This Wednesday is Ash Wednesday which means it’s time to captivate Mardi Gras in Mexico. Mexico’s version of Mardi Gras is called Carnaval and lasts for a week. Carnaval is the biggest deal of the year in La Paz where thousands and thousands of people attend. The malecón (boardwalk) is closed to vehicles because it is packed with live-music stages, rides, street food, drinks, vendors, fireworks, and a parade. This year’s theme was “The Land of Charm and Fantasy.”
There is none of the typical bead throwing, drunkenness, and racy costumes. It’s a gigantic city fiesta that is family oriented for all ages, but there’s still beer drinking and eating! And there’s music everywhere!
There is a band stage on every block or two. And these are fairly major stages, so you can walk along and keep checking out the different bands. We arrived at Carnaval mid-afternoon when the bands were still warming up and doing sound checks, but were still fun to listen to them.
Another stage a block down with the band warming up and military doing security checks around the stage.
And another stage with a band we really liked listening to them play Santana songs. The crowd was a lighter amount at this point, but kept growing.
Some of the vendor booths had amazingly colorful merchandise like this fruit and dulce stand.
Pretty! Carved mango on a stick.
Mmm, we ate a delicious bag of churros. And they were completely homemade starting with the soaking cobs of corn. Then we watched them cutting the corn off of the cobs, grinding the corn into a batter, and then pouring it through the funnel to be fried.
By sunset, the boardwalk street was getting very packed with the crowds.
All the bars and restaurants along the boardwalk were packed with crowds wanting to be able to watch the parade.
This stage band was attracting a big crowd by sunset. With all the band stages, it kind of turns into battle of the bands, but you couldn’t go wrong with whatever band you were watching.
Around 7PM the police motorcade starts down the street very slowly in order to push back the crowd off to the side of the street for the parade. People do not bring lawn chairs or blankets to sit on to watch the parade. The crowds were 5-10 people deep on both sides of the street for at least 3 miles. They stand and dance as the parade comes through. It was challenging to get close up enough to see the parade coming through.
Every float was pulled by a semi or large pickup truck and included live music on their float or super creative animated creations with more music. The floats also either included dancers or were followed by more dancers.
There were a lot of different float themes to fit under this year’s fantasy theme of Carnaval.
There were a lot of pirates, dragons, princesses, and sea creatures. It’s not like a Disney parade, less corporate types of creations, and more individually inspired with far less funding, but almost more impressive because of their inspirations.
We decided with all the fun of the bands, musician, and float music, what the world needs more of is music!
The parade lasted for at least an hour followed by fireworks and then the fiesta goes on all night long.
We loved taking in all the celebrations of Carnaval as it is a giant fiesta on an amazing setting along the La Paz bay!
Are you celebrating Mardi Gras or anything similar?
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