Huamantlada, My Favorite (Really) Mexican Festival

It’s here! It’s here! August is my most favorite month of the year! Why? I travel to Tlaxcala for La Humantlada and running of the bulls!

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Parade in Huamantla, Tlaxcala

Last year (2012) was the first time I visited Tlaxcala’s tiny Magic Town called Huamantla during  their biggest fair, La Feria – Humantlada. The fair, mostly known for the weekend in which they have a running of the bulls, is actually a month long celebration dedicated to the Virgin Mary. There are two huge events held during this period attracting over 300,000 visitors.

The first main event is La Noche Que Nadie Durme when the townspeople create crazy-beautiful art in the street with sand and sawdust called tapetes (rugs). This tradition is the most emblematic of Huamantla. It always starts on August 14 when the majority of the streets are closed in anticipation for the  bulls. With the streets closed,  the community is able to start the creation of their sawdust tapetes that covers about 6.5 kms. They all must finish by midnight because that is when the party and pilgrimage of Virgin de la Asuncion begins (better known to the Huamntlecos as Virgen de la Caridad).  Unfortunately, I didn’t get to witness this event since it took place during the week.. but eventually it will fall on the weekend, and I am super excited to see it.

The second main event is the actual bull run, called Huamantlada, and a tradition that has been going on for over 50 years! It takes place the Saturday following La Noche Que Nadie Duerme. The main streets of the town are barricaded off (called burladeros) and are filled with locals and visitors pumped with adrenaline (and tequila!) to confront the bulls. La Huamantlada isn’t just a running of the bulls, it has a full program around it; charreadas, parade of matadors burladeros, classic car racing, a traditional carnival (rides andgreasyfood!), art exhibitons, musical performances and more will keep you busy during La Humantlada.

My boyfriend Eddy had been going to the fair for years and was excited to include me along in his tradition. He pretty much explained it to me as a super-Mexican version of Spain’s running with the bulls and the only bull running that still exists in Mexico today. I had no idea what to expect.

Okay, I lied, I had tequila and banda music and Mexicans all over the place in my mind, and surprise, surprise, when we got there, my stereotypical vision was actually true; a sea of Mexicans, leather boots, tequila, pinatas, cuaguamas (40 oz beers) filled the streets! The most Mexican of it all was the burladeros, the seating and wood-fencing that lined the streets to “protect” people from the bulls. It was set-up in the most creative and most Mexican ways you can imagine — not coming close to any safety standards or codes– I loved it. We wandered around  and tried to find some bleachers where we could watch the releasing of the bulls from above. It’s tough- I sincerely recommend securing a spot for yourself early as it fills up quickly. See the chaos below!

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At 12 noon sharp, the town releases about 20 bulls. The brave are still standing in the streets, waiting for the bulls to make its round so they have a chance to touch them, or slap them, or waving their red capes to test their skills at matador-ing.  Besides the excitement of the bulls that lasts about 5 hours, the parade and charreada are also super fun. The parade, which happens the night before the bulls, is amazing, colorful, and instead of passing out candy, they literally pass out shots of tequila (I LOVE Mexico!).

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I had so much fun at La Feria de Huamantla, that in anticipation for 2013 Humantlada, I  bought my very own leather rodeo boots! Bring it on, toros! This year’s Huamantlada takes place August 17.  For more information on Huamantla, click here. For information about the fair, visit laferiahuamantla.com.

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