Guadalajara EventsGuadalajara's biggest annual event is the October Fair (Fiestas de Octubre). This month-long artistic and cultural festival offers concerts, ballet, opera, theater, movies, folk art expositions and live music. Events take place at various locations, many in the vicinity of Plaza Tapatía, where outdoor stages and pavilions are set up. Hotel and ticket reservations are highly advised for the entire month of October and should be made in advance.
Major celebrations are held on Independence Day, on Sept. 15, and for the return of the Virgin of Zapopan to the Basilica of Zapopan on Oct. 12. Cultural events take place the last 2 weeks of February before the beginning of Lent.
Other festivities with a special tapatío flavor are the Day of the Three Wise Men on Jan. 6; the National Ceramics Fair, in Tlaquepaque during mid-June; the Day of St. James the Apostle in Tonalá on July 25, which features a mock battle with participants representing Indians and Spaniards; and Day of the Dead celebrations Nov. 1-2. Most of these events include tianguis (open-air markets), charreadas (rodeos), fireworks, costumed dancers, mariachi bands and vendors selling regional food specialties.
The Christmas holidays in Guadalajara are celebrated with pastorelas, folk representations of the birth of Christ, and posadas, re-enactments of Mary and Joseph's search for an inn. The city's museums often participate, offering traditional dance programs and providing special refreshments. Families also get together to take part in candlelight processions to each other's homes, and nativity scenes are set up in churches and plazas. If you'll be visiting during December, check with your hotel, the Jalisco State Tourism Office or the bulletin boards at museums for further information.
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Dial 911 (emergency services) and ask to be connected to an English-speaking operator if you need immediate assistance.
Hospital México-Americano, Calle Colomos #2110, (33) 3648-3333 or 01 (800) 462-2238 (toll-free long distance within Mexico), and the Red Cross (Cruz Roja), (33) 3614-1269, 911 (ambulance assistance) or 01 (800) 667-4767 (toll-free long distance within Mexico), both provide 24-hour emergency service. Major hotels and the U.S. Consulate should have information regarding doctors who are on 24-hour call.
English-language newspapers, including the weekly Guadalajara Reporter, are available at newsstands and the Hotel Fenix, downtown at avenidas Corona and López Cotilla. The monthly Lake Chapala Reporter has information about the communities around Lake Chapala.
Sandi Bookstore, Av. Tepeyac #718 in the Chapalita neighborhood west of downtown, has English-language newspapers and books. The Sanborns restaurant chain has several area locations and also offers books, newspapers and magazines in English; the downtown branch is at avenidas Juárez and 16 de Septiembre, a block south of Plaza de Armas.
A tourist information booth is inside the southern doorway of the Government Palace (Palacio de Gobierno), facing Plaza de Armas; it is open Mon.-Fri. 9-3 and 6-8 p.m., Sat. 9-1.
A number of casas de cambio (currency exchange houses) are located downtown along Avenida López Cotilla between calles Corona and Degollado, about 3 blocks south of the cathedral. Most of them post their rates, and they normally don't have the lines that banks often have. Dollars can be exchanged at branches of Banamex banks Mon.-Sat. 9-1. A centrally located downtown Banamex branch is on Paseo Degollado, 3 blocks east of the Degollado Theater. ATMs are the quickest and most convenient way to get cash; withdrawals are in pesos.
The rules in Guadalajara are the same as those in any big city. At night, avoid urban neighborhoods that are away from the downtown core or other tourist areas; dark side streets in particular can be dangerous. If going out for the evening or taking a side trip during the day, it's a good idea to hire a taxi driver affiliated with your hotel. Keep an eye on personal items at all times, especially in the crowded shopping districts, and avoid wearing jewelry or carrying large sums of money. Women are not welcome in cantina bars and other bastions of heavy drinking and machismo attitudes.