Please join Laura Holson, founder of The Box Sessions and an award-winning writer for the New York Times, for a creativity workshop from February 4-10, 2024 in the picturesque town of San Miguel de Allende.
Everyone is creative, even if they don’t know it. In San Miguel de Allende, you will visit artists’ studios, explore rural villages, see architectural treasures and enjoy archaeological sites. You will visit the famed potters’ workshops of Dolores Hidalgo and the childhood home of the muralist and painter Diego Rivera. You will study the creative process and learn to apply these lessons to your own artistic process and personal growth.
The Box Sessions Abroad is coordinated through Academic Travel Abroad. Travel details and sign up coming soon.
- Enjoy exclusive access to artists, factories and galleries, and hands-on workshops by local experts in painting, photography and cooking.
- Participate in daily discussions with Laura Holson about how to build a creative daily practice and supportive community at home.
- Explore the brightly colored central squares and picturesque cobblestone streets of the UNESCO World Heritage cities of San Miguel de Allende and Guanajuato.
- Experience daily life with members of a rug hooking women’s cooperative in a rural village in the central Mexican highlands.
- Cultivate your creativity with an expert photography workshop, and then practice your skills as you capture memories from your journey.
- Take a three-hour workshop with a local artist and create a souvenir of your journey.
February 4-10, 2024
7 Days, 6 Nights
$5295 double occupancy
$6790 single occupancy
Itinerary By Day
DAY 1 – Welcome to Mexico
Arrive at Mexico City International Airport and join your fellow travelers. Transfer as a group to the colonial World Heritage city of San Miguel de Allende. After settling into your hacienda, toast the start of your journey with a welcome reception. Then, enjoy live mariachi music and panoramic views of the city from the terrace of Antonia Bistro over a celebratory welcome dinner.
Meals: L, D
DAY 2 – Historical San Miguel and Cooking for Life
Take a walking tour of the colorful historic center of San Miguel de Allende. The city, about 6,200 feet above sea level, was established by the Spanish in the 16th century on the site of an indigenous settlement. Learn how San Miguel has long inspired artists as you explore its cobbled streets, museums, churches and galleries. Marvel at the striking turreted pink facade of the pink church, the Parish of San Miguel Arcangel, and observe lessons at the art school, which was constructed in 1755 and is itself a work of art. After a group lunch at a local Mexican restaurant, join the owner of the Mask Museum, to tour an extraordinary collection of over 500 Mexican ceremonial masks, which have been used in indigenous ceremonies across the country. Tonight, explore creative and healthful cuisine in a cooking class, learning skills that you can take from San Miguel to spice up dinners in your own kitchen.
Meals: B, L, D
DAY 3 – Rural Highlands and Capturing Memories
Experience life in a rural village in the central Mexican highlands with members of a rug-hooking women’s cooperative. Together, you will help prepare a traditional lunch, learn about traditional herbal remedies, and view demonstrations of local rug-hooking and stone-carving techniques. After returning to San Miguel, take a three-hour photography journey with a professional photographer, who will share techniques to enhance your photos, even without specialized equipment. Join your photographer to capture memories of your experience in the late afternoon light in the colorful streets of San Miguel. Dinner is on your own this evening.
Meals: B, L
DAY 4 – Pottery and Tiles
Take a short drive to the town of Dolores Hidalgo, known as the birthplace of Mexican Independence, for a guided half-day tour of the area’s churches and workshops. Visit a workshop to observe the local techniques for making pottery and ceramic tiles in the Talavera tradition. Take time to enjoy the town square on your own, stopping at street vendors for the city’s famous ice cream, with unusual flavors like avocado, tequila and shrimp. On the return drive to San Miguel, stop by the Atotonilco, a UNESCO World Heritage site that has been called the Sistine Chapel of Mexico because of the striking Mexican Baroque mural work that adorns its walls and ceiling. This evening, wander the charming and colorful streets of San Miguel on your own for dinner.
DAY 5 – Silver and Diego Rivera
Today, take a full-day tour of the UNESCO World Heritage City of Guanajuato, the epicenter of Mexican silver mining. Its location in a narrow valley accounts for its winding, narrow streets. Guanajuato is home to a major arts festival that draws people from around the world. Your local anthropologist guide will bring you through the childhood home of the muralist and painter Diego Rivera, now a museum. Visit a pottery factory and explore a market designed by Gustave Eiffel, whose global contributions include the Eiffel Tower and the Statue of Liberty. Explore the town’s winding streets and subterranean passageways on your own before returning to San Miguel in the afternoon.
DAY 6 – From Observer to Artist: An Explosion of Creativity and Color
Walk through the art district of Guadalupe, with its festive murals and colorful wall art. Move from observer to student and artist at the Fábrica La Aurora, a textile factory that has been converted into an art gallery and studio for more than 50 artists. A local artist will lead you in a three-hour intensive workshop, where you can produce your own works of art. Laura Holson, will also lead discussions with the local gallerists about their portfolios. Following lunch at a local restaurant, take a short drive to the Chapel of Jimmy Ray, where the artist and owner, Anado McLauchlin, will lead you through the volcanic eruption of mosaics that adorn the furniture, jewelry and walls of the house itself. Tonight, enjoy a final festive dinner with live music from an estudiantina at Áperi featuring food for the five senses using local ingredients.
Meals: B, L, D
DAY 7 – Homeward Bound
Say farewell to the charming and colorful cobblestoned streets of San Miguel de Allende before a group transfer to the Mexico City International Airport and your homeward flights.
Located in the heart of San Miguel de Allende, this charming boutique hotel has been named one of the top 10 hotels in Mexico by readers of Condé Nast Traveler and is just footsteps from San Miguel’s historic center. Free bicycles are available to guests to explore the city. The hacienda is a former convent and retains a central patio, which is perfect for gathering, along with scattered gardens and terraces throughout the property. A rooftop garden provides produce that is used on site. Spacious rooms feature colonial Mexican-style décor, a cozy seating area, complimentary WiFi, and air conditioning.
Laura Holson is an award-winning writer and visual journalist for The New York Times who writes narrative features and personality profiles. She is the founder of The Box Sessions, a series of festivals and gatherings organized by Sant Epernay, LLC, which celebrate and cultivate personal creativity in writing, film making, drawing and music. For more than two decades at the Times, Holson has chronicled the intersection of celebrity and power in Silicon Valley, Hollywood and New York. She has been studying and writing about creativity for a decade. Holson has an undergraduate degree in art history from the University of California in Santa Barbara and a masters in journalism from the University of Missouri in Columbia. She is a global traveler, photographer and letterpress printer. She is writing a book about the artistic self.
What is Included
- Accommodations and meals as outlined in the itinerary
- Comprehensive educational program by content experts and professional on-site guides
- Ground transportation within the itinerary unless otherwise indicated
- Sightseeing as specified in the itinerary
- Entrance fees
- Gratuities to porters, drivers, and guides
- Group transfer to and from airports for those arriving or departing according to the designated itinerary
- Baggage handling for one checked piece and one carry on piece per person
- The assistance of an ATA trip manager for comprehensive logistical and customer service management on the trip
- The assistance of an ATA professional travel team to assist with pre-trip questions, travel arrangements, including flights, extra hotel nights, or other services.
- Comprehensive pre-departure information about the destination and what to expect on the trip, including a suggested reading list
- Quietvox listening devices for all participants
- Emergency evacuation insurance
- Fully vetted program that meets COVID-19 health and safety protocols
What COVID-19 protocols do you have in place?
The safety and security of our travelers and tour staff are of the utmost importance. We have developed extensive policies and procedures for traveling during the pandemic in accordance with the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) Safe Travels protocols. We continue to monitor developments regarding COVID-19, using many information sources. All trip participants (including staff) 5 years and older must show proof of being up-to-date with COVID-19 vaccinations (including boosters, if eligible) at least 14 days prior to the start of the trip. Everyone will be asked to wear face coverings in enclosed/indoor spaces in accordance with local regulations. Motorcoaches will be cleaned nightly, and all restaurants and sites will be screened to ensure that rigorous health and safety protocols are being followed.
Are you able to accommodate dietary restrictions and allergies?
Every effort will be made to try to accommodate any special dietary requests you may have (e.g., low salt, vegetarian, or vegan). Please discuss your requests with us when signing up for a trip.
How big will your group be?
Our trips have a maximum group size of 25 people. They are large enough to meet new people with diverse backgrounds, but small enough to be on a first-name basis with everyone.
Are solo travelers welcome?
Yes, absolutely! There are always a good number of solo travelers on our trips, and they are welcomed with open arms. Group meals generally take place at medium to large tables, and our Tour Managers ensure that everyone is included in conversation. Because our trips are priced for doubles sharing a room, there is a supplemental cost for those who choose not to share.
What are the physical requirements of this trip?
Travelers should be in good health and able to walk up to 2 miles (with stops) over uneven terrain and be able to navigate stairs unassisted. In city centers, we do try to walk from place to place due to traffic restrictions, and also in keeping with our commitment to environmental sustainability.
How much free time should I expect to have?
Our trips are designed to give our travelers special insight and understanding of the places we visit. The talks and commentary by our hosts and local guides are what make our itineraries special, and this kind of curated experience cannot be obtained on one’s own. For this reason, our trips generally do not incorporate long periods of free time during the day, although night times and some meals will be at leisure.
Can I arrive early, or stay on after the tour ends?
Yes, absolutely! If you wish to extend your time, however, please know that our last hotel is quite a distance (about 3 ½ hours) from the airport. We would therefore suggest that you transfer to Mexico City together with the group and continue your independent exploration from there. Guest Services Advisors will be happy to facilitate the reservation of extra nights on the front end of the trip. Additional nights will be added to your final invoice and will be subject to the same Terms and Conditions of your main program.
What do I need to bring on my trip?
We’ll send you a detailed clothing and equipment list well before departure so you know what you’ll need. We provide the rest: comfortable accommodations, an engaging daily itinerary, expert trip management and access to people and places that will thrill and delight you.
Once I reserve my trip, what happens next?
After you reserve your trip and pay your deposit, you will be sent detailed information about your itinerary and destination, insurance information, a Participant Information Form, a packing list, and other information needed to prepare for your trip. Your Guest Services Advisor will reach out when it’s time to book airfare after a minimum of 10 travelers have enrolled on your departure. Final trip details will be sent roughly 2-3 weeks before departure. We will also hold a virtual pre-departure meeting to review arrival procedures and health & safety protocols about ten days before you depart.
Are tips included?
Yes! Tips to local guides, restaurant staff, bell staff and drivers are all included in the trip price. Your Trip Expert and Tour Manager however, will not accept tips. The only time tips are not included is during free time and meals on your own.
Are drinks included?
All drinks (wine and soft drinks) are included in the trip price for all group dinners. Non-alcoholic beverages are included for group lunches. Any additional alcoholic beverages are not included in the program price.
What about airfare?
Airfare to and from the starting and ending point of the program is not included in the price in order to give you maximum flexibility in choosing your preferences for air travel. This way you can use frequent flier upgrades, depart from your airport of choice, or add pre- and post-trip extensions with no constraints. Please refrain from booking your airfare until your Guest Services Advisor reaches out to confirm your departure.
What is your cancellation policy?
We currently have a flexible booking policy in place that allows you to cancel and receive a full refund up to 60 days prior to your scheduled departure. As always, you have the option to transfer your full deposit to a new departure. There is no refund for cancellations within 60 days of departure.
Do I need trip insurance?
We strongly suggest purchasing travel insurance to help protect your investment and provide you with financial recourse should you face trip cancellation or interruption due to sickness or quarantine. When purchasing a policy, please consult with a trip insurance agent to review what COVID-19- related contingencies are covered. While ATA and The Box Sessions will do their best to recover any unused portion of your trip due to sickness, it is often the case that payments cannot be refunded. We recommend using our partner insurance provider, Travel Insurance Services, which offers three different policies for you to choose from.