Culture and community come together in one of Canada's most colourful festivals.
Where would you go if you wanted a spicy travel destination? I'm guessing London, Ontario isn't on your list, and it wasn't on mine either at first. But London has a large Mexican and Latin American community, whose culture, traditions, talents, and delicious flavors come together each year for Fiesta London, an amazing event. So if you're looking to spice up your travels, look no further! I think you'd love the experience as much as I did. Here's what made my Fiesta experience so memorable.
The pounding rain of the morning may have drowned some hair and outfits, but it couldn't put a damper in everyone's spirits - everyone, that is, except for the Chihuahuas! Some of these cutie pie canines seemed to take the excitement of the crowds, the costumes, and the Chihuahua parade in stride, while others seemed less than convinced. But when it came to working their magic on the stage, all the Chihuahuas were able to dig deep and pull out some star power! It was such a sweet start to the day.
If you want to see pandemonium personified, you gotta check out the piñata breaking events at Fiesta London. Either these were the world's hardiest piñatas or they had been specially reinforced by the organizers to draw out the experience and add to the suspension.
First up: the kids gamely take their best whacks at the piñata. But no success! A few grownups are called in for some added muscle. Now, this is just a theory, but I highly suspect that the piñata rope holders were having more than just a little bit of fun when it came to deliberately bouncing piñata until it was just out of reach.
Finally, there's a promising hit! The piñata goes down with one powerful final thwack! How fitting that it was covered with Sponge Bob decorations - Bob himself made an appearance at Fiesta London, as you can see further below.
A volunteer wisely grabs the piñata before the kids can charge and shakes it upside down to release the candy. I love how the photo above shows the kids already lifting the barricade tape.
Too late! Charge they do! They kids are going crazy for the candy and, after such a suspenseful session of piñata whacking, who can blame them? When candy's involved, all bets are off!
If Lord Of The Flies had a piñata, this is what the island would look like. I've never seen such happy, enthusiastic, and will-get-candy-at-all-cost kids and they formed quite the pyramid as they piled on each other to flight for the candy scraps. Again, all's fair in love, war, and candy grabbing!
Do you think you have what it takes to win an extreme eating competition? You might think twice if you caught a glimpse of the monstrous 2 lb burritos the contestants had to conquer at Fiesta London! If you look carefully at the photo above, you'll see that the burritos are the same size at the contestant's heads!
Those burritos, mighty though they were, DID look pretty delicious. As the contestants first tucked in, I was optimistic for all of their prospects. After all, who doesn't want to inhale a delicious burrito? But as the minutes ticked by, I began to get worried.
The burritos were unfolding and things were starting to get messy. The contestants were losing the sharp stare of a prize fighter as eyes glazed over and bodies slumped forward. Would anyone finish? Turns out that all the contestants actually did pretty well in the end - though I doubt many of them will be looking to repeat the experience any time soon! As one contestant said, the secret to extreme burrito eating is to just "forget about breathing!"
Culture, Colour, and Costumes.
Fiesta London is much more than an opportunity for food and fun. This is a time when then entire community comes together to celebrate diversity, culture, and heritage And the festival's main stage held wonderful demonstrations of that spirit, especially through music, dance, and drama.
What I loved most about the performances was the incredible energy that everyone brought to the stage. I was getting tired just watching the dancers! They displayed such amazing enthusiasm and their legs were an absolute blur of movement!
The dance movements weren't the only thing catching my eye. The colors and textures of the traditional costumes were stunning to watch and every now and then we'd see someone in the audience dancing along at the sidelines - the high spirits were certainly contagious!
The main stage also featured a host of musicians and dancers, some very traditional, with ties to different regions of Mexico and Latin America, but others less so - like Mickey, Minnie, Dora, and Sponge Bob! While they may not fall under the category of traditional fiesta entertainment, they were definitely popular with the kids!
London has been high on our radar this year, and for good reason. The city has great food, a good selection of accommodations, and a vibrant, revitalized downtown. We've never been disappointed with any of our travel experiences there and Fiesta London was our most exciting one yet. The celebrations take place every June, but if you can't make it in the summer, the city is great to visit year round.
We want to hear from you! What's your spiciest travel destination?
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Where we stay in London: Hotel Metro
What we visit: Banting House National Historic Site
Where we find great grub: Covent Garden Farmers' Market
Our visit to London was facilitated in part by Downtown London and we thank them for their support.