¡Feliz Navidad y Próspero Año Nuevo! The Christmas Season in Los Cabos

There is something very special about the holidays, particularly in México, where the festive season persists for close to two months and includes many holy days that are not commonly celebrated in the U.S. It is a period of frequent fiestas, so much so that the month-long holiday period between December 12, the day honoring the Virgin of Guadalupe, and January 6, the remembrance of Los Tres Reyes Magos (the three wise men), is only half-jokingly referred to as the Guadalupe–Reyes marathon. But despite the plethora of parties that accompany the holidays, the Christmas season in Los Cabos is in large part a time of devout observances and intimate gatherings with family and friends.

The town square in Cabo San Lucas, Plaza Amelia Wilkes, is usually strung with enough holiday-themed ornaments and decorations to wrap the central gazebo in a veil of bright, carnivalesque colors. The plaza it also typically home to a large, lavishly bedecked Christmas tree, and a beautiful nativity scene (in Spanish, nacimiento) that is located near the natural history museum. However, with the plaza principal in San Lucas in the midst of an ambitious remodeling project, cultural-minded visitors will have to journey to sister city San José del Cabo to enjoy the 2018 holiday season in all its traditional glory (NOTE: The main downtown square in San José, Plaza Mijares, has recently received a facelift of its own, and has never looked better).

Non-religious festivals and fiestas are also a big draw for both locals and visitors, particularly the annual food and wine fête Sabor a Cabo, the Dressed to the K9s charity ball, and Casa Dorada’s elegant costume-themed New Year’s Eve celebration. The holiday season also coincides with the start of whale watching season in Los Cabos, in which tourists migrate south to see grays, humpbacks and other whales do the same on the way to their traditional winter breeding grounds off the coast of Baja California Sur.


Maratón Guadalupe-Reyes is a phrase often used in México to describe the month-long binge of holiday parties and festivities, but in Los Cabos this marathon begins a little earlier. Typically held the during the first week of December, Sabor a Cabo is an enormous food and wine festival that brings together chefs from over 50 of the best local restaurants, and representatives from over 25 wineries, for a bacchanal of eating, drinking and live musical entertainment. Last year's main event saw over 3,000 hungry attendees descend on Quivira, a luxury resort and residential development on the Pacific Coast of Cabo San Lucas, and featured a performance from legendary band Earth, Wind & Fire. Panamanian born pop star Miguel Bosé will be the musical headliner for the 2018 main event, scheduled for Dec. 1 at Quivira. A rural food and wine tasting is also on tap, slated for Nov. 18 at Los Tamarindos, a farm-to-table restaurant located just outside San José del Cabo.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: This is the best annual food and wine festival in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: For information about tickets and affiliated events, visit

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This beautiful old church is set amid San José del Cabo's historic downtown area, a stone's throw from City Hall, the Casa de la Cultura, and the Distrito del Arte (Art District). Originally founded as a mission in 1730 by Jesuit priest Nicolás Tamaral, the church has undergone several moves and renovations. Tamaral remains an integral part of local lore, however, and one of the church's most arresting features is a mosaic above the entrance depicting his killing by the area's native inhabitants, the Pericúes. The church moved to its current location near the middle of the 19th century, but had to be rebuilt in the early 20th century after being badly damaged by a hurricane. Despite the history - this is one of the most important cultural monuments in Los Cabos - it's a living church, and the best place in the area to attend weekly and holiday services.

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The season's most elegant soirée is thrown on behalf of the Los Cabos Humane Society, with a fundraising silent auction and raffle sandwiched between fine food and wine, and live entertainment. The 2018 edition Dressed to the K9s charity ball is showcasing a "Glitz and Glam" theme, and will be held Saturday, Dec. 1 at the luxurious Sheraton Grand Los Cabos Hacienda del Mar. Only 200 tickets are available for the "dress to impress" event, which will feature a cocktail reception with martini bars, a gourmet dinner, and plenty of music and dancing. Special room rates at the resort are reserved for attendees.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: This is the most elegant gala held in Cabo San Lucas during the Christmas season.

Chris's expert tip: To purchase tickets online, visit

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México has its fair share of traditional spirits, from tequila and mezcal to popular cervezas like Corona and Pacífico. Not surprisingly, the country also boasts a number of excellent seasonal sippers. Ponche Navideño (literally, Christmas punch) is perhaps the best known, and is distinguished from typical alcohol-laced fruit punches by the presence of tejocotes, an indigenous fruit that comes from the hawthorn tree. Noche Buena, a dark, spicy bock style lager from Cervecería Cuauhtémoc-Moctezuma in Monterrey, is the most popular seasonal beer. It's available each year from October through December, and is immediately identifiable by the red and green poinsettia flowers on its label (Both poinsettias and Christmas Eve are called Nochebuena in Spanish). Rompope is yet another Christmas time favorite. First made in México by nuns at Puebla's Convento de Santa Clara in the 17th century, this eggnog style drink is perfect for holiday parties and events. For a special treat, chill it and float a little Kahlua on top.

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Las Posadas last for nine days, from December 16th through the 24th, and commemorate the journey of Mary and Joseph from Nazareth to Bethlehem. Each night there are candlelit processions and reenactments, which culminate in house parties after admittance has been granted at the "inn." The most important day of the season in México is not Christmas, but Christmas Eve (Nochebuena). This is the last night of the posadas, and the birth of Christ is celebrated at midnight. Traditionally, families then attend a midnight mass, followed by dinner and presents. Christmas Day is quite low-key and leisurely, with most feasting on the leftovers from the previous night's dinner. For visitors, most local resorts offer special Christmas dinners, as do some area restaurants.

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Holy Innocents Day, also known as Childermas, on December 28th is a remembrance of King Herod's decree that all male infants in Bethlehem should be killed in order to eliminate the threat to his throne posed by the baby Jesus, whose birth he had learned of from the three wise men. The day is also celebrated as a Mexican version of April Fool's Day, with jokes, pranks, tall tales, and elaborate hoaxes. One should greet all statements made on this day with a healthy amount of skepticism, and under no circumstances should money be lent, as tradition holds that any debts incurred on this day do not have to be honored.

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The relationship of New Year's Eve to New Year's Day is somewhat like that of Christmas Eve to Christmas, meaning the first day is given over to family dinners and celebrations, while the second day is for rest, relaxation and the enjoyment of leftovers. After the dinner on New Year's Eve, many people go out to enjoy the local parties and theme nights, which run the gamut from barefoot beachfront formals to masked carnivals. Fireworks are a staple of virtually every Mexican celebration, but the New Year in Cabo San Lucas is always greeted with a particularly dazzling display over Médano Beach. Once the clock strikes midnight, it is also traditional to eat twelve grapes, with the grapes representing good fortune for each of the next twelve months.

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Luxurious beachfront Casa Dorada Resort & Spa is famed for its glamorous costume-themed New Year's Eve parties, and is thus the go-to place in Cabo San Lucas to ring in 2019 in style. Last year's celebration featured a "Gatsby" theme, with vintage 1920s era costumes and flapper-friendly festivities that included an open bar and deluxe buffet from the resort's 12 Tribes restaurant, as well as live music and up-close views of the spectacular fireworks show over Médano Beach at midnight. The theme for this year's New Year's Eve party is "Back to the Future," and as always, over 500 guests are expected to attend.

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This holiday celebrates the three wise men - Melchior, Caspar and Balthazar - who journeyed to Bethlehem with gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh on the night of Jesus' birth. As with Christmas Eve, this is a day for children to open presents, and for gatherings of friends and family. One of the signature treats associated with the holiday is a sweet bread called rosca de reyes, which is readily available at Starbucks, as well as all local bakeries. Miniature figures of the baby Jesus are hidden inside the bread, and the person who finds one first is expected to have a tamales party on Candlemas, February 2nd. Candlemas marks the end of the long Christmas season in Cabo San Lucas, but one of the heights of the tourist season, as snowbirds continue to flee frigid temperatures north of the border for sunshine, beaches, whale watching, golf and other activities not normally associated with wintry cheer.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: This is the last major day of the Christmas season in Los Cabos, as well as the final opportunity for children to open gifts.

Chris's expert tip: Rosca de reyes bread is available at bakeries throughout Los Cabos.

Read more about El Día de los Tres Reyes Magos →

Whale Watching season in Los Cabos traditionally stretches from mid-December through mid-March, and sees an estimated 5,000 to 10,000 whales migrate south to breeding grounds at Magdalena Bay and in the Sea of Cortés. Grays and humpbacks are the most commonly sighted, but lucky visitors can occasionally see blue, sperm, fin and pilot whales, as well as the occasional orca. The annual migration is big business locally, and virtually every local tour boat offers seasonal whale watching excursions. High-speed inflatables provide the best chance for up-close-and-personal looks at these leviathans, but you don't necessarily have to sign up for a tour to enjoy sightings. Whales are often spied from area beaches, as well as coastal hotels, restaurants and golf courses.

Recommended for Holiday Attractions because: Whale watching is the number one attraction during the holiday season in Los Cabos.

Chris's expert tip: Humpbacks often breach spectacularly, and typically provide the best photo opportunities

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Meet Chris Sands

Chris Sands is co-founder of CaboVivo, co-writer of Fodor's Los Cabos travel guidebook, and a contributor to 10Best at USA Today, as well as other websites and publications. His specialty is...  More About Chris