Mérida, Yucatán — Organizers of this year’s Carnaval, again being held far from the city center, are expanding effort to encourage people to make the effort to attend.
After years of complaints about crowds and chaos, the Carnaval’s top festivities were moved from the Paseo de Montejo to the X’matkuil fairgrounds, in the city’s south. In newspapers and on social media, however, photos of empty bleachers appeared last year, challenging the city to figure out how to return a high level of public engagement to Carnaval.
For 2016, transportation program called “Carnaval Express” will send buses back and forth from Parque San Juan in the Centro; Plaza El Patio in the east side; and Plaza Canek on the west side, all going south to the X’matkuil fairgrounds.
The city is deploying 600 vehicles from 9:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. — and to 2 a.m. when there are night parades. Special buses for people with disabilities are also promised, as well as a special “Transporte Rosa” for women and children only.
Also, for the first time in the celebration’s history, box seats will be offered for free, and the city will crack down on any illegal selling of chairs and bleachers.
Of course, Carnaval-related activities will be at the fairgrounds. The children’s parade remains at the City Hall, by the Plaza Grande, on Friday, Feb. 5. Later that day, the coronation of the Carnaval King and Queen will be held at the Centro de Espectaculos Carta Clara, followed by performances by four rock bands.
But the big event, the Fantasy Parade, is 8 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 6, at the fairgrounds. Soap opera actress Lorena Herrera will appear for her fans.
The entire schedule is online.