Events & Festivals

Mazatlan events may not be the first thing you think of when planning a beach vacation to this lovely coastal town, but when making travel plans to Mexico, it’s worth providing enough time in your schedule to enjoy some of the amazing annual celebrations. From art walks and festivals to the annual Mazatlan Carnaval, there is plenty of exciting entertainment available for travelers.

A vacation in Mazatlan provides numerous opportunities for things to see, things to do, and places to go. While the city is nicknamed the Pearl of the Pacific due to its miles of beach, a variety of activities as well as Mazatlan events are available to keep you busy. Deep sea fishing, tours, surfing, and diving and snorkeling are all popular year-round, but it is the festivals in Mazatlan that will give your trip a unique flavor.

Two prominent festivals in Mazatlan are the annual Artwalk Festival and the Mazatlan Bird Festival. Both Mazatlan events are highly anticipated by locals and tourists. One of the ongoing festivals, Artwalk is a free, self-guided walking tour that takes participants throughout the historic district, the Centro Historico. The tour features more than two dozen artists’ studios and galleries exhibiting paintings, sculptures, jewelry, photography, and printmaking—both finished works and pieces in progress. Artists are available at each of the designated sites to discuss their work, and many items on exhibit are available for purchase.

If you’re interested more in the local wildlife, an interesting festival takes place every January: the Mazatlan Bird Festival, which, as its name implies, focuses on the area bird species. This important event provides tours to a variety of ecosystems and protected areas for an up-close look at the diverse selection of more than 400 bird species in the area. During the festival, visitors can take tours and attend conferences, workshops, art exhibits, and speeches with the focus being on education and the conservation of the bird population.

However interesting the local art and wildlife may be, however, for many visitors to Mexico’s Pacific Coast, the main objective is to let loose and have a good time, and there’s nothing like the local carnival to fit the bill. One of the oldest Mazatlan events, the Carnaval is celebrated annually in February or March, prior to the start of Lent. The Mazatlan Carnaval is one of the largest celebrations of its kind in Mexico.

Mazatlan Carnival

Mazatlan Carnival
Mazatlan Carnival

With plenty of food, drink, and energy available, the festival, which is more than 100 years old, takes on a life of its own for five days and nights as the city celebrates. Like its sister celebrations in New Orleans and Rio de Janeiro, the Mazatlan Carnaval features lavish costumes, parades, clowns, music, marching bands, and dancing in the streets. Part of the festivities is the selection of a king and queen who reign over the celebrations and grand parade throughout the festival.

A tradition of the Mazatlan Carnaval is “la batalla naval,” the mock naval battle that takes place offshore. Large ships anchored in the water use fireworks to depict ammunition used in naval battles and light up the sky. As this is one of the most popular festivals in Mexico, if you plan to arrange your vacation to be in Mazatlan during the carnival, be sure to book early for hotels and flights.

Image: df.medrano (flickr)
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