Annual Events in Mazatlan, Mexico
Carnaval Mazatlan (The week before Ash Wednesday)
Mazatlan’s famous Carnaval has been going since 1898 and is the third largest pre-Lenten celebration in the world, ranking right after Rio de Janiero and New Orleans in size and scope. The International Carnaval is a seven day celebration filled with folklore, dance, live music, ballets, activities, food stands, beer gardens and parties where the diverse celebrants of all generations gather within an exciting atmosphere that combines the magic and culture of Mazatlan.
Some of the main events of Carnaval include:
The Naval Combat: The Naval Combat takes place in Olas Altas on the first Saturday of Carnaval and is a re-creation of Mazatlan’s successful defense against the French invasion. The fireworks and simulated cannons that are exchanged over sea and land is a display of the battle that took place between the Mazatlecos and the French. This display of fireworks is truly an incredible sight!
First & Second Parades: The most highly anticipated events of Carnaval are the parades that go along Avenida del Mar (The Malecon) on the Sunday and the following Tuesday. The boardwalk is transformed into a sea of thousands of families, visitors and locals who gather to enjoy the magical sights of the colorful and eccentrically designed floats that feature entertainers, bands, advertising and a flow of candies and other treats that are tossed into the crowed by the people on the floats. The Carnaval Queens and King each have their own floats which are usually the most fascinating ones.
Crowning of the King and Queens: Throughout the week there are crowning ceremonies for different “Royal Carnaval Positions” that include: the crowing of the King of Joy, the crowning of the Queen of Floral Games, the crowning of the Child Queen and the most important of all, the crowning of the Queen of Carnaval. Each of appointed Queens and King hold on to their crown for the entire year until the next Carnaval when the new Queens and King will be elected.
For the history of Carnaval and for a detailed list of events and dates visit the official Carnaval de Mazatlan website www.carnavalmazatlan.net
Spring Cultural Festival (March through July)
The Spring Cultural Festival, is organized by the Mazatlan Institute of Culture, Tourism and Art, to raise awareness through artistic performances and strengthen the image of the city as a tourist destination. The event will take place from March to July of this year, incluiding 75 performances of ballet, contemporary dance, classical dance, folklorico dance, song, opera, music, literature, film, documentary and theater.
Semana Santa (The week preceding Easter Sunday)
Semana Santa is, along with Christmas, one of the most important and celebrated holidays not only in Mazatlan but in all of Mexico. Semana Santa which translates to Easter Week is the week preceding and following Easter Sunday and the celebration/holiday takes place during the entire week and for some into the following week as well. The main events that take place during this time are solemn but colorful parades, multiple Mass services and often there are also different displays of fireworks. Here in Mazatlan, Semana Santa is like the Mexican Spring Break and by day the most common way of celebrating this week of vacation is by heading to the beaches and enjoying time with family and friends and upon nightfall many head to The Malecon to walk or drive and take in the live entertainment, food stands and beer gardens. If you are considering coming to Mazatlan during this time make sure to book your rental far in advance because hotel and rental occupancy for this week is generally 100% booked!
Semana Moto (Motorcycle Week) (The week after Semana Santa)
The International Motorcycle Week is 5 days of high octane fun and adventure along Mexico’s Pacific Coast and takes place the week after Semana Santa. The International Motorcycle Week of 2011 was the 15th annual gathering held in Mazatlan and there was an estimated 300,000 bikers and spectators who came to Mazatlan from all over Mexico and North America. “The Pearl of the Pacific” sets the stage for an action packed week of activities for motorcyclists and on lookers alike. Highlights include stunt exhibitions, drag races, bike parades, custom bike competitions, bike accessories and apparel, as well as live music and entertainment throughout the city, nightly concerts, giveaways and free contests. The main center of events is located next to Sams Club Shopping Center where multiple souvenir like shops are set up along with beer stands and restaurants. Whether you are a biker or just an onlooker, the sight of thousands of motorcycles parading down The Malecon all at one time is adrenaline pumping parade to take part in!
For a full calendar of bike week events and for upcoming dates visit the official International Motorcyle Week website www.simotomaz.com
Dia de la Musica (First or second week in June)
Day of the Music! This yearly event consists of multiple stages set up in the charming streets of Centro near the Plaza Machado. It offers a variety of musical styles from local and visiting bands and musicians. There is usually an urban art exhibit s well.
This event is carried-out in September by the non-profit organization CINESEPTIEMBRE, A.C. with the support of CULTURA Mazatlán, and in coordination with the Cinematography Training Center, Centro de Capacitación Cinematográfica. It is a film festival featuring independent films of all genres. Cineseptiembre aims to make Mazatlán the heart of Independent Film-making on an international level.
Mazatlan Cultural Festival (October – December)
Locals and visitors can enjoy events of the Festival of the Arts which usually begins in mid October and runs until mid December. Events include classical music, ballet, folkloric dance and other art like entertainment. These events take place throughout the city of Mazatlan but the majority of the festivities can be found in Centro Historico. During these months you can find a list of events in the Pacific Pearl tourist news paper which is free and can be found at many locations throughout Mazatlan.