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Here are Mexico’s 5 best cities for Carnaval

Yes, Merida is on the list, but Cozumel's is higher up

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Carnaval in Cozumel. Photo: Courtesy

The editors at Mexico Destinos place Merida’s Carnaval among the best in Mexico.

In fact, two Yucatan Peninsula Carnavals are on the list. Cancun, Playa del Carmen or Tulum aren’t on the list, but Cozumel and Merida are.

The nation’s capital also didn’t make the list, but that’s because Mexico City doesn’t have major Carnaval celebrations. Various communities in the city’s Iztapalapa borough do have events, however.

Carnaval is rooted in the Catholic tradition of preparing for the solemnity of Lent. The unrestrained celebration would allow the faithful to get frivolity out of their systems ahead of time. Today, Carnaval is as connected to the Christian calendar as you want it to be.

Here are Destinos’ Top 5 Carnavals:

1. Mazatlán

(Feb. 29 to March 5, 2019)

In recent years the Mazatlan Carnaval has positioned itself as one of the most important in Mexico, the third worldwide with more than 100 years of celebration to the rhythm of the tambora.

Don’t miss the dancers in costumes and masks, as well as the Naval fireworks show.

2. Veracruz

(Feb. 27 to March 5, 2019)

Photo: Carnaval de Veracruz

One of the most joyous Carnavals in Mexico and considered the second most important Carnaval in Latin America after Rio de Janeiro.

Here you can dance by day and at night enjoy floats, dancers and parades. Concerts feature international and national artists. The celebration in Veracruz goes back 500 years.

3. Cozumel

(Feb. 27 to March 5, 2019)

Carnaval in Cozumel. Photo:: Carnaval4You

Carnaval takes on a Caribbean vibe in Cozumel. Delicious food is served to the rhythm of the comparsas with their incredible costumes.

Visit El Cielo and Punta Sur to mix Carnaval fun with nature’s best beaches.

4. Mérida

(Feb. 29 to March 6, 2019)

Plaza Carnaval at the Xmatkuil fairgrounds in Mérida.

The White City is filled with color to celebrate la quema del mal humor (the burning of the bad mood) and to dance to the rhythms of the parades in the Centro and at the fairgrounds.

Whether to return the main parade to the Paseo de Montejo remains an annual argument. But for now, it remains at the Xmatkuil fairgrounds, a 10-mile drive from the Centro.

5. Campeche

(Feb. 21 to March 5, 2019)

People paint each other in Campeche’s Carnaval. Photo: Courtesy

Known for being one of the happiest in Mexico and also the oldest, the Carnaval of Campeche first held in 1582. Their ritual “burning of the bad mood” involves a pirate in effigy, a nod to their history. A festival of flowers and “Pintadera” or “Guerra de Pinturas” where participants toss paint on each other, are annual Carnaval events.


Carnaval can get a little out of hand, so Destinos advises visitors arrive early for a good vantage point to see the parade. Only carry what you absolutely need and guard your phone or wallet.

Choose a meeting point in case you and your companions get separated.

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