Piñatas, pastorals and posada precessions – an alternative Christmas on Mexico’s stunning Pacific Coast

For a unique Christmas experience look no further than the pristine beaches of Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit. With vibrant traditional celebrations and average temperatures of 23°C in December, this side of Mexico has all the attributes for an alternative winter getaway. In fact you’ll be spoilt for choice with festive things to do there this Christmas...

Puerto Vallarta

There is no shortage of Christmas spirit in Puerto Vallarta. Down every turning you can discover a new stylish restaurant serving up the finest seasonal cuisine, or beautifully decorated street of houses laden with nativity ornaments.

For a glimpse of how the locals celebrate, wander through the charming cobbled streets or stroll down the unmissable Malecon, the city’s half-mile long historic centre and waterfront, watching the revelry unfold around you.

The International Fireworks Festival will see hundreds gather on the Malecon and is an absolute must for a vivid show-stopping display, running from December 20th through to New Years Eve. Don’t forget to join in the local tradition with a glass of wine and consumption of 12 grapes, each one representing 12 months of wishes in the coming year.

To immerse yourself in culture this Christmas, book seats to a show at the modern Teatro Vallarta, the official theatre for plays, concerts, opera, ballet and much more. Special events held there during this period include a live showing of singers performing in the famous Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, on December 13th.

Riviera Nayarit

Just 10 minutes north of the airport, you can also find the multicultural Riviera Nayarit. This comparatively undiscovered destination is an authentic paradise which really comes to life at this time of year.

Night-owls should venture to Lazaro Cardenas Street which is beautifully illuminated during the Christmas period with environmentally friendly trees made out of recyclable plastics. These decorations raise awareness as part of the Recycling Christmas Tree Challenge from December 19th right through to 2nd January.

If you want to have a sensory experience, get involved in a Chili Cook Off and tingle your taste buds on December 7th, or revel in the region’s history with an array of activities and competitions at the Anniversary of Bahia de Banderas on the 11th.

In late December more events are held by the cultural group ‘The Colectivo San Pancho’, who aim to inspire artistic expression through a series of community-funded festivals, concerts and exhibitions. Watersports are second to none here too, so sail away into paradise mid-month for three days at the Banderas Bay Blast Sailing Regatta.

Traditional festivities are also still maintained in this part of Mexico, as December begins with a 12 day pilgrimage, followed by a celebration of “posadas”, a seasonal fiesta for families and neighbours (December 16th - 24th) with piñatas and a “noche buena” feast. The official festive period in Mexico lasts from December 12th to January 6th, so you can finally banish any winter blues and make Christmas last just that bit longer.