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The Five-Point Weekend Escape Plan

Get Cultured in Guadalajara

3. What to Do

Primer Piso, an intimate jazz club in the artsy Colonia Americana neighborhood.  

Take in an expertly selected variety of flicks at the 30th annual Guadalajara International Film Festival (March 6-15). A retrospective of Oscar-winning director Bernardo Bertolucci’s work anchors this year’s special focus on Italian cinema. Don’t miss the contenders for the Mezcal prize for best Mexican film, including El Aula Vacía with Gael García Bernal, and the Premio Maguey for international flicks, including Mondo Homo 2, a documentary about French gay porn in the 1970s. If you’re bookish, clear your calendar for the Feria Internacional del Libro (International Book Fair) (Nov. 28–Dec. 6). Considered the Spanish-speaking world’s most important literary event, it attracts some 2,000 publishers from nearly 50 countries plus 2015’s spotlight nation, the U.K.

Visit the small but mighty MAZ (Museo de Arte Zapopan), a contemporary art museum that’s been staging provocative exhibitions, performances. and film screenings since it opened in 2002 in the charming, villagelike downtown of the Zapopan neighborhood. Catch the ambitious group exhibition Testigo del Siglo (Witness of the Century) until April 26, with installations, sculptures, and photographs by more than 20 international artists meditating on the theme of global warming and environmental destruction. Head for the upstairs gallery, which functions as an open studio for emerging local artists, to see Zea Mays, Gabriel Rico, and Luis Alfonso Villalobos’s installation aimed at preserving the cultural legacy of Mexican corn (March 5–July 12).

After dark, hang with Guadalajara’s artsy crowd in the hip Colonia Americana neighborhood. Start with live jazz at Primer Piso (947 Pedro Moreno), hidden on the second floor of what looks like a boring office building, then move on to divey Grillo (215 Chapultepec), where the walls are plastered with stickers, the speakers are loud, and the menu of Mexican craft beers is long and varied (ever had a Scotch Ale from Tlalnepantla?). Wind up, like everybody does, at Mezcalería Pare de Sufrir (66 Argentina), a campily decorated bar whose name means “stop suffering" (it’s a cheeky homage to an inscription on a nearby church). Order a mezcal that’s older than the hipster next to you—try the 35-year-aged Tepextate ($7.50)—while D.J.'s spin electro-cumbia and techno-tropicalia.

Published on Feb 19, 2015 as a web exclusive.