This year is the 135th anniversary of the Carnaval here in Mazatlán. With our history as a port city (read pirates, drug runners and all sorts of shady operators), since the early 1800s my beloved home has been the site for a pre-Lenten Mardi Gras. They say we are the third largest in the world, after Rio and New Orleans. But who’s to say?

The main events run from the 19-24 of February this year, but for over a month now the fervor has been building. We’ve had parades, campaigns and parties for all the candidates for Queen and King. We’ve had the unveiling of the decorations, and the light display is fantastic. Strings of multi-colored lights are hung along the malecón from the Pedro Enfante statue to the Golden Zone (5 miles maybe?). It is a sight to behold! They include 90 different designs of very large, lighted masks on either end of each block. The lights are strung all through the winding streets of the Centro Histórico, too, and there are ticket booths, temporary restrooms, chain link fencing, and loads of background scenery everywhere.

A few nights ago we had the final vote counting to choose the Queens (Queen of the Carnaval, Queen of the Juegos Florales, and La Reina Infantil) and King of the Alegría (my favorite local Banda El Recodo–see photo below of me honoring them with my presence 🙂  ). They gave Greg a CD of their current hit, “Te Presumo.

Rigoberto Lewis has made the carrozas, those incredibly gorgeous, ornate, over-the-top Carnaval floats, since 1960. He seems to live the whole year for Carnaval, eating, sleeping, dreaming and breathing the floats.

So what actually happens during Carnaval? Well, this will be our first, so I look forward to letting you know. Some of what I know will happen is this:
  • The Mazatlán Prize for Literature is announced.
  • The Antonio Lopez Saenz Prize for Painting is announced.
  • The reenactment of Angela Peralta’s arrival to Mazatlán in 1883.
  • The coronation of the King of Joy (my favorite banda).
  • The coronation of the Queens of the Flower Games. That evening includes the Clemencia Isaura Prize for Poetry.
  • Coronation of the Queen of Carnaval, in the baseball stadium right behind our house.
  • The Burning of Bad Humor. If you have some you want me to burn for you, get it to me before the 21st!
  • The Combate Naval, a huge fireworks battle in the bay.
  • The first Carnaval parade, which will go right past our house on Avenida del Mar.
  • Coronation of the Child Queen, and a big kid party to go with it. Mazatlán’s Carnaval is for the whole family. Schools city-wide even give kids two days off school to join in the celebrations.
  • International Queen of the Pacific contest and dance.
  • Festival of Lights and Fireworks, the second big fireworks display, again in front of our house.
  • The second Carnaval Parade, this one heading south instead of north.
  • And, for the duration of Carnaval, there is a HUGE street party with over a dozen stagesfor live bands, dancing, and countless shops.
This year’s theme is Fantasía Universal, so we are expecting to travel the world from our own local celebration. We can’t wait, and we hope to see you here for Carnaval soon! Don’t plan on sleeping though.

About Dianne Hofner Saphiere

There are loads of talented people in this gorgeous world of ours. We all have a unique contribution to make, and if we collaborate, I am confident we have all the pieces we need to solve any problem we face. I have been an intercultural organizational effectiveness consultant since 1979, working primarily with for-profit multinational corporations. I lived and worked in Japan in the late 70s through the 80s, and currently live in and work from México, where with a wonderful partner we've raised a bicultural, global-minded son. I have worked with organizations and people from over 100 nations in my career. What's your story?

8 thoughts on “Pre-Carnaval

  1. Hey I never took you for a groupie, Dianne!Paul and I think we’ll probably head over to hear El Recodo, I imagine you’ll be there, hanging out with the band, right?

  2. DIANNE,We have 2 children ages 10 and 13. @ years ago we spent 6 months in SMA. I’d love to find out what motivated your move to Maz, if it permanent and how your son feels about it. Also, are you working from there and were is your son going to school. Would you email me at I’d really love to hear more as we would love to move back…at least me, my husband and our 13 year old.Diane

  3. Dear Diane,Thanks for visiting my blog. I’ve attempted to answer both your emails, but the address you gave me bounces. Below that is my most recent answer. Thx.Best, Dianne–Dear Diane,I am happy to help in any way I can.We have a 13 year old as well. Here in Maz there are no international schools. There are good local schools. Most of the good ones call themselves bilingual, and it’s important to know that most are not, or are to very varying degrees. That’s good for having our kids learn Spanish, of course, but it’s a much steeper/more immersion learning curve than we expected for our son, as we were told by the school directors that most of the kids spoke English fairly well and would be able to help/translate in the beginning.Anyway, we absolutely love it here. Mazatlán is a real city—vibrant, exciting, noisy, dirty. It’s not a community built for tourists or one that’s been yuppified (yet). Before moving you definitely want to be sure what kind of community you want. Way different here than SMA, as you no doubt know.We moved here primarily for our son, to give him life experience as a minority/overseas/in a second language. We also wanted the lifestyle of a beach community. We work full-time and we intend that our move here is “permanent” in the sense of, probably Danny our son will graduate from high school here. Life shows that we tend to move every 7-8 years or so, and I have lived in Japan and Spain as well as Mexico City.Am happy to answer any other questions I can or guide you. I am a firm believer that every child should have overseas/multilingual experience. Please know that I run my own business and am a full-time mother/wife/friend; it is Carnaval week here also. So, I may not be able to answer same-day or next-day as it appears you might like. I will do my best.Best, Dianne

  4. Hello,Just read your entire blog and so glad to add you to my blogroll! (hope that okay)The Thursday Errand Post had me Laughing so hard I almost fell out of my chair. It has been a long day and I needed some grand humor!Looking forward to keeping up with you on the blog.

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