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Mexico, Latin America Gear Up for Carnival Celebrations

February 14, 2012 By: Joe Pike

If your clients are looking for some peace and quite in Mexico, Argentina or Brazil, they’re probably not going to find it in the next week.

The destinations will be celebrating the Carnival season, a time where just about every local and tourist is given permission to party like they mean it so they will be ready for the solemnity of Lent.

With the exception of Trinidad’s annual celebration in the Caribbean, perhaps some of the most lively carnival events held throughout the world happen in both Mexico and Latin America.

Travel Agent breaks down upcoming carnivals that your clients should either book last minute or at least keep on their radars for next year.


Mazatlan's 114th Annual International Carnival is the second largest in Mexico and Latin America, behind Rio de Janeiro’s.

From February 16-21, the city will celebrate the joy and festivity of this traditional event. This seven day, multi-event celebration is filled with live music, folklore, dance, entertainment and costumes. This year's carnival will be a spectacular event with local, national and international participants, in a 24/7 fiesta.

Mazatlan is a beautiful, welcoming and importantly, safe beach side destination for residents, ex-pats and tourists, offering a wealth of cultural activities and gastronomic traditions. Just as the city hosted this year's Oye! Awards last week, the city will once again come alive to celebrate carnival. For more information on Mazatlan’s Carnival celebration, click here.

Also, Puerto Vallarta will join in the tradition of Mardi Gras parades around the world as it celebrates the beginning of Spring with its 4th Annual Carnival. The Puerto Vallarta Carnaval Parade will be held on Saturday, February 18, from 9 p.m. to midnight. The parade route begins at the northern end of the new Malecon at Parque Hidalgo, continuing south on  Paseo Diaz Ordaz, Morelos and Ignacio L. Vallarta streets to continue on Basilio Badillo street where it turns west and then south on to Olas Altas, ending at the far southern end of that street. Visit

Other Mexican destinations that will be hosting Carnival celebrations include Veracruz, Merida, Cozumel, Campeche, Ensenada, San Juan Chamula and Huejotzingo.


The Gualeyguachú Carnival is the biggest open-air spectacle in Argentina. It is considered to be one of the greatest carnivals in the world, similar in style to that of Rio de Janeiro. The city of Gualeyguachú unveiled its carnival stage and seating area – with a capacity for 40,000 - in 1997. The participants of the parades work on their outfits, floats and choreography all year long. The festivities, which kicked off in January, will run until early of March.

In Buenos Aires, throughout the year, you may come across a murga in a back street of San Telmo, the city’s historical district. During February the festivities pick up steam with Buenos Aires’ Carnival Program (Programa Carnaval Porteño). The program consists of hundreds of murga parades in different neighbourhoods within the city, which anyone can take part in for free. The murgas of Buenos Aires have been declared part of the city’s cultural heritage. Visitors wishing to take part in the parades could stay in one of the city’s boutique hotels, such as Mansión Vitraux in San Telmo, Mío Buenos Aires in Recoleta or 1555 Malabia House in Palermo.

In Corrientes, carnival is everywhere. Colourful parades can be found in cities, towns and villages throughout the province. Corrientes city, capital of the province, has been named the Carnival Capital of Argentina. This year the 50th anniversary of the Corrientes Carnivals will be celebrated on the main stage, which will be set up on the city’s main avenue, Avenida Independencia. After a dose of the incredible carnival atmosphere, we recommend a stay at Puerto Valle Hotel de Esteros, in order to visit the province’s natural highlight, the Esteros de Iberá wetlands.

In Argentina’s North West, celebrations combine Spanish traditions with the cultures of the area’s indigenous villages. Typical carnival festivities merge with rituals related to the Pachamama, or "mother earth."

In Jujuy’s Quebrada de Humahuaca, the most notable ritual involves the participants of the procession digging up the “devil” that was buried at the end of the previous carnival. Accompanied by thundering drums, the krewe – all dressed up as devils -, parades through the villages dancing to the rhythm of traditional music such as the carnavalito of Jujuy. This is a celebration not to miss. La Comarca Hotel or Hotel Huacalera are ideal bases for your stay.

In Salta, the parade dancers perform traditional dances, many influenced by Bolivian culture, such as caporales, tinkus, diablada. They compete for the prize awarded to the city’s best carnival krewe. Carnival is also celebrated in the smaller towns within the province of Salta. To make the most of Salta’s festivities, stay at Legado Mítico, in the old town of the city, or in Kkala Boutique Hotel. Fans of ancient culture will enjoy staying in the typical town of San Antonio de los Cobres, at Hotel de las Nubes. Visit


Considered by many to be the best in the world, Brazil’s annual Carnival celebration runs from February 18-21. But it was nearly canceled this year.

Rio police voted Feb. 13 to end their short-lived strike (in Portuguese), and focus on freeing 27 members of the force arrested for striking. A day earlier their Bahian colleagues did the same. Though the imminent approach of Carnival served to pressure the state government into pay increases for security forces, the holiday may also have taken the wind out of the striking police's sails. With blocos, or Carnival street bands, already in the streets and popular focus shifting to fun (with concern over the safety and spending of Carnival-goers, both locals and tourists), the strikers found little support for additional demands.

The country’s largest celebration is in Rio de Janeiro, but the shows in Salvador de Bahia and Olinda are said to be a bit less commercial and attarct fewer people.

Agents should warn clients, however, that a countless number of people will be on the streets in Rio. Cell phones usually won’t work during the celebration and lots of muggings and fights are said to happen during the events. Visit

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About the Author

Joe Pike
Joe Pike is Travel Agent's senior editor covering the Caribbean, Bahamas & Bermuda; Hawaii; Central & South America. Previously, Pike was a newspaper reporter for The Asbury Park...

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By Joe Pike | February 14, 2012
If your clients are looking for some peace and quiet in Mexico, Argentina or Brazil, they’re probably not going to find it in the next week. Travel Agent breaks down upcoming carnivals that your clients should either book last minute or at least keep on their radars for next year.
Filed under : Argentina, Chile, Mexico