.
Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden
2. Visit Charco del Ingenio or Fabrica de Aurora
Because the Grito de Dolores celebrations in San Miguel de Allende don’t begin until the evening, you can check out some of the other popular sights in the city before heading to the central square.
Two destinations I recommend are the Charco del Ingenio Botanical Garden and the Fabrica de Aurora gallery.
The botanical garden is about a 30-minute (uphill) walk from the center but it’s worth the effort (of course, you can also take a quick taxi to get there as well). Entrance costs 50 mxn / 2.50 usd and will give you access to over 160 acres acres of protected land.
Charco del Ingenio has a cactus garden, sculptures, panoramic views of the city, canyon pathways, lakes, a cafe, and so much more to explore and it’s a great place to stretch your legs and get a view of San Miguel from above. You can take a guided tour of the gardens or get there on your own with this guide.
Gallery in Fabrica de Aurora
If exploring the great outdoors isn’t really your thing, you can also walk 20 minutes to the Fabrica de Aurora.
This abandoned textile mill was turned into an array of art galleries featuring work from artists around the country. It’s colorful, varied, and quite mesmerizing at times – and, even better, entrance is completely free.
There’s also a cafe on a duck pond here to grab a coffee and fuel up for the night ahead before heading back to the San Miguel city center. If you want to learn more, add on this guided art tour to local studios in the city.
Rockin’ some festive headgear on Grito de Dolores
3. Get into the Holiday Spirit With Festive Accessories
Wear the Mexican national colors of red, white, and green and then top off your outfit with some festive gear from the vendors in the central square.
Dan bought a spectacular cowboy hat while I opted for a flower crown. You can also get scarves, shirts, sombreros, and plenty of other accessories. Most cost around 50 to 100 mxn / 2.50 to 5 usd.
Aldama Street, one of my favorite Instagram spots in San Miguel
4. Photograph the city
Now that you have a sombrero or flower crown, it’s time to take selfies around the city.
Use this Instagram Guide to San Miguel de Allende to discover the 15 best photo spots around the city and permanently capture your Grito de Dolores memories here or consider booking one of the many professional photoshoots on Airbnb.
Dan with his absolutely massive chicharron ‘snack’ on Grito de Dolores
5. Eat Traditional Foods
Chiles en Negoda is a traditional dish served during the month of September to celebrate Mexican Independence Day because the dish is red, white, and green – the colors of the country.
Chiles en Negoda are stuffed peppers topped with a walnut cream sauce and garnished with pomegranate seeds. Restaurants around the city will have signs advertising the dish, so make sure to try it at least once to get an authentic taste of Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende.
Of course, you also shouldn’t miss the street foods like elote (corn on the cob with mayonnaise, cheese, chili, and lime), churros, or the massive chicharrones (pictured above) topped with pickled onions, veggies, sauce, and pretzels.
You can buy all these foods from vendors in the central square or at the pop-up food market on the front/left side of the Templo de Nuestra Señora de La Salud church or book a food tour on Airbnb to eat and drink your way through the city like a local.
Luna Tapas Bar at the Rosewood Hotel
6. Day Drink at the Rooftop Bars
The Luna Tapas Bar at the Rosewood Hotel is the most beautiful rooftop bar in San Miguel de Allende.
I also like La Azotea rooftop bar because it’s only a few steps from the central square, is a bit cheaper than the Luna Tapas Bar, and – of course – has beautiful views of the rolling hills and countryside around San Miguel de Allende as well. Just don’t forget to try pulque, the ancestral drink of the Aztec gods, while you’re here!
Mariachi band at dinner at Mercado del Carmen
7. Listen to Mariachi Bands in the Square
Massive mariachi bands (they usually seemed to have at least ten people) wander the main square and even enter restaurants and markets asking if groups want to buy a few tunes.
Don’t quote me on this, but it seems like songs cost around 150 to 200 mxn / 7 to 10 usd for two or three. Of course, you can buy a few, but you can also just mooch off other groups who do and wander by for a listen.
Lots of Mexicans know the traditional mariachi songs and will sing along with the bands, creating a super festive and happy atmosphere as evening falls.
Beautiful light show on the San Miguel Arcangel Church
8. Take Part in the Cultural Events
There are a lot of cultural events in San Miguel de Allende throughout the month of September.
On Grito de Dolores, all the church bells in the city will go off at 5 pm.
There was also a crazy awesome light show on the main church at 9 pm and 10 pm on the days leading up to the holiday and we watched concerts and dances on teh stage in front of the Templo de Nuestra Senora de La Salud church as well.
Check out this calendar of events or look at the calendars posted in the main square to catch all the fun things going on during Grito de Dolores in San Miguel de Allende.
Massive crowds gathering for the fireworks more than two hours before they began
9. Watch the Fireworks
The main event for Grito de Dolores in San Miguel is the reenactment of the ‘Cry of Dolores’ in the square at 11 pm followed by a massive, hour-long firework show.
The square starts to get really crowded starting around 9 pm so if you want a spot to hear the speech then make sure to go early.
If you just want to see the fireworks, you can climb up the streets leading away from the square for a higher vantage point and fewer crowds.
Town of Dolores Hidalgo
Bonus: How to Take a Day Trip to Dolores Hidalgo
As you now know, the original Cry of Dolores was in the city of Dolores Mexico. Dolores has since been renamed to Dolores Hidalgo to commemorate Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla, the man who made the speech.
Did you know that Dolores Hidalgo is only an hour away from San Miguel?
If you’re going to be in town for a few days for the holiday, consider taking a quick and easy day trip to the city where it all began.
This step-by-step Dolores Hidalgo day trip guide will tell you exactly how to get there, what to do, where to eat, and more.
El Grito Bar in San Miguel de Allende commemorating the Cry of Dolores on their sign
How to Get to San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City
It’s easy to get from Mexico City to San Miguel de Allende by bus.
Buses to San Miguel de Allende leave multiple times a day from Terminal Norte. There are a few different companies running the route so the quality and ticket prices can vary.
I like the ETN company because they have the nicest buses but they’re also some of the most expensive. The double-decker buses have large, spacious seats and are super comfortable (try to get the seats one through three which all have panoramic views of the ride).
With ETN, tickets cost 635 mxn / 32 usd each way and the journey is about 4.5 hours from start to finish.
You’ll arrive at the San Miguel Central Bus Station which is about a ten-minute taxi ride from the center (expect to pay around 50 to 100 mxn / 2.50 to 5 usd for the trip).
If you don’t want to go on your own, you can also book a tour to San Miguel de Allende from Mexico City and skip the hassle of planning anything at all!
Pretty doors on pretty streets in the pretty city of San Miguel
Where to Stay in San Miguel de Allende
The Rosewood Hotel and the unique L´Ôtel at Dôce18 Concept House are two of the top-rated hotels in San Miguel de Allende. Both have pools, restaurants, and free breakfast, and the Rosewood Hotel has a beautiful rooftop bar as well.
We stayed in this beautiful Airbnb for five weeks and loved the traditional Mexican art and beautiful arched windows – if it’s available, I definitely recommend it as well!
Ready to go?
This article is part of the Secrets of San Miguel Series. Read the rest below:
Or, plan the rest of your trip with the Mexico Series for more insider tips on what to see, do, eat, drink, and discover in the country!
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