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Many cities in Mexico celebrate Carnival, but none as grand as in Mazatlán. This city hosts the third largest carnival in the world, just behind Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans.

Carnival celebration takes place annually, usually five days before Lent, and this year’s Carnival in Mazatlán is scheduled for Feb. 24 through Mar. 1, 2022.

There will be colorful outdoor parades, a variety of food festivals, engaging art, and lively German-style polka music. What makes Mazatlán such a popular Carnival destination is its warm climate, miles of sandy beaches on the Pacific coast, and charming historic colonial town.

Carnival. Photo Courtesy of Mazatlan Tourism Board
Carnival. Photo Courtesy of Mazatlan Tourism Board

The History of Carnival

As far back as 1827, Captain Juan Antonio Muñoz chronicled that on Shrove Tuesday people in Mazatlán wore masks and costumes while parading through the city.

In 1898, Mazatlán Carnival became an official week-long multi-event celebration with a procession of chariots and bicycles, and the official crowning of a king and queen.

Royalty is big in this city offering five recurring Royal Carnival Characters that include the crowning of the King of Carnival, King of Madness, The Carnival Queen, The Queen of the Floral Games and the Children’s Queen.

Stop and take in the views at The Observatory 1873 while sipping Mazatlan’s own Pacifico Beer. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Stop and take in the views at The Observatory 1873 while sipping Mazatlan’s own Pacifico Beer. Photo by Jill Weinlein

One of the highly anticipated festivities is “Burning of Humor,” a Mexican tradition where people burn a giant puppet modeled after an unpopular public figure that is hung and lit on fire to hopefully banish ill feelings out of the city.

In between events, be sure to take a stroll along the Malecón, one of the longest boardwalks in the world. Culinary delights are inspired by the abundance of fresh food.

Food culture has been a major part of the city since the 16th century. Restaurants feature an array of fresh plates on their menus.

Ice cold Pacifico beer is one of the most popular beverages to drink. In the early 1900s, German immigrants brought beer-making to the area when they opened the Pacifico brewery near the port.

Hike to the top of El Faro Lighthouse and stand on the new glass bridge. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Hike to the top of El Faro Lighthouse and stand on the new glass bridge. Photo by Jill Weinlein

Enjoy Lots of Different Activities

Activities to see and do while in Mazatlán include taking a funicular up to The Observatory 1873, one of the oldest buildings in the city. It’s a museum filled with historic photos, antique furniture and marvelous views from every window.

There is a short tour to take to learn about the traditions in making mezcal in Mexico. Visitors can stroll through a cactus garden and step inside a fenced bird aviary filled with various kinds of rescued birds, including flamingos, scarlet macaw, yellow cheeked parrots, and toucans.

There is also a rooftop bar for snacks and a Pacifico or margarita while taking in the city and ocean views.

Parasailing is popular along the beach of Mazatlan. Photo by Jill Weinlein
Parasailing is popular along the beach of Mazatlan. Photo by Jill Weinlein

Not too far away is the famous El Faro lighthouse. For those feeling adventurous, it’s a popular hike up a paved incline trail to reach the top. Still operating, this lighthouse was built around 1879, and considered the highest lighthouse in the world.

The maritime signals were manufactured in Paris, France, and contained a large oil lamp with mirrors. By 1905, this lamp was converted to a revolving lamp and today the 1000 watt bulb can be seen for 30 nautical miles.

Below the lighthouse is a glass bridge cantilevering over the Pacific Ocean. Visitors can walk out to the end of this bridge for a photo opportunity capturing the brilliant blue Pacific Ocean in the backdrop.

Some of the Carnival events take place along the cobblestone streets and inside the beautifully painted turn-of-the-century buildings in Mazatlán Centro Historico. It’s the heart and soul of the city featuring art on walls of shops, mezcalerias, cafes and inside galleries.

Be sure to visit the magnificent Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception. Built in the baroque-revival style, it is home to the Catholic Diocese of Mazatlan.

During construction in the mid-1850s, it took over 40 years to build the church due to a lack of funds. With the help of a wealthy Jewish family, the church was completed in 1899. Look up to see the Star of David displayed in 28 stained-glass windows.

They were installed as a sign of gratitude, and this is the only Roman Catholic Church in the world to have these stars.

Carnival Dragon. Photo Courtesy of Mazatlan Tourism Board
Carnival Dragon. Photo Courtesy of Mazatlan Tourism Board

If You Go

Numerous hotels offer birds-eye-views of the Carnival festivities from windows and balconies, however, this area can be crowded and noisy with up to a million people visiting this time of the year.

We recommend staying in an oceanfront hotel along the Golden Zone, farther from the action and the crowds. One such resort is the Pueblo Bonito Mazatlán, an upscale, all-inclusive retreat blending Old-World charm with modern comforts.

Set along the famous Zona Dorada in Mazatlán, it’s a short ride on the unique pulmonias, taxis that are decorated golf carts.

To get to Mazatlán by plane, international flights are from San Francisco, Los Angeles, Houston, Portland, Dallas, Salt Lake City, South Shore Harbor, Denver, Phoenix, Calgary, Minneapolis, Toronto-Pearson, Regina, Edmonton, Saskatoon, Vancouver, and Winnipeg via non-stop or through Mexico City to General Rafael Beulna International Airport (MZT).

For the best seasonal flight promotions and ground transportation reservations in Mexico, check out CheapOair. Make sure you protect your travel plans from lost luggage, unexpected sickness, flight cancellations and any other issues with travel insurance made for you by Squaremouth.

Read more about Mexico and other exciting destinations:

Author Bio: Jill Weinlein

Go World Travel Magazine

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