Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso

The border town of Nuevo Progreso, Mexico, honors tourists twice each year. Why? Simply put, tourists are essential to the economy. Early in December, usually on a Friday, they host Welcome Back Winter Texans. On March 21st, regardless of the day of the week it falls on, they host another big celebration for Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso. Many winter Texans wait until after this event to return to their homes in northern locations.

Street scenes in Nuevo Progreso on Tourist DayWhen I moved to the Rio Grande Valley the end of 2018, one of the things I really wanted to do was visit Nuevo Progreso. I was excited to make my first Progreso – Nuevo Progreso International Bridge crossing early in 2019. My friend Linda and I had a great time and I’ve been back many times since.

I had heard about these special tourist days and planned to attend one to see what they are like. I didn’t make it to the 2019 events and then, well, you know what happened. The events were not held in 2020 or 2021.

The Big Question – Would Tourist Day be held in 2022?

I found it a bit difficult to get information about Nuevo Progreso and if Tourist Day and Welcome Back Winter Texans would be held this year. Finally, I came across two very helpful Facebook pages: Nuevo Progreso, Mexico and Progreso International Bridge. I saw people asking about Tourist Day on the Nuevo Progreso page but not getting a very definite answer. Finally I saw this on the International Bridge page:

Flyer for Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso

What is it Like on Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso?

Entering Mexico

Even though I read that people start arriving by 8:00 am, I decided not to go any earlier than I usually do. I normally arrive around 9:30 and I felt that was early enough. I reasoned that it might not be as busy as past years since many winter Texans still are not traveling.

When you arrive at the border, there is a parking lot on each side of the street. The one on the left side is not often open but it was on Tourist Day. The line to enter the parking lots were relatively short and we were in in just a matter of minutes. Parking is $2 for all day.

It’s just a short walk from the parking lots over the international bridge to Avenida Benito Juarez, the main street through Nuevo Progreso. Be prepared to pay your $1 toll to cross the bridge.

Fun fact: The Progreso – Nuevo Progreso International Bridge is one of only two privately owned international bridges in Texas. All others are government owned.

Entering Nuevo Progreso

You can see that even at 9:30 am there wasn’t much of a line

The Tourist Day Festivities in Nuevo Progreso

The main street was blocked off to vehicle traffic. A large tent with a stage stretched across the street and had seating for quite a few people. Even though the event didn’t officially start until 10 am, the music was already booming and there were performers on the stage.

Tent and seating at Tourist Day

As we moved down the street from one section to the next, different music drowned out the last. More performers entertained the visitors.

Street performers in Nuevo Progreso on Tourist Day

There was even some special entertainment for kids.

Children's entertainment in Nuevo Progreso on Tourist Day

There are always a lot of vendors lining the sidewalks but it seemed like there were even more for Tourist Day.

Looking through vendor stand to street scene on Tourist Day in Nuevo ProgresoNuevo Progreso street scene on Tourist Day

As time went on, the number of people continued to increase but it never felt uncomfortably crowded, even for this somewhat claustrophobic senior!

Street scene in Nuevo Progreso on Tourist Day

Lots of merchants were handing out free food. Sodas and water were also available for free. You could walk down the street with a cocktail or beer in hand that you purchased at one of the street bars.

I held out though, since we planned to eat lunch at Chuy’s Red Snapper. We eat fairly early so the restaurant was not crowded when we arrived but it was packed when we left.

Chuy's Red Snapper on Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso

Leaving the Event

I try to leave Nuevo Progreso in the early to mid-afternoon as the line at the border tends to be shorter then. The pedestrian toll when you are exiting is $.25 so have your quarter ready to pop in the slot on the turnstile. If you purchased any alcohol or cigarettes, the booth to pay your taxes is the last stop outside the US Customs building.

My Final Thoughts on Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso

If you enjoy spending a day outdoors, listening to loud music, watching a myriad of performers, eating good food, shopping and learning about another culture, you will surely enjoy Tourist Day in Nuevo Progreso. If you missed it, try Welcome Back Winter Texans in December. And whether there is an event going on or not, Nuevo Progreso is a fun place to visit.

Whether there is an event going on or not, Nuevo Progreso is a fun place to visit. Share on X

Until next time…

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