San Miguel’s world-famous Instituto Allende, housed within a former colonial convent, has been teaching Spanish to gringos for over half a century.
Today it offers year-round, four-week programs in all levels of Spanish, taught in sessions ranging from 50 minutes to two or four hours.
Besides Spanish classes, the Institute is renowned for its art workshops lasting one, two, and three weeks, covering painting, drawing, sculpture, jewelry making, weaving, restoration, and photography; instituto-allende.edu.mx.
To keep up with the numerous cultural events (frequently in English) taking place in this city, La Biblioteca (Insurgentes 25), offers information on and tickets to lectures, house tours, concerts, and theatrical productions, many of which are held within the historic library building itself.
The library’s jungly outdoor Café Santa Ana, with tables clustered around a central fountain, is a pleasant place for a snack or light meal; it’s open from 8:30 a.m. –8:00 p.m. weekdays, 9:00 a.m.–2:00 p.m., weekends; bibliotecasma.com.
Art and Cinema
Known for its many resident artists, San Miguel, not surprisingly, abounds with galleries. Some of the best can be found, about a fifteen-minute walk from the center of town, at Fábrica La Aurora, a former textile mill, which has been restored and turned into a vast art and design center housing some 60 establishments.
Don’t miss acclaimed self-taught Mexican artist Juan Ezcurdia’s studio, where you will see him at work when he’s in town. Also check out the still lifes of James Harvey, and Elena Brown Guiness’s collection of important contemporary Latin American works.
Besides art, the Fabrica showcases antiques, home furnishings, and jewelry; fabricalaaurora.com. For movie buffs, San Miguel is the place to be from July 22–31, when the town cohosts, along with state capital Guanajuato, the Guanajuato International Film Festival.
Focusing on shorts, documentaries, and, this year, a tribute to the emerging Korean film industry, this festival offers lots of surprises—from films projected on the main Jardin square to horror films screened in the city’s graveyard. Even better, all the movies are free;guanajuatofilmfestival.com.