IF YOU’RE ATTRACTED to the outrageous, this annual festival in San Juan de la Vega — held every February on Fat Tuesday — is probably for you. It’s known as the Exploding Hammer Festival (or Bomb Hammer Party) and is a centuries-old tradition that honors St. John the Baptist, who is said to have helped Juan de la Vega in recovering gold that was stolen by bandits (some consider de la Vega Mexico’s Robin Hood). This festival used to take place in the town’s streets in a parade, but it’s been moved to a large open field.
How to get there
The town of San Juan de la Vega doesn’t have much for accommodations, so plan on staying in nearby Celaya, which you can reach by bus from Mexico City (4 hours) or via a flight to Santiago de Querétaro and a one-hour bus ride. From Celaya, it’s only a 15-minute taxi ride to San Juan de la Vega.
What you should consider
- The festival goes from 9 AM to 3 PM
- Bystanders can (and do) get injured from flying shrapnel
- Pack protective eyewear (e.g. sunglasses) and earplugs
- Bring a bandana to cover your nose and mouth to help avoid breathing in sulphur gasses (the homemade explosives are made from fertilizer)