Looking for a destination in Mexico that delivers the traditions of Dia de los Muertos? I found it in Queretaro State thanks to Hotel Mision’s unique haciendas in off-the-beaten path places.
In 2012, Eddy and I decided to head to Queretaro for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) weekend–which just happens to be our anniversary weekend as well. Combining both the holiday and our anniversary, this is undoubtedly favorite week of the entire year. The two years prior to this would be hard to beat as we spent them in some of the most traditional cities for Dia de los Muertos (Oaxaca and Mixquic) but I was convinced Queretaro would be great as well. Thanks to our friends at Hoteles Mision, we were able to enjoy the long weekend in a couple of their properties, touristing around the state. The weekend called for romance, culture, and lots of cempasuchils!
We started out in Juriquilla which is about 15 minutes north of Queretaro City and known for being a ‘posh’ area. For me, the biggest draw to the hotel in Juriquilla was that it has an arena to hosts palenques (cock fights) and Eddy and I have been meaning to cross that off our bucket list; plus, what is more romantic than roosters killing eachother, right? To our dismay, there wasn’t one going on the weekend. Either way, looking for romantic hotels in Queretaro, I think we lucked out with Mision Juriquilla—it was an old hacienda with beautiful courtyards and dramatic medieval accents. Strolling the grounds hand in hand was enough for me, and there even was a wedding going on (a sign? hint hint).
The next morning we headed to Queretaro’s Centro to eat at our favorite restaurant Antonjeria. Doing research online, I had the impression that there were some pretty cool exhibitions and altars in Queretaro for Dia de los Muertos. However, once we got there and asked around at the tourist kiosk (and the guy who was giving my boots a nice buff), it seemed that there wasn’t much going on at all. There were only a few altars and two art exhibitions which only had very little on display. The ‘afenqiue’ market we were told to visit was only about 15 stalls along a park that sold chocolate and sugar Calaveras.
After being disappointed to see there was nothing to do for Dia de los Muertos in Queretaro, we decided to head to our next venture near San Juan del Rio. We checked into Hotel Mision San Gil, yet another old charming hacienda converted into a hotel, and was welcomed with beautiful altars, papel picado, and a dramatically dark (but in a good way) ambiance. The hotel was even having their own ofrenda contest where each department created their own altar and guests of the hotel voted! The receptionist commented that there was a lot going on in San Juan del Rio and they were holding their Festival de Dia de los Muertos (Oct 31-Nov 3). The festival included various concerts, art shows, theater performances, recoriddos de leyends (tours of old legends), ofrenda/altar contest, calveritas, and prehispanic ritual dances. San Juan del Rio also has several panteons (cemetaries), and while they are usually reserved for families, I respectfully asked if I could visit. For me, the tradition of visiting and decorating your loved one’s grave is a really complex and beautiful thing that provides compelling insight to Mexican culture and traditions.
So to wrap it up, if you are looking for things to do for Day of the Dead in Queretaro, I suggest going to San Juan del Rio instead. Also, it was recommended to me to visit the capillas of Tomalin, which is a little ways out of the way but I imagine a great experience.
I’d like to thank Hoteles Mision for hosting me and helping me discover Mexico’s beauty! #puebleandoconmision