October is a great month to visit Guadalajara. Cultural and arts activities are scheduled all over the city. In addition to a month-long carnival, there are Mariachi performances and Ballet Folklorico performances scheduled on various plazas downtown.
On a Wednesday evening we ran into the Mariachi Internacional de Guadalajara playing in the gazebo on Plaza de las Armas and folk dancers performing late into the night on Plaza de los Fundadores de Guadalajara a couple blocks down. Other Festival activities include concerts and poetry readings around town.
Outside of October, the Mercado de San Juan de Dios (also known as Mercado Libertad)is always a great place to visit. It is the largest indoor market of its kind in Latin America. Three levels of vendor booths sell everything from kitchen utinsils to fine jewelry, musical instruments to pig intestines, folk art to produce. If you're looking for something in particular, it's best to ask. A lot of people come out of the market thinking it didn't have what they were looking for, when they just never made it to the right part of the market. Most of the folk art vendors are located on the central patio, but there are a few more scattered throughout the market.
Most tourists don't venture beyond El Centro and Tlaqupaque (another great place to buy folk art), but if you have kids along, it's worth a trip to the Zapopan neighborhood to Trompo Magico (the Magic Top), an interactive museum designed for children, but a lot of fun for adults too. Little kids can play at making tortillas or being a doctor. Big kids can learn to create animated films, edit film, try digital photography, play in a rock and roll band and much more. Language isn't really an issue, but if you call ahead, you can arrange an English-speaking guide.
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