monterrey mexico

Beyond Wonderland Monterrey is a one-day, multi-stage Alice in Wonderland-themed extravaganza. (Photo: Marc van der Aa)

Culture + Style

Why Monterrey is the Perfect Mexican Destination for Music Lovers

There’s a lot for music mad travelers to love about Mexico, a country known for everything from powerful mariachi performances to the inescapably catchy sound of cumbia sonidera.

But for live music and festival fans, Monterrey is perhaps the country’s ultimate music lover’s destination. Despite often being overlooked for flavor-of-the-month Mexico City’s musical offerings, the mountain-ringed capital of Nuevo León is actually home to several big-name festivals and stellar live music venues.

Whether you want to catch performances by well-known national bands, local up-and-comers, or chart-topping international artists, here are eight of the best Monterrey music festivals and destinations you should keep in mind.

Beyond Wonderland

Spring also sees the arrival of Beyond Wonderland, the festival best associated with the west coast of the US, which has, in recent years, expanded its reach into Monterrey.

Organized by the same team behind the Electric Daisy Carnival—Insomniac Events—Beyond Wonderland Monterrey is a one-day, multi-stage Alice in Wonderland-themed extravaganza of electronic dance music, interactive exhibits, technology, and multicolored light shows.

Past lineups have featured Martin Garrix, Above & Beyond, Alesso, and more.

Pa’l Norte

monterrey mexico music
Pa’l Norte takes over Parque Fundidora for a weekend every spring. (Photo: Lauren Sarah Cocking)

Perhaps the biggest—and arguably the best—of Monterrey’s many music festivals, the Tecate-sponsored Pa’l Norte takes over Parque Fundidora for a full weekend every spring.

Since 2012, Pa’l Norte has made a name for itself by uniting international megastars, Latin American favorites, and emerging artists on the same stellar festival lineup, including acts like the Arctic Monkeys, M.I.A, Carlos Santana, and Café Tacuba.

And when you tire of stage-hopping, you can retire to the games zone, browse local products, or grab lunch from a food truck.

Hellow Fest

Hellow Fest is Monterrey’s first and longest-running music festival, which now takes place on one Saturday every August in Parque Fundidora.

Set against the dramatic backdrop of Monterrey’s mountains, Hellow Fest typically features a genre-spanning roster of acts, meaning there’s a bit of something for everyone: J Balvin, Maroon 5, Tyler, The Creator, Kendrick Lamar, and Steve Aoki have made appearances in recent years.

However, electronic fans in particular will enjoy the festival-within-a-festival vibe of the EDM Village.

Machaca Fest

monterrey mexico music
These days Machaca Fest includes diverse cross-genre Mexican and Latin American performers, like Alejandra Guzmán. (Photo: Getty Images)

Summer in Monterrey sees the arrival of Machaca Fest, a lesser-known music festival officially established in 2011 and held in Parque Fundidora since 2013.

While Machaca Fest grew out of Monterrey’s Spanish-language rock scene, these days the diverse lineups typically feature cross-genre Mexican groups like El Gran Silencio, Zoé, Moenia, as well as musicians from wider Latin America, such as Bad Bunny and J Balvin.

If you’re looking for a more local music festival experience in Monterrey, Machaca Fest might just be the one for you.

WiSH Outdoor

Moving away from the wide-ranging appeal of the four aforementioned festivals, there’s one genre the Monterrey music scene does especially well: EDM.

Each spring, WiSH Outdoor—the Mexican branch of the Dutch festival of the same name—welcomes big-name DJs like Armin Van Buuren, David Guetta, and Marshmello for a full day of strobe light-flashing, baseline-pumping dance music and more.

Arena Monterrey

monterrey mexico music
Enjoy concerts from a diverse roster of performers at Arena Monterrey. (Photo: Getty Images)

If festivals aren’t your thing when it comes to live music though, you can enjoy concerts from a diverse roster of performers—including Carlos Rivera, Katy Perry, and The Killers—at the almost 18,000 person capacity Arena Monterrey, also situated in Parque Fundidora.

Live Out

As temperatures (slightly) dip when Mexico moves into fall, Live Out brings the musical heat back to Parque Fundidora in Monterrey each October.

With lineups that effortlessly combine understated indie artists with mainstream chart-toppers—such as Beck, Vampire Weekend, and The Kooks—Live Out is the stand-out, stand-alone international act-only festival in Monterrey, perfect for travelers who aren’t quite sold on Spanish-language music.

Café Iguana

Meanwhile, ska, reggae, rock, and alternative music fans should head to Café Iguana on Thursday nights. This iconic live music venue, with four different stages and beer sold by the caguama, has called the recently-revamped Barrio Antiguo home since 1991.

Since then, it’s hosted more than 3,000 local and international bands, including Anthrax, Zoé, Kinky, Plastilina Mosh, Cradle of Filth, and Los Caligaris.

And don’t leave Iguanas, as it’s known colloquially, without trying the by-the-slice pizza served onsite.