Carolina: Cruising Past 70: Prepare to Be Dazzled at Mazatlan’s Carnival

Thursday, March 7, 2019

Prepare to Be Dazzled at Mazatlan’s Carnival

…and Witness Mexican Culture at its Best!


This is my third time in Mazatlan but I always went in the Fall. Luckily, we came in winter this time and ran right smack into the Carnaval de Mazatlan 2019.  It is reputed to be the third largest carnival in the world, after Rio and New Orleans. We have been in Mazatlan for ten weeks by this time so it was but natural for us to have learned a lot about Mexican culture. But at the Carnaval Parade, it was encapsulated in dazzling hours of pageantry from 5-10 pm. We saw the best of Mexican culture.

dramatic sunset

This year’s theme was Equinox and the Parade started near the Diver’s Point on the Malecon. It traveled along the Avenue del Mar that hugs the long boardwalk. We watched the Parade from a raised platform built by the Hotel Hacienda, almost where it started. Jutting out from the hotel’s façade, our front row seats were a strategic spot from which I could take pictures of the floats and the people with the glorious sunset glowing on the ocean as a backdrop.


During the whole night, it became obvious that Mexicans enjoy music. This includes traditional Mariachi, Norteño, Ranchera, and Corridos. It was in Mazatlán that the loud, booming Banda music was born. In fact, bands are a regular feature at Mazatlan beaches. But at the Carnaval Parade, it was front and center. One of the most applauded floats regaled the crowd with Banda music played by a band from a gigantic platform on a very tall float.

"bullfighting" at the Parade

prized seafood on floats

The national sport of Mexico is Charreria, which consists of a series of equestrian events. But bullfighting, a tradition brought from Spain, is also popular. In fact, Mexico has the largest venue for bullfighting in the world, the Plaza México in Mexico City which seats 48,000 people. There is one in Mazatlan but the city has banned the sport due to the urging of animal safety enthusiasts. At the Carnaval Parade, the penultimate showcase was a surprising and entertaining mock bullfight of a matador and two huge “bulls.”


Mazatlan’s economy is built upon the strong foundation of agri and aquaculture. Being next door to America is, in fact, a major stimulus to the country’s economy and Sinaloa is so close to Arizona that it is even more pronounced here. The city is extremely proud of its seafood. On this previous post, I wrote about Mexican food and mentioned that Mazatlan is the “shrimp capital of the world.” Many floats featured the prized seafood: pulpo (octopus), langosta (lobster), delfines (dolphins), etc. in contrast to the others that put Mexican beauties on pedestals. 

Mexican beauties on pedestals

Of course, Bill preferred those ladies to the bulls and the seafood! But both will not win against the favorite drink. Pacifico beer, the most popular Mexican beer, was founded in Mazatlan in the 1900s by German settlers. At the Parade, there was a special viewing platform for their people. In fact, because they partly sponsored the event, it was a huge Pacifico float that started the parade.


The dancing horses of Mazatlan ended the Parade. That’s when we started to walk back to the hotel as there was no taxi or pulmoniya around. It took us about an hour to reach the roundabout where the Carnaval Parade was just turning right at Avenue Rafael Buelva to go to its end point, Old Mazatlan near the Catedral. On the walk, we saw hundreds of thousands of Los Mazatlecos, families having spontaneous parties with food they had brought (or bought from the many street food kiosks on the main avenue and all its side streets), senoritas and senoritos dancing to the loud Banda music on the street, children collecting confetti so they can throw them again, and chairs seeming to float on their own as they were being carried on shoulders back to the cars.

picking up confetti to throw again

The Parade was well staged and directed. It brings to mind Mexico’s outstanding film industry that has produced Oscar winners in the Best Director category like Alfonso Cuarón who just won for Roma (which also won the Best Foreign Film category). The outstanding color and creativity all along the Malecon also brought to mind the famous  Mexican painter Frida Kahlo.


Mexican History on a Float

Mexican culture reflects the country’s complex history: the Aztec and Mayan roots that became an important cradle of civilization, the 300 years of Spanish rule and influence, and the turbulent road to independence. In one night, the warmth and expressiveness of the Spanish and the creative and artistic bent of the indigenous were meshed and on display. We were prepared to be dazzled at the Carnaval Parade. And we witnessed the best in Mexican culture.

POSTSCRIPT


One of the floats seemed to caricature the President of the US with whom Mexico seems to have a tenuous relationship. You be the judge!

pinnable image
pinnable image
pinnable image

58 comments:

  1. The parade was amazing. Great experience!
    Getting back to El Cid was a challenge as roads were closed most of way back due to people having parties and more food along the MILES of the parade route

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  2. Wow, the colors and festivities look amazing. How wonderful it must have been to be at Mazatlan at this time!

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    1. We we're so lucky! We will go back next year!

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  3. How wonderful to be able to be in Mazatlan for the festivities! I love all the colourful floats, and would loved to have tried the street food. I'm glad more places are banning bull-fighting - it is an unnecessarily cruel sport.

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  4. I love night parades and this looks really spectacular especially with all those colorful and lit up floats, it must have been really festive to experience this.

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  5. I had no idea Mazatlan had a Carnival. Also didn't realize Charreria was the national sport. Curious to see bull fighting....

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  6. I have never thought of Mazatlan for Carnival. And did not realize it was the 3rd largest in the world. I love the variety of colourful floats. I am sure it was fun to see the dancing horses at the end of the parade. But I did love the float that looked like Trump!

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    1. Hehehe...people are telling me it isn't him. Loved the mock bullfight at the end, too!

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  7. I used to live near New Orleans and often went to carnival there, but I bet it's utterly different in Mexico. I would go there just for the seafood, but neat you planned for this extra special event. I've heard about the special music done for the Rio carnival; didn't know that Mexico did that too.

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    1. Banda music originated in Mazatlan. And yes the seafood is to die-for. But no, we didn't plan on this. We just got lucky!

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  8. I have been to Mazatlan so many times, but never during this carnival. Looks like such a blast.

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    1. We had been many times, too. This year, we got lucky!

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  9. I've only had a brief exposure to Mazatlan on a cruise port of call. It's hard to believe it has the 3rd largest carnival parade in the world. I'm glad to learn that Mazatlan has banned the blood sport of bull fighting. As a child living in Mexico for a year, my parents took us to bullfights. I was 9 at the time. Fast forward 55 years or so, and I have to say, this is still a "what were they thinking?" moment in my recollections of being parented. P.S.: There's no question about who is featured in that last float. Who can blame them?

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  10. We are collecting lots of new memories now. Bill loves the city. He doesn't many vacations here with his late wife.

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  11. Wow, this looks like such an amazing experience! It's great to hear about bullfighting now being banned. Although I appreciate long-standing traditions such as that, animal welfare is so important and times have changed. If I ever get the chance to visit Mazatlans I hope it's around Carnival time - it looks so fun. Thanks for sharing!

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  12. What an amazing festival and cool thing to see firsthand! I had no idea this carnival existed and it's the third largest in the world! It looks like a spectacular time and a heck of a lot of fun. I love the photo of the kid picking up the confetti to throw it again, I remember doing that as a kid. You gotta keep the party going! The pictures are amazing and I'm sure the festival is even crazier in person. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. That's how you kept the party going as a kid. How would you found it now as an adult I wonder?

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  13. Guys, this looks like so much fun!! I can just imagine you two dancing in the streets with the music, the lights and all the mixture of sounds and music!

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    1. Yes,vwe danced like never before and bought dancing lights for my hat!!!

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    2. Yesl! We even bought dancing lights for my hat!

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  14. Carol, you two are having such an amazing time in Mexico. The parade in Mazatlan looked like so much fun. How long did it take to get all of the confetti out of your hair?

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  15. This looks like a blast and your viewing platform gave you a great view of it all. Jealous! It looks like so much fun!

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    1. The viewing platform plus buffet cost us US $70!

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  16. Kudos to Mazatlan for banning bull fighting. How progressive! It does sound as though there many other traditions to enjoy at carnaval. I've seen photos of the festivities and they do look impressive!

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    1. People say it is not as impressive as usual because the aging designer of floats recently passed on.

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  17. I didn't know Mazatlan had a Carnaval. Looks to be a colorful and joyous celebration.

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  18. Indeed a dazzling carnival. Loved the colorful costumes and the props.

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    1. It was much better in person couldn't bquite capture the real thing!

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  19. This looks like a wonderful and colourful event! The parade floats look amazing. I love how colourful and significant they are to the culture and current events. Such a wonderful festivities to witness!

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    1. I understand previous years were even better because the old man who did most if the floats had passed on.

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  20. What a cool night parade! The floats look so colourful and so do the costumes! I love the lagosteen float!

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  21. I love carnival. Mexican horsemanship is such an art and source of pride. I always associated horses with the old west but that tradition stayed alive for much longer south of the border. I love the movie "All the Pretty Horses" that got me dreaming of being a Mexican Cowboy.

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  22. Loved this tale of the carnivale. We had similar celebrations in major Greek cities this year as well. They really help showcase the culture don't they?

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  23. I am extremely inspired along with your writing talents as
    smartly as with the format for your weblog. Is that this a paid theme or did you modify it yourself?
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  24. What a carnaval! Such colour and celebrations, I can almost hear the music. Did not know Pacifico beer was founded by Germans in Mazatlan! I am a fan. Lucky you to be there at Carnaval time.

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  25. How cool - I like a bit of Pacifico beer, but I'd never heard of Banda music. I'm going to look it up - perhaps I've heard it, but don't know it by the name of Banda! Really interesting post (and I'm glad they banned bullfighting there ;-) )

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  26. Mazatlan festival looks very cheerful, full of colors and very exciting too. I was knowing about bull fight ritual in Spain and in Tamil Nadu(India) but good to know that this thing existed in Mexico too. I would love to see those decorated pedestals in parade.

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  27. Mazatlan festival looks very cheerful, full of colors and very exciting too. I was knowing about bull fight ritual in Spain and in Tamil Nadu(India) but good to know that this thing existed in Mexico too. I would love to see those decorated pedestals in parade.

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  28. Carnaval can be really cool, and in Mexico (like other Spanish speaking countries) the parades are always so stunning! It's awesome that you got the front row seats to enjoy the parade! We're not surprised that there was a float with the caricature of the US President! Did anyone throw tomatoes at that float? haha...

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    1. No no one. Not many recognized it as such. Very subtle, if at all.

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  29. Helpful info. Lucky me I discovered your website unintentionally, and I am shocked why
    this accident didn't happened in advance! I bookmarked it.

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  30. Carnaval in any country is just a marvelous spectacle. So very cool you managed to get front row seats ... what, you didn't want to participate IN the parade? ;-) I love the fact that the children scurry around scooping up confetti in cups so that they can throw it again. Priceless.

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    1. I was so happy I got that epic shot of the kids!

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  31. Those floats are amazing!

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  32. Carnaval looks beautiful, all the colors and the floats look extremely detailed. Great Pictures.

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