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Thursday, March 30, 2023

New attractions and bigger-than-ever parades expected for Yucatán’s Carnavales

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Mérida’s Carnaval mascots have been making appearances around town at several events to promote the festivities. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

After nearly three years, Carnaval is slated to return to the Yucatán peninsula in full force next month.

Mérida’s Carnaval celebrations held at Xmatkuil are the largest in the state, but that does not mean other cities and towns don’t have their eye on the prize. 

Aside from Mérida, large colorful celebrations are being planned in Cozumel, Campeche, Valladolid, and Progreso.

Cozumel’s Carnaval is to be held from Feb 15 to the 22nd and be themed around colorful Caribbean imagery. Graphic: Courtesy 

Progreso’s Carnaval has been growing immensely in popularity since its forced cancelation three years ago, but now we are being told to “Expect something huge like you have never seen before in Progreso.”

Progreso is expecting a massive turnout for its 2023 carnaval fueled by pent-up demand from folks in Progreso and Mérida. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The theme of Progreso’s 2023 Carnaval will be “partying in the depths of the sea” and will feature floats, elaborate dance choreographies, and decorations with a beachlike flare. 

Demand for Progreso to hold Carnaval celebrations last year was so intense, that locals decided to organize their own without aid from the city. However, the DIY event was canceled after authorities warned that they would break up any large celebration out of health concerns. 

Though historically Valladolid’s Carnaval has been overshadowed by larger celebrations on the Peninsula, this year the city says it’s ready to “up it’s game.”

Melina Sarahí Mena and Felipe Reyes Pool Mendoza are set to represent Valladolid as the city’s Carnaval Queen and King. Photo: Courtesy 

In Mérida, the city’s Carnival committee says it’s going “all out” and bringing musical acts featuring the likes of Gloria Trevi Dalex and Belinda to multiple stages at the Xmatkuil fairgrounds. 

Despite her tremendously controversial life and career, the pop diva Gloria Trevi is likely to be one of Mérida’s Carnaval biggest draws this 2023. Photo: Courtesy

Earlier: Who remembers when Mérida celebrated Carnaval in the Centro?

Despite having moved the Carnaval away from Paseo de Montejo in 2014, many still feel that at least some festive flare should return to Mérida proper.

A woman with a feathered headdress rides atop a float during Merida’s 2012 Carnaval, back when the celebration was held downtown. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“Having the Carnaval out at Xmatkuil just does not feel right, you know? It’s just like a repeat of the state fair,” said Mérida local Albertó Muñoz on Facebook.

As it happens, this year’s celebrations in Mérida will include some events within the city and the historic center. 

Festive Carnaval decorations now adorn several spots in Mérida, a sign that the festivities will be making a partial comeback to the city proper. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

“For some people, getting out to Xmatkuil is quite hard, so we have decided to bring select events to Mérida’s neighborhoods,” said a statement from City Hall. 

Yucatán’s LGBTQ+ community is also expected to come out in full force, especially after 2022’s pride parade, which was arguably more festive than the Carnaval of the past few years. 

The LGBTQ+ community has always had a large role in Carnaval, but it looks like they are preparing to take it to the next level. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

In the 20th century, the event ballooned in popularity with the inclusion of parades featuring decorative floats and large groups of scantily clad dancers.

Mérida Mayor Renán Barrera poses with performers promoting the upcoming festivities. Photo: Courtesy

The first Carnaval in Yucatán is thought to have been celebrated in Mérida as early as 1578. For more information on upcoming Carnaval events in Yucatán, visit the official event websites for Mérida, Progreso, Cozumel, and Valladolid.