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Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean's Events and Festivals

From religious rituals to cultural events, Cancun offers endless entertainment

Photo credit: © Leobardo Martinez
 Events in Cancun and the Mexican Caribbean

Whether you’re a fisherman, party lover, musician or anyone in between, Cancun offers a buffet of festivals and events that will keep you entertained all year long.

Cultural Events

Throughout the seasons, a variety of happenings celebrate the culture of Cancun. The first of the year is Carnaval, which occurs between February and March. Carnaval is known as the Caribbean version of Mardi Gras, and the fun continues for a full week before the beginning of Lent. The streets of Cancun are filled with parading floats, firework explosions and endless dancing. It is advised that travelers keep in mind that many smaller areas include bullfighting in their celebrations, which may not be a pleasant event for some vacationers. Cinco de Mayo is a famous Mexican holiday, which many people know only for its tradition of serious partying and drinking “cervezas.” However, this event actually commemorates Mexico’s victory over the French in 1862.

The plentiful offering of landmark events that honor the past will please history buffs who are planning a visit to Cancun. Visitors of the city are invited to celebrate the ancient Mayan civilization during January, when Cancun hosts the Mayan Village Show. This event recreates a number of historic Mayan celebrations, including the discovery of fire. Mexico’s national Constitution Day is held on February 5 each year, and embraces their government with speeches and ceremonies. In April, residents celebrate the anniversary of the founding of Cancun, complete with parades and exciting street parties. Later in the year, Cancun observes their Independence Day on September 15. Partake in the glorious celebration of Mexico’s independence by shouting “Viva Mexico!”  Read more about the International Cultural Festival in November under Musical Festivals below.

Religious Gatherings

Mexico is known for being widely religious. Many annual events reflect this deep appreciation for spirituality and faith. The year begins with Año Nuevo, which is the Mexican New Year. On January 6, locals celebrate El Día de Los Reyes, which is known as Three Kings Day. This is a day of gift exchanges and the consumption of a traditional King’s cake. A small Jesus figurine is placed in the cake, and whoever receives the slice with the plastic Jesus is obligated to hold the final Christmas celebration of La Candeleria on February 2.

Later in the year, the festivities pick up again. From September 14 to 28, Cancun embraces the Fiesta de San Roman. During this event, around 50,000 attendees watch as a religious parade brings a cross with the city’s sacred patron saint throughout the streets. The first two days of November mark Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. During this celebration, Mexicans hold festive gatherings at the graves of loved ones, complete with decorations, food and tequila. Vacationers will enjoy the large selection of themed trinkets and items that are sold in stores throughout Cancun to commemorate this holiday. Mexicans also celebrate the Festival of Our Lady of Guadeloupe on December 12, which many consider to be the most important religious holiday. Between December 16 and 25, Navidad celebrates the weeklong Christmas holiday. The biggest event of the week is Nochebuena, when families feast together at a midnight meal.

Musical Festivities

Music plays a large role in the culture of Mexico, so it’s no surprise that multiple annual festivals celebrate musicians and different musical genres. Each May, Cancun hosts its annual Cancun Jazz Festival, which originated in 1991. This Cancun tradition features a mix of different jazz styles, and always draws enormous crowds. During the second week of October, the Ilsa Mujeres International Music Festival livens the streets with twelve full days of live music and dancing. This event is known to attract artists from around the globe, and is sure to be a thrilling experience for any music lover. A short month later, the International Caribbean Cultural Festival is held from November 10 – 15. This event boasts salsa dancing, singing, poetry readings and more.

Celebrating Sports

...engage in a sporting event while getting a tour of Cancun


Sports fans will have a selection of actively-themed events to look forward to when seeking relevant festivals in Cancun. Whether you’re into fishing, sailing or running, there is an ideal celebration for you. Each spring, the Sol a Sol International Regatta follows sailors on a voyage that starts in St. Petersburg, Florida, and ends on the island of Isla Mujeres. As the seafarers reach land, the city erupts in a celebration with local dancing, street fairs, live musicians and more. In late spring, the Annual Billfish Tournament draws scores of fishermen to the shores of Cancun and neighboring areas like Cozumel and Puerto Aventuras. During early December, the city of Cancun holds an event called “The Most Beautiful Marathon in the World.” The marathon traces through Cancun’s famous Hotel Zone and winds throughout the downtown district. There couldn’t be a more exciting way to engage in a sporting event while getting a tour of Cancun.  Finally, Cancun's most recent event offering is the Sunset Boat Parade.  It launched in 2012 as a part of the annual Christmas in Cancun festivities, and showcases a collection of lavishly decorated boats sailing from Sunset Admiral Yacht Club & Marina through Laguna Nichupté and arriving at Malecón Tajamar where people set along the shore can view them.

Edible Events

No matter when you visit the Mexican Caribbean, there is a culinary event waiting for your to attend.  For example, Jackson Family Wines partners with Karisma Hotels and Resorts every month to host a wine and food program that highlights top chefs and winemakers to offer attendees and interactive dining and wine sampling experience.

Another monthly event occurs the first Thursday of each month at Fiesta Grand Americana Grand Coral Beach Cancun, and is called the Wine and Art Pairing.  This event brings local chefs and artists together to create meals, wine pairings, and art exhibitions that complement one another.

In March, Cancun holds the Cancun-Riviera Maya Wine & Food Festival.  Each year sees a different theme, such as "Europe Meets the Americas" in 2013, and in 35 events over four days, celebrity and amateer chefs will speak about and share their love for the craft of cooking.  Additionally, wine lovers will be able to sample the year's newest bouquets.

With such a diverse selection of festivals and events, Cancun provides travelers with a buffet of options to please any vacationer looking to celebrate. These holidays offer an exciting and entertaining way to immerse yourself in the vibrant culture of Mexico's famous Cancun. Choose from any time of the year, any reason to throw a party - and Cancun has an event for you. Before heading out on a tropical getaway to this festive destination, be sure to check your calendar to see what Cancun has in store for your visit.


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