Baja California

Experience Baja

Snowbirds will have to stay a while to visit all these enticing events

by Dan and Lisa Goy
Picture of parade float with dancers on it.
The week-long Carnaval in La Paz is celebrated with extravagant floats and costumes. — Photo courtesy Dan and Lisa Goy

Baja has so much to offer snowbirds that it’s hard to know where to start. Here are a few we guarantee will be an experience you will remember for years to come. 

Baja 1000 Off-Road Race

Baja 1000, or Baja Mil, is an off-road race that takes place on Mexico's Baja California Peninsula in the fall. The event includes various types of vehicle classes such as small- and large-bore motorcycles, stock Volkswagens, production vehicles, buggies, trucks and custom-fabricated race vehicles. The course has remained relatively the same over the years—from Ensenada to La Paz (1,600 kilometres). 

The first official race started in Tijuana, Baja California, on October 31, 1967, and was named the NORRA Mexican 1000 Rally. In 1973, the Baja California governor turned over the event to a non-profit Mexican corporation called the Baja Sports Committee, which renamed the event to Baja Mil (Baja 1000). 

The factory-supported all-spaceframe Trophy Truck entries are the most visible and expensive, often in excess of $250,000.

This year is the 50th anniversary of the famous race and takes place November 14 to 18, 2017.

Baja road race.
Hitting the trail at the Baja 1000 Off-Road Race. — Photo courtesy Dan and Lisa Goy

The Carnaval in La Paz

We have experienced the Carnaval a couple of times; it is a blast for sure and free!

The Carnaval is an official Mexican holiday that kicks off a five-day celebration of the libido before the Christian season of Lent begins on Ash Wednesday. Beginning the weekend before Lent, the Carnaval is celebrated exuberantly with parades, floats, costumes, music and dancing in the streets with the most vigorous celebration taking place over the one weekend in Mexico. Carnaval is equivalent to Mardi Gras in New Orleans.  

The annual Carnaval in La Paz is held mid-February and attracts tens of thousands of mostly Mexicans from throughout Baja but few tourists. That’s because La Paz remains relatively off-the-beaten track of most tourists, unlike the more widely known destinations of Cancun and Cabo San Lucas. The Carnaval extends for two kilometres along the waterfront boardwalk.  

The Carnaval will be held February 8 to 13, 2018.

Music Festival and Film Festival in Todos Santos

The Todos Santos Music Festival mixes music industry legends and local artists to raise funds for local charities.  R.E.M.'s Peter Buck has curated lineups that span rock, alt-country and Latin music for events usually set for the legendary Hotel California and in the historic town plaza. The Music Festival normally runs for four days in January each year and has grown from a few friends playing for a few people into an incredible event featuring well-known bands and bigger crowds, without losing the intimacy or impromptu spirit.  

Over the last 14 years the Todos Santos Film Festival has built up a reputation as one of the best showcases of new Mexican/Latin American films, documentaries and shorts. Last year was no exception and included a great selection of movies such as the much-anticipated documentary on Hurricane Odile, which ravaged Cabo in 2014, and La Tortuga Primordial, a documentary filmed around Baja California Sur that explores the relationship between turtles and humans, and the attempts that are being made to save them. This festival often runs for a few days at the beginning of March and is very inexpensive.

Art Walk in San Jose del Cabo

In Baja Mexico behind San Jose del Cabo's historic main square and church lies the ever-growing Gallery District, which in recent years has become the cultural centre of Los Cabos with many high-end fine art galleries displaying original paintings, sculpture, photography, prints and jewelry made by local, throughout Mexico and international contemporary artists. 

This is a wonderful evening stroll visiting the art galleries, sipping wine and dining in the neighbourhood restaurants. Often galleries will have special events such as “artist in attendance” or openings of new exhibitions. This is an exceptional experience for those appreciating any art—a great value given no fees are incurred.

The Art Walk happens every Thursday night from 5 to 9 p.m. November through May.

Dan and Lisa Goy standing in front of the Hotel California.
Dan and Lisa Goy pose in front of the Hotel California. — Photo courtesy Dan and Lisa Goy

Related Articles