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When to go — Oaxaca

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Related articles: Weather, Holidays, Festivals & Events.

When to visit Oaxaca really depends on your interests, where you want to go, and how adamant you are about avoiding crowds, rain, and higher prices. That said, many longtime visitors to Oaxaca think anytime of the year is good time to visit, including the beaches in the summer.

In the city of Oaxaca and surrounding valleys, there are four high seasons and several short busy periods, coinciding with holidays, festivals, events, and anniversaries, when crowds swell and prices spike. These are also the times when Oaxaca is most festive and alive. Even if you're adverse to crowds, you still might enjoy experiencing one of Oaxaca's festivals.

High Seasons:

Christmas-New Year, begins about a week before Christmas and lasts until about a week after New Year.
Easter, the actual dates float, but usually for about two weeks beginning at the very end of March to mid-April.
July, August both months are busy, but the crowds peak for a couple of weeks in mid-July when the Guelaguetza dance festival is in full swing.
Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos), festivities last for about a week around the 1st of November.

Other busy periods:

Constitution Day (Día de la Constitución), celebrated for 3-4 days around the first Monday in February.
Benito Juárez Birthday (Natalicio del Benemérito de las Américas), celebrated for 3-4 days around March 21.
May Day, Cinco de Mayo, these two holidays overlap, festivities usually start on April 30 and last until May 5.
Mexican Independence Day, celebrated for 5-6 days around September 16.
Anniversary of the Mexican Revolution, celebrated for 3-4 days around November 20.

The beaches have two short high seasons:

Christmas-New Year, begins about a week before Christmas and lasts until about a week after New Year.
Easter, the actual dates float, but usually for about two weeks beginning at the very end of March to mid-April.

If you decide to travel anywhere in Oaxaca during one of the high seasons, be sure to make hotel and airline reservations well in advance.

If clear blue skies the entire trip are a must, late October to May is the time to visit anywhere in the state, as the rainy season begins in late spring, runs through the summer, and lasts into early fall. During the rainy season, rain doesn't fall continuously for months on end. Rather, mornings usually begin sunny, staying clear until the afternoons, when clouds build up and showers break out almost daily, capping off the worst of the days' heat. When the showers do come after a six month absence, the soil moistens, the landscape after having laid dormant becomes lush and green again, staying so until December. In the fall, showers abating, the soil starts to dry, the landscape slowly becoming browner and dustier until the following June, when the rains begin again.

Summer in the city of Oaxaca, its surrounding valleys, and the sierras is a good time to visit. Don't be scared off by the rain, the crowds, and the prices—the showers are usually brief, and so are the disruptions, if any, to the days' plans; the crowds, outside of the Guelaguetza, are really not so crowded; and good deals can still be found. Besides, can it get any better than sitting at a sidewalk café on the Zócalo, waiting out a late afternoon summer shower, sipping a café con leche? Along the coast and the Isthmus are another matter. For some, the heat and the humidity will be too much, while for others, the sunny mornings and the rock-bottom prices will be to much to pass up.

Fall is another good time to visit anywhere in Oaxaca. The whole state stays lush and green until December, even though the rains are usually gone by late October or early November. Gone also are the crowds and the high prices, except for a week around November 1 (Day of the Dead).

Winter is a great time—perhaps the best—to visit anywhere in Oaxaca. About midway through December another high season begins in the city, its surrounding valleys, and the coast and ends about a week after New Year. By now, the landscape's green has receded to brown and become dusty, but the weather is otherwise perfect. By the second week of January, the high season's crowds have thinned and the whole state is safe for anyone who's adverse to crowds.

Spring, especially May right before the rains, is the warmest season everywhere in the state. There's is a high season for about two weeks around Easter, but otherwise there're no crowds in the spring and the prices are low.

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