There is something special about the ex-pat community in San Miguel de Allende. The people who move to San Miguel just seem to be MORE… more curious, more creative, more adventurous. More full of “juice.” Whether still working or retired, they want to know and learn and experience as much as they can in this magical place.
People have been coming to San Miguel to study for more than 75 years, heading to the Art Schools at Bellas Artes or the Instituto Allende. Shortly after World War II, recently returned American GIs poured into town to use their GI Benefits to pay for studying here. Once that flood of interested and interesting people started, it never really stopped.
San Miguel has been known as an artists’ and writers’ colony ever since. That artistic and intellectual vibe continues today. Not only is San Miguel historic and beautiful and full of energy, it’s also chock-full of opportunities for lifelong learning at every level. You can learn a skill, grow a talent, polish up your language abilities, or develop almost any interest in classes designed for self-enrichment, intellectual stimulation or just plain fun.
Do you want to learn to speak Spanish? You could hardly find a better place with more good teachers and excellent courses.
Want to learn to cook Mexican and international dishes? There are several cooking schools eager to help you.
Are you a budding artist or want to brush up on an old skill from long ago? You’ll find classes and workshops in drawing and painting in every medium, ceramics, jewelry-making, weaving, collage, assemblage and mixed media art, and more.
Are you looking to chill out with meditation and yoga? There’s a class for that (a lot of them, in fact).
Whether you’re thinking of moving to San Miguel de Allende full-time, want to buy a property to live in seasonally, or want to spend your weekends here, there are classes, workshops and one-on-one instruction that will fit your needs and your schedule.
Many are bi-lingual, available both in English and Spanish.
How to Find Workshops and Classes in San Miguel de Allende
Once you’ve decided what you want to study in San Miguel, pick up a copy of Atención San Miguel, the weekly newspaper published by the Biblioteca Publica/Public Library. In the center pull-out section, “Que Pasa,” you’ll find many classes, workshops, lectures, and other learning activities listed.
Next, keep your eyes open for notices on bulletin boards around town, such as in the passage from Hernandez Macias, in front of Bellas Artes, to Calle Canal, or at Juan’s Café on Calle Reloj, opposite the library. If you go into a gallery and see art work you particularly love, ask the owner if the artist gives workshops.
There’s a good chance the answer is yes, and you’ll get a contact number or email.
Finally, the absolute best way to find the kind of class you want is to just ask everyone you meet.
People in San Miguel love sharing that kind of information. San Miguel, and especially the ex-pat community—is fluid, and classes change. Some are only seasonal; others happen year-round.
If you do an online search for “Classes in San Miguel de Allende”, you’ll get some good recommendations, but it’s important to check the dates. Some of the sites—and classes—you find will be out-of-date.
Let’s take a closer look at a small slice of the wide range of things you can learn to do in San Miguel de Allende.
Spanish Classes in San Miguel de Allende
Perhaps the easiest courses to find in San Miguel are Spanish classes. And why not? It’s natural when moving to another country to at least try to learn a bit of the local language. And your experience of living in Mexico will be magnified beyond imaging once you can communicate with locals.
Even if all you learn to do is speak to your housekeeper, chat with the local store owner about the avocados, or ask your car mechanic to change your oil and please check the fans and belts, having some Spanish is a clear advantage when living in or visiting Mexico.
Once you’ve acquired even minimal skill with the language, stop by the Biblioteca on Tuesday and Thursday afternoons at 5pm for “Conversations with Friends.” Mexican and English-speakers pair up for practice conversations to improve their language skills. Sessions are free.
Here are some other recommended venues for learning Spanish as a second language:
Warren Hardy Spanish School. Warren has created a system of learning specifically geared to English-speaking adults. His classes are relaxed, stress-free and fun. And you’ll be speaking in full sentences after just a couple of classes. This is probably the most popular Spanish school in town with ex-pats and visitors. More info: https://warrenhardy.com/
The Centro Mexicana de Lengua y Cultura, more commonly known to foreigners as Josefina’s School, offers classes and one-on-one immersion in Spanish language and culture for both adults and children. Your course of study is designed specifically to match your language level and what you want to learn. You can also study French or Italian here. More info: http://www.josefinaschool.com/
AHA! Spanish-the Academia Hispano Americana, has been in business almost 60 years and was the first Spanish language school in San Miguel de Allende. It offers immersion programs with an interactive program where everything is said and done in Spanish. Course include not only the language but cultural activities that are both fun and instructive. More info: https://www.academiahispanoamericana.com/
Craft & Art Classes and Workshops in San Miguel
Art is everywhere in San Miguel. With well over 100 art galleries in this town, art is part of the fabric of the town itself, as much as the cobblestones and the ringing of church bells. Many of the artists represented in those galleries give workshops and classes in their craft.
Whether you want to paint abstracts in oils, acrylic portraits or watercolor scenes, work in collage, learn to bind hand-made books, throw pottery, weave textiles, craft fine silver jewelry, paint with encaustic, sculpt in clay or stone, or take better pictures with your phone or camera….
You’ll find a class or workshop in San Miguel to take your artistic spirit wherever it wants to go.
The Instituto Allende
Is one of the oldest art schools in San Miguel. It offers a great many courses in all kinds of arts and crafts. The property is exquisite, as the school is housed in what was the country hacienda of the Counts of Canal, built in the 18th century. But don’t let that “country” term worry you. It’s only a 10-12 minute walk from the central Jardín. More info: http://instituto-allende.edu.mx/en/
Galería San Francisco
With studios overlooking the Jardín, offers various workshops in painting and photography by artists from the gallery. Jane Dill’s classes in collage, calligraphy and abstract textures are unique and fun. Isis Rodriguez offers classes in Life Drawing and Oil Portraits. Other offerings might include watercolor or acrylic painting and street photography. More info: https://www.galeriasanfrancisco.com/art-workshops-1/#
It offers a variety of painting classes, including their very popular “One Painting in One Day,” suitable for people at any level of experience, including none whatsoever. It might just be the perfect introduction to a new pastime, and you’ll find yourself buying paints and brushes and canvas on the way home. More info: http://www.cristiferart.com/
Cooking Classes in San Miguel de Allende
There is wonderful, fresh food available in San Miguel, including many organic options and artisanal food products. Learning to prepare some of it yourself is fun. The town offers several cooking schools, including classes that combine shopping in the markets with preparing and then eating traditional Mexican dishes. Here are just a few of the local cooking classes you might want to try in San Miguel de Allende.
Is the cooking school of long-time ex-pat Kris Rudolph, who has also had her own restaurant in San Miguel, El Buen Café, for almost 25 years. She offers hands-on classes and demonstrations in her pretty teaching kitchen followed by a meal of your creations in her own dining room. More info: http://www.deliciousexpeditions.com/classes-san-miguel.html
Is the owner chef and baker at the popular San Miguel café El Petit Four. His star class option is a six-hour day of food. It begins with a trip to the local mercado, where Paco knows all the vendors and explains everything you’re seeing and buying. Then it’s back to his home kitchen to use what you bought, then end with a splendid meal you just helped to prepare. More info: http://www.elpetitfour.com/classes.html
Marilau Mexican Ancestry Cooking School
Is where Maria Laura Ricaud showcases her Mexican heritage and her deep love and respect for her ancestral food and styles of cooking. Learn to make tortillas from scratch, experiment with different chiles, discover the subtlety of traditional Mexican herbs and spices. And follow it up with a delicious lunch you cooked yourself. More info: http://mexican-cooking-school.com/
Yoga and Meditation Classes
There are way too many yoga, meditation and related classes to list. You’ll find Ayengar, Vinyasa, Ashtanga, Hatha as well as Flow Yoga, Gentle Yoga and Hot Yoga, and more. There’s sound meditation, zazen, guided and unguided, non-dual meditation. Your best bet is to check Atención’s “Que Pasa” for instructors, locations and times. A few suggestions:
Here you’ll find classes in different types of yoga and meditation, Tai Chi, Qi Gong, Enneagram and more. More info: http://lifepathretreats.com/
The Meditation Center of San Miguel
Is a space for individual meditation with sessions offered almost daily. It centers on Buddhist-oriented Zazen. Instruction is available for new meditators. More info: https://meditationsma.org/
This incomplete list of opportunities for learning, expanding, and exploring yourself, your mind and your talents in San Miguel de Allende can barely scratch the surface of the mountain of classes and workshops available in this vibrant town full of inquisitive, adventurous people.
And new offerings are being offered all the time.
San Miguel has been a place for growing and learning for many decades. She shows no sign of slowing down on that front any time soon.