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15 Best Carnivals in Mexico

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Mexico is known for having world-renowned carnivals. Although some carnival festivals have been influenced by international elements, such as the carnivals of Rio de Janeiro, carnival festivals in the country have remained authentic to the culture, traditions and identity characteristics of the citizens. Mexico has a varied range of carnivals, some of these being influenced by historical facts, others by religious writings and many others for popular amusement.

We accompany you to discover the 15 best carnivals in all of Mexico.

 

15. San Juan Chamula Carnival

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The town of San Juan Chamula, located in Chiapas, has one of the most interesting carnivals in the whole country. This carnival takes as its principle the manuscript of the K’iche’ people and the Maya people where regulations or life advice are indicated, including way of life, natural events, festivals and other aspects that build a society. In addition, carnival also takes as reference types of dress, characters, dances and rituals that are performed during the carnival period.

 

The Carnival of San Juan Chamula is a religious and cultural demonstration

The Carnival of San Juan Chamula is a religious and cultural demonstration

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The Carnival of San Juan Chamula, also known as K’in Tajimoltic, is one of the most important celebrations of the entire region, since it is the original representation of the Mayan culture and religion. The celebration of the carnival is the perfect time to reconnect with their roots, celebrate drinking pox and visit several natural areas of great importance to its people. The carnival integrates a large number of rituals where dancing and chanting predominate. During the last days of celebration, people perform various rituals of walking over embers and bull chasing.

 

 

The Carnival of San Juan Chamula takes place during the 5 days of festivities stipulated in the Popol Vuh, taking place 4 days before Ash Wednesday.

 

 

14. Pinotepa de Don Luis Carnival

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The town of Pinotepa de Don Luis in Oaxaca boasts one of the most expressive and musical carnivals in the country. It is not known in detail how or when the carnivals of Pinotepa de Don Luis came about. However, it is known that these carnivals were the result of the mixture of Creole and European traditions, when the latter settled in the area. In addition, it is believed that thecultural manifestations, especially the baile, are the result of expressions of mockery towards the Europeans in the area.

The Carnivals of Pinotepa de Don Luis are mainly celebrated with dances and music. One of the main characters of the festivities is the Tejorones, who performs the well-known Danza de los Tejorones. In addition, the carnival is full of other masks, some take the form of animals such as wolves or birds, while others are simply human personifications. All dance pieces are accompanied by music, especially the Danza de los Tejorones, which is set to music by the same characters with rattles and violin. The carnival parade includes all the masqueritas, as well as the various local personalities and the Carnival Queen.

 

The carnival of Pinotepa de Don Luis is celebrated between the months of February and March, just before Ash Wednesday.

 

 

13. Carnivals of Hidalgo

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Hidalgo is one of the 32 federative entities that make up the Mexican state. In turn, Hidalgo has 84 other municipalities. The Carnivals of Hidalgo are a great conglomerate of celebrations that extend through all these municipalities. Each of them has its own characteristics, masks and even dresses. Although Hidalgo has only 20,813 square kilometers, it has a remarkable geological complexity, so they are also reflected in the traditions and celebrations in each of the areas that compose it.

 

Traditions and characters change from region to region in the Hidalgo Carnival

Traditions and characters change from region to region in the Hidalgo Carnival

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Although most municipalities celebrate carnivals during the dates, there are some localities that celebrate with much more animosity, such as Huasca de Ocampo, Calnali and Metztitlán, just to name a few. In addition, the carnival has a good number of characteristic characters and some of them also change from region to region. Some of these characters are the cuernudos, the huehues and the panaderos. However, you can also find modern costumes such as fairies, transvestites, historical characters or superheroes..

Like many other carnivals in the country, the Carnivals of Hidalgo are celebrated between the months of February and March, before Ash Wednesday. However, it will be carried out in order to minimize the spread of Covid19.

 

 

12. Carnival of La Paz

La Paz is the capital of the state of Baja California Sur in western Mexico. The La Paz Carnival is one of the most fun and joyful festivals in the region. Each year, the carnival organization incorporates a new theme, which accompanies various aspects of the festivities such as decorations, floats and costumes. In addition, from start to finish there is first-class entertainment from the various national artists who will enliven the party.

 

Everybody takes to the streets to participate in the Carnival of La Paz

Everybody takes to the streets to participate in the Carnival of La Paz

 

Due to the geographical location of the city, the carnival festivities in La Paz become a true spectacle right by the sea. The festivities in the capital of Baja California del Sur are well known for the musical entertainment they offer. In addition, the carnival has other particular elements typical of Mexican carnivals. In the event you can find the typical Burning of the bad mood, a ceremony that serves as a catharsis of the population, floral games, parades and the Burial of Juan Carnival. The parades are the elements that stand out in the festivities, accompanied by groupings, dances, parades and an incredible view of the sea from the boardwalk.

 

The Carnivals of La Paz take place between the months of February and March, just before Ash Wednesday.

 

 

11. Autlán bullfighting carnival

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Autlán or Autlán de Navarro is a municipality located in the state of Jalisco. The Autlán Bullfighting Carnival is one of the most anticipated events in the entire municipality. Every year, thousands of tourists come every year to be part of the various activities that take place during the most fun season in the country. In addition to traditional activities such as bullfights and jaripeos, the municipality also offers a great deal of entertainment and other traditional Mexican carnival ceremonies.

 

Autlán Carnival perform various bullfighting events and parades

Autlán Carnival perform various bullfighting events and parades

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One of the most important and popular events ofthe Autlán Bullfighting Carnival is the Callejón de la Alegría. This event is actually a large enclosure that occupies several food and beverage stalls. In addition, it also features the traditional Burning of the Bad Humor, which is the opening ceremony of the festivities. Every year national artists come to entertain the public with great concerts. Finally, the carnival of Autlan also has great parades full of comparsas, dancers and incredible costumes.

The Carnaval Taurino de Autlán is celebrated between the months of February and March.

 

10. Chapala Carnival

Chapala is one of the 125 municipalities that divide the state of Jalisco in western Mexico. Chapala Carnival is one of the happiest in the entire region. Each year, the organizations that carry out the carnival arrange a large number of events and attractions so that locals and visitors can enjoy the festivities from start to finish. During the happiest holiday season in the country, Chapala’s carnivals are packed with colorful and fun celebrations that you definitely won’t want to miss.

 

The Chapala Carnival is a varied and fun event

The Chapala Carnival is a varied and fun event

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In addition to the traditional carnival events, Chapala offers a good amount of events and fantastic attractions that will make you want to come back next year. Among the highlights of the Chapala carnivals are wrestling and cultural events such as theatrical performances and musical shows with bands and singers. In addition, you can never miss the presentations of national artists and the largecolorful parades. The organizers are also responsible for installing a large number of mechanical games and food fairs, where they serve traditional dishes such as the characteristic suckling pig of the area.

The Chapala Carnival takes place during the traditional carnival months; that is, January and February and usually lasts for a week and a half.

 

 

9. Carnival of Huejotzingo

The city of Huejotzingo in the state of Puebla boasts one of the most wonderful carnivals in the entire country and possibly the entire world. Carnivals in the city date back to pre-Hispanic eras, which were related to the agricultural area of the place. However, this particular carnival emerged as an initiative to integrate several historical elements that are part of the state: the Catholic marriage between indigenous people, the robbery of the corregidor’s daughter by Agustín Lorenzo and the Battle of May 5. Los Carnavales de Huejotzingo integrates the different characters who participated in the event. In addition, they recreate several scenes in an impressive way.

 

During carnivals, the various neighborhoods participate in this particular play. Each neighborhood prepares its own battalion, which can number up to 400 people. Then, each person acquires a different historical character among Zapadores, Zacapoaxtlas, Indians, Turks and Zuavos. Each of these characters has different physical characteristics. In addition, each one has a rifle with which they shoot gunpowder to perfectly recreate the historical events. Throughout the scene, several historical pieces are performed accompanied by band music..

 

The Carnival of Huejotzingo is celebrated from approximately February 13 to 16.

 

 

8. Carnaval de Tlaxcala

Tlaxcala is one of the 32 states that make up Mexico, which has another 60 municipalities. The Carnivals of Tlaxcala are the most expressive and culturally diverse in the entire country. The Tlaxcala Carnival has an official record that indicates that the first modern carnivals were first recorded in the year 1699. However, the various cultural expressions have been maintained for several centuries, as they are unique to the state of Tlaxcala and incorporate various historical events and important cultural traits. It is believed that some of the current cultural expressions, especially the dances, are the result of mockery and satirical demonstrations of the French and Spanish who settled in the area. Likewise, many other expressions are rituals of fertility or commemorative dances to the gods.

 

One of the particularities of this carnival is the presence of Camadas or groups and the Huehues, masked characters in colorful costumes. Each Huehue enjoys characteristics specific to the area of its origin and these characteristics can also vary in their dances and appearances. While some huehues feature knife dances and adornos with feathers, others may perform dances of cinta and feature florealadornos. There are currently at least 400 litters distributed throughout the state.

 

Ethe Tlaxcala Carnival is celebrated from approximately Friday, February 12 to Tuesday, February 16.

 

 

7. Cozumel Carnival

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The city of San Miguel de Cozumel in the state of Quintana Roo is the epicenter of one of the most anticipated carnivals in the entire country. The first historical records of the carnival date back to 1873, which indicate that it was a celebration full of music, dances, bets and some parades. However, everything points to the fact that the celebrations were held privately, since the first time a permit was requested for a popular dance was in 1908. The following decades were years of development and proliferation of groups and integration of new and modern elements in the carnival festivities.

 

Cozumel's Carnival is one of the most colorful and fun

Cozumel’s Carnival is one of the most colorful and fun

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Cozumel Carnival has a large number of events that take place over several weeks, which can be clearly divided into pre-Carnival and official Carnival events. The pre-Carnival events mainly include Carnival Kings ceremonies, presentations of candidates and shows. The Official Carnival incorporates two themes: Street Carnival and organized carnival. Street Carnival integrates street parties on the streets mainly during the morning and events outside the official schedule. The organized or formal carnivals are those that integrate the coronation of the candidates, dances, parades and musical presentations.

 

 

6. Ensenada Carnival

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Carnivals are celebrated in the city of Ensenada in Baja California. The first time carnivals were recorded in the city was in the year 1891. For this edition, the carnivals were held in a humble and simple way, since the city still had very few inhabitants, but included parades and musical presentations. During the 19th century, the carnivals acquired a much more organized form. In addition, they began to include elements such as Carnival Queens and masked dances. The Ensenada Carnival has been celebrated continuously since 1950.

 

Ensenada Carnival is a full-color party that includes 3 big parades with the Kings of Carnival

Ensenada Carnival is a full-color party that includes 3 big parades with the Kings of Carnival

 

Ensenada Carnival has a lot of events happening from start to finish. Like many other carnivals in the country, the festivities begin with the traditional burn of the bad mood, a ceremony that functions as a catharsis ritual. In addition, it also has a good amount of sports activities, musical presentations, dances and contests. The main events in the festivities are of course, the parades. These parades feature a large number of themed floats, colorful costumes and hundreds of dancers. The Carnival Kings in all categories make up the parade, entertaining and greeting all the public.

The Ensenada Carnival runs from approximately Thursday, February 11 through Tuesday, February 16.

 

 

5. Carnival of Mérida

Mérida is the capital city of the state of Yucatán, one of the 32 states that make up Mexico. Carnivals in the city of Mérida have been held since 1578, these celebrations being similar to carnivals, although at that time the festivities were held in a primitive form. The carnival began to develop with the arrival of the Spaniards, featuring salon dances. However, the festivities had an important Catholic control, so the festivities did not function as a means of expression for the original population. Nowadays, the carnival has integrated many modern elements, with which it plans to attract much more visitors and acquire great international recognition.

 

Merida Carnival has a deep influence from the original Brazilian carnivals. However, it has Mexican identity characteristics, as well as conventional elements of national carnivals. The burning of the bad mood is the inaugural event of the festivities, functioning as a ceremony of catharsis. In addition, it also features a good number of events such as contests, coronation of Carnival Kings, literature fairs and folklore performances. The events that stand out most in the festivities are the parades, which feature a large number of comparsas and impressive themed floats.

Merida Carnival has been suspended due to the Covid19 pandemic.

 

 

 

4. Carnaval de Morelos

Morelos in one of the 32 states that make up Mexico. The Morelos carnivals feature a large number of cultural elements that change from municipality to municipality. The actual Carnival arrived in the state of Morelos in the 19th century, thanks to the Spanish settlers. During this time, carnivals were celebrated by the city’s elite, the indigenous and criollos were not part of the festivities. However, the natives began to hold their own celebrations in order to mock the colonists. Thus, the costumes that are present at the parties bear some resemblance to the colonists who settled in the area.

The main characters of the carnivals of Morelos are known as Chinelos. These chinelos have characteristics in common in all municipalities, white complexion, beard and elongated hat. Although the original chinelo has a white costume with three blue stripes and a feathered hat, each region has different characteristics, from black costumes, to flowered and sequined patterns. During carnivals, the chinelos perform dances, one of the most characteristic is the “Brinco de Chinelos“, which consists of giving small jumps in group.

 

Morelos Carnivals take place during the traditional carnival months; that is between the months of February and March.

 

 

3. Carnaval de Campeche

Campeche is one of the 32 states that comprise Mexico. The Carnival of Campeche is one of the oldest in the entire country. In addition, they have a large number of events for all the public, since one of its characteristics is that of family carnivals. The first carnival in the state was held in the year 1582, being registered due to an authorization requested to carry out the carnival festivities. These early events consisted mainly of masked dances, as well as flower, water and paint wars.

 

The Campeche Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in Mexico and the American continent

The Campeche Carnival is one of the oldest carnivals in Mexico and the American continent

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The Carnival of Campeche is one of the most famous in the whole country. Every year, thousands of people come to be part of the incredible events that the authorities arrange for all tourists and locals. Like many other carnivals in the country, it starts with the characteristic funeral of the bad smoke or burn of the bad mood. In addition, the carnivals also incorporate various amounts for all audiences, including children and people with limited mobility. The most popular event is the “Algarabía Campechana“, a large parade composed of carrozas, comparsas, dancers and thousands of colorful costumes.

 

 

 

2. Veracruz Carnival

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The city of Veracruz is the epicenter of one of the most impressive, famous and unique carnivals in the entire country. The carnival is packed with events from start to finish, even including the participation of several artists of international stature. The first record held about the Carnival in Veracruz dates back to the year 1866, when an authorization was requested to hold the festivities. However, it was not until 1925 when the figures of the royal court of the carnivals began to be incorporated, including queens and princesses. From the year 1945, the carnivals modernized rapidly, as they began to integrate lights in their floats.

 

The Carnival of Veracruz, also known asThe Happiest Carnival in the World, is known for its extensive amount of events, which include massive events, such as macro concerts with international artists, coronation of the Carnival Queens, including LGBIQ+ shows and many other entertaining spectacles. In addition, the Veracruz carnivals have the particularity of having parades almost daily, all accompanied by floats and dancers in themed costumes.

The Carnival of Veracruz takes place from approximately Wednesday, February 10 through Tuesday, February 16.

 

 

1. Mazatlán International Carnival

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Welcome to the biggest and most impressive carnival in the entire country. Mazatlán is a city located in the state of Sinaloa. Carnival has been present in the city for several centuries, when the celebration was enhanced in a rough way and was considered the season of sins. In the year 1827 the first masked dance was held with some troupes of soldiers who were settled in the port of the city, this being the oldest celebration so far of the carnival itself. However, it was not until 1898 when the first king of the carnival festivities was chosen. Today, more than 700,000 people come every year to experience the carnivals for themselves.

 

Mazatlan Carnival is a celebration of more than 100 years of history

Mazatlan Carnival is a celebration of more than 100 years of history

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Mazatlan Carnival is one of the city’s prides, as it is a celebration that has been around for more than 100 years. Carnivals have deeply permeated the identity of the citizens, representing great identity elements in their festivities. Carnival is actually a great chain of events that take place from beginning to end, featuring incredible fireworks displays, sports activities, costumes, live concerts and the great carnival parades. One of the most anticipated events is the Combate Naval, an incredible fireworks show beyond compare.

EMazatlan Carnival runs from approximately Thursday, February 11 through Tuesday, February 16.

 

 

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