Mazatlán is said to be the world’s third biggest Carnaval, spanning over a week of festivities. Each year we attend at least one of the four coronations. It’s so worth it! The pomp and circumstance, the dancing, the music. The performances involved in a coronation are comprised of hundreds of talented local young people and professionals, from visual artists, sculptors, costumers, stage designers, choreographers, musicians and dancers.
Each coronation of course involves the crowning of royalty, and it also pays homage to the sovereigns celebrating their 25-year (this year Alma Loaiza) and 50-year (Lupita Elorriaga) anniversaries. Plus, of course, there are fireworks. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
This year’s Queen of the Floral Games is Uma I. She was crowned by the winner of the Poetry Ward, Sandra Lorenzano. In 20 years of coronations I have never seen a queen struggle as Uma did to ascend the steps to her throne. Her gorgeous gown, designed by Sodelva García and embroidered with laurel leaves, must have weighed a ton!
The coronation itself is preceded by entertainment by local dancers and musicians, and followed by a concert. Friday night’s concert theme was “Rock You,” headlined by Gloria Gaynor. At 79 years old she still belts out a tune, thanks, of course, to her back-up singers. She was impressive! The crowd sang along and danced at their seats. Héctor Ortiz and Quintero Britania were the warm-up acts. The audience ate it up, dancing and waving their lit cell phones.
You will need to purchase tickets to the coronations. There are seats on the field of the stadium, and cheaper seats in the stands. People tend to dress nicely, and a coat is recommended if it’s chilly or damp. Binoculars may also be worth taking.
One of the best musical, dance, and theatrical events of the year in Mazatlán occurs the weekend before Carnaval begins—the “Evening of the Arts.” The event makes the sold-out crowd that fills our historic Angela Peralta Theater beam with pride and delight at their good fortune to live here.
Saturday night February 11, 2023, talented Mazatlecos lit the stage of the Angela Peralta Theater on fire. In a program entitled “Pagan Love,” the night was directed by local legend, Maestro Enrique Patrón de Rueda—born, bred, and still residing right here in our port. The Maestro is Artistic Director of the Mexican National Opera Company, of the opera for the Mexico City Philharmonic, and of the Sinaloan Cultural Festival. Maestro Enrique was trained in the Mexican National Conservatory of Music, London Opera Center, the Royal Academy of Music, and Morley College. His conducting style is filled with passion and a heavy expression of emotion, as you can see in the photos below. Click on any photo to enlarge it or view a slideshow.
The Amor Pagano program united Mexico’s National Dance Company, founded in 1963 and the oldest in Mexico; Mazatlán’s Ballet Company, which is celebrating its 25th anniversary; Brújula Dynamic Flamenco from Michoacán; and the Camerata Mazatlán, founded in 2006.
The second Mazatlecan showcased Saturday night was Sarah Holcombe, beautiful and talented mezzosoprano, who sang the first half of the evening’s program: “Amor Brujo” by Manuel de Falla. Born here in our port, Sarah began her opera studies in our local School of Opera under another local legend, Maestra Martha Félix, in 2007. She further developed her skills in the Angela Peralta Chorus and the Gullermo Sarabia Chorus, demonstrating the high caliber of musical education available to local youth.
Director of our Municipal School of Classical Ballet, Maestra Zoila Fernández is Mazatleca by adoption and choice, though she was born and educated in Cuba. Maestra Zoila teaches students as young as seven years old in our local ballet school and sees many through to professional careers with internationally renowned companies throughout the Americas and Europe. She choreographed the program on Saturday night, including the first act’s Amor Brujo and the final act, Carmen by George Bizet. The flamenco portion of the evening’s dance was choreographed by Nashieli Buelna, another Sinaloan talent shining brightly this Evening of the Arts.
The four key dancers from the National Ballet who starred in Carmen were Ana Elisa Mena Chávez as Carmen; Argenis Montalvo as Don José; Roberto Rodríguez as Escamillo; and Martha Mariana Romero Iribe as Destiny. Their performances were breathtaking—incredible strength, flexibility and grace reminded the audience of the unbelievably perfect beauty of a healthy body. The dancers from our Mazatlán Ballet Company and the 43 talented musicians of our Camerata Mazatlán did an outstanding job, making for an incredible night.
The ostensible reason for this incredible night’s entertainment was to celebrate the winner of the Mazatlán Prize for Literature. This year the award went to David Toscana, from Monterey, for his powerful novel entitled, “The Weight of Living on Earth” (El Peso de Vivir en la Tierra).
Many of our resident foreigners and visiting international tourists love Mazatlán for its miles of beaches, her unbelievable sunsets, the warmth and joy of her people, and our wonderful seafood. Yet another reason to love Mazatlán is for the richness and affordability of her cultural arts scene. If you have not availed yourself of CULTURA’s offerings, you are definitely losing out!
Indigenous people around the world have been marginalized for centuries, and México is sadly no exception. Please join me this holiday season to make a difference in the life of a native child by helping Tarámari schoolchildren here in Sinaloa. These kids live in unbelievably poor families, in isolated communities, and make herculean efforts to get to school. Their families often need them at home, so sticking with an education takes enormous the hard work and commitment of the entire family, plus a bit of luck.
We will work with the the Sinaloan Taramari Collective to support Tarámari children living right here in our state of Sinaloa. There are three terrific ways you can help:
1. Let us know you want to sponsor a child. We’ll get you the child’s name, gender, age and town of residence. You fill a backpack for them as you wish: you might include new toys, school or art supplies, and perhaps a set of clothing for your godchild. Please turn the backpack in by December 15th.
2. Donate money to the Colectivo Tarámari Sinaloense, and they will share with you a ticket that proves your donation went to buy products for the children. In the photo below are card numbers for you to transfer money to (you can pay at any OXXO if you don’t have a local bank account). The leader, Hortensia López Gaxiola, is well-known and trusted nationally for her social activism.
3. Donate non-perishable food items, basic food supplies. Local Mazatlán coordinator, Angela Mar Camacho, will pick them up.
Please pass the word around and thank you for your help. Let’s show these kids that Mazatlán’s foreign community supports them!
Ho, ho, ho!!! Merry Christmas! Happy Hanukkah! Heri za Kwanzaa! Blessed New Year!
So many of you have written in to ask me about the specifics of this year’s Carnaval. There are a few major changes from tradition, primarily due to COVID. The biggest is that Saturday night’s fireworks will NOT be in Olas Altas but will be launched from a dozen different locations around our bay—from Valentino’s in the north to Casa del Marino in the south. There will be quite a few barges launching fireworks to represent the French side of the battle. CULTURA has confirmed with me the 11 pm time, even though the newspapers and other outlets say 10 pm. Tradition is at 11 to give time for the queen to arrive from her coronation. The map CULTURA MZT gave me of the launch locations is below.
If you are wanting to watch the fireworks or one of the two parades, PLEASE NOTE that there are specific entry points to the malecón/oceanfront promenade. A map of those locations is below. NOTE that the first parade will go north PAST RAFAEL BUELNA (last minute change) to Gaviotas this year! Please also note that CULTURA is telling us that vaccination certificates will be required for entry. I can’t imagine that in practice with such huge crowds, but such is the official notice and you will be wise to take it along in case.
Secondly, the coronation of the King this year has moved to the baseball stadium; all the coronation events and concerts will be there. Remember that for the coronations you do need to purchase a ticket at CULTURA offices on Aleman street or at the Angela Peralta Theater ticket office.
Thirdly, the “fair” or carnival rides that normally are in the vacant lot by Sam’s Club have moved to Avenida de la Bahía, now officially called Avenida Quirino Ordaz Coppel, one block off the malecón in front of Parque Central.
Fourth, CULTURA tells me the Burning of Bad Humor will take place before Saturday’s fireworks, but they have not yet decided where exactly or what time. Thus, it is not included in my calendar.
Many of you have been complaining that this year it has been very hard to find locations and start times of events. Thus, I have confirmed and reconfirmed with CULTURA and made you a the calendar to print out, whether you want to be sure to enjoy the events or you want to stay as far away from the crowds as possible.
I’ve also received questions about the theme: “LANAO: The journey continues.” “Lanao,” to my knowledge, is a made-up word, a place of fantasy and magic. The theme thus far seems to be heavily reliant on steam punk, and involves inward journeys as well as those to fantastical places and outer space. It’s the most gorgeous and fun theme we’ve seen in a long time, so even if you’re staying away from crowds, get out and enjoy it! One way to do that is to walk or bicycle down the malecón and view the monigotes or giant statues. You can view a few photos I’ve taken of those statues by clicking here. Some of them are lit at night; so be sure to see them during daylight as well as at night.
Finally, I am offering a special edition Carnaval fantasy print for sale, “Stargazing Carnavalesco.” You can purchase it beautifully printed and mounted on marcocel (fiber board), 24 x 16 inches, for just 1000 pesos! Easy to pack in luggage as it has a hard coating and won’t mark easily. Alternatively, it can be giclée printed on archival paper, 18 x 12 inches, for 1800 pesos. Proceeds help me keep you as informed as I can and help me keep creating photographs. I appreciate your support if possible. WhatsApp +52-669-122-8962 for payment information and delivery.
UPDATE 24 February: CULTURA has said that the Burning of Bad Humor will be at 10:30 pm on Saturday, just prior to the fireworks. They have not specified a location but if you are interested, it’ll be on the malecón and you can follow the bottle rockets. Also they have scheduled a free street concert on Monday night with El Coyote. I’ve added this latter concert to the calendar.
Finally, I’m happy to say that the Mazatlán Tourism Board has called mine the “official” calendar, see email below.
Enjoy Carnaval, everyone and please, stay safe! And remember to purchase your special Carnaval print at a special price today! It helps me to continue sharing updates with you and taking the photos that gratefully so many of you love. Just WhatsApp me at 669-122-8962.
If you believe our beloved Angela Peralta Theater should be fully accessible to those with mobility impairments, I have a very special treat for you!
On Saturday night, November 20th, a group of people passionate about accessibility will gather together to raise funds to help install a freestanding glass elevator in the Angela Peralta Theater in order to make the galleries fully accessible. We will enjoy symphonic music and a four or five-course dinner prepared by our beloved Chef Gilberto del Toro of Gaia fame. If the tasting is any indication, you do not want to miss this! Wine will also flow freely.
The evening will begin at 6:30 pm with a “blue carpet” in honor of those who are differently abled. The performance will begin at 7:30 in the theater, followed by dinner and an art auction at 8:30 pm. Vaccination certificates and proper use of a face mask will be required.
Tickets are 3000 pesos per person; Chef Gilberto is donating his time and expertise. Wines and artwork to be auctioned are also donated. Proceeds from the event will go towards purchasing a freestanding glass elevator to be installed near the bar of the theater, to allow access to the upstairs galleries without affecting the structure of the protected building. Artists who wish to donate pieces to support the cause are welcome to contact me, as are those wishing to make a donation towards the elevator.
For me this is a dream come true. You may remember a few years ago when I had a photo exhibition on the second floor of the opera house. It was the best-attended art event in the history of Mazatlán, CULTURA told me. However, friends on crutches or in a wheelchair were not able to join me at the inauguration, nor was anyone with mobility issues able to view the six-week exhibition. It was so unfair! An elevator will help us rectify that and make the opera house of which we are all so proud accessible.
Please contact me via WhatsApp to get you your tickets or more information: +52-669-122-8962. To make a donation to the cause send your money to the Bancomer account on the flyer above, with your name so Cultura can thank you, or send a note via PayPal to firstname.lastname@example.org and I’ll make sure it goes to the elevator account. Thanks!