Get to a Coronation!

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.

Rocio IV’s Coronation, El Buki and Combate Naval


Queen Rocio IV and El Buki sing together on stage!

The biggest night of Carnavál 2015, Sueños de Momo/Dreams of Momo, was last night, Saturday. At what a night it was!!! The realest and most relaxed queen we’ve seen in our eight years here (did she ever enjoy her coronation!), an incredible show by Marco Antonio Solís (El Buki), and the best Combate Naval fireworks show EVER!

The coronation this year was only an hour long—a huge improvement, in my opinion. A few years ago when David Bisbal came, he was only allowed to perform in concert for an hour, because the pomp and circumstance had gone on so long. This year rocked! The dance numbers were crisp, we met the 25th and 50th anniversary queens (both of whom look unbelievably good!), Maestro Jorge González Neri was feted for his 25 years with Carnavál, and we were able to crown a queen, all in about an hour. Queen Rocio IV’s court had the theme of the Phoenix bird, and she was greeted by dancers representing Ali Baba and the 40 Thieves. Click on any photo to enlarge or view a slideshow.

After the gorgeous ceremonies and the fireworks, we were introduced to Marco Antonio Solís, who sang for a little over two hours. He seemed sincerely thrilled to be in Mazatlán, and confused when the crowd booed our Governor Malova and Mayor Felton. And they booed them twice during the evening! I was impressed that El Buki knew the names of the Queen and her four princesses, as well as the Governor, though he flubbed Mayor Carlos Felton’s name. Oops.

El Buki sang, played guitar and drums, and danced a few numbers as well—one a cowboy-type number and the other with Carnavál dancers. His voice has aged very well and is still wonderful; we truly enjoyed the concert. I have always loved his music, and that he is such a popular composer as well as performer. It is an incredible feeling to be in a stadium with 15,000 people all singing along to a performer! Many thanks to our friend Jeanette who purchased tickets for us and got us such great seats!

If you read this blog you know that our friends Cathy and Bill have a good friend who impersonates El Buki here in town. We were thrilled that last night they gave him a huge cameo on the video screens—he was sitting right up front! Very cool!

It rained on and off all evening, though it seemed to be drying up by the time we got home around 2:30. Fortunately it was just a persistent drizzle, and didn’t impact the concert or the fireworks.

You probably know as well as I do that if you want to see Combate Naval, do NOT attend Saturday night’s coronation. Unless, of course, like the Queen and other dignitaries, you have a police escort. It has always been very difficult to get through traffic and then through the security lines, in time to get into the party zone to see the fireworks after the coronation events in the stadium. With the new highway and Carnavál’s increasing popularity, however, it is next to impossible.

Last night a good friend was waiting to drive us straight to a friend’s house downtown. We were to watch the fireworks from their roof. We didn’t make it, despite our planning and best efforts. We still saw the fireworks, but not from our friend’s roof nor from inside the party zone. They were spectacular. I can only imagine how great they were on the ground in the zone!


Here is the Noroeste video, taken from the party zone:

In my opinion the crowds and the traffic during Carnavál have really gotten overwhelming. Carnavál de Mazatlán has long been one of the world’s most terrific events, accessible to the public and family-friendly. However, it has outgrown its historical spaces and ways, and we sincerely hope it will be re-envisioned a bit in future years. Olas Altas can not hold 35,000 people comfortably or safely. Last night people entering the party zone were refused admittance several times during the night, as the crowds inside were at capacity, forcing those outside into long, long lines of waiting. The crowds got upset so the ticket booths temporarily shut down. The Plaza Machado was also very crowded, and with a distinctively young, twenty-something crowd.

We can’t wait for the parade today! As usual, we have our chairs set up on the malecón, right at street level, so we can dance with the dancers as they come by. We had a visit from the Oficialia Mayor, who wanted to make sure we weren’t renting out chairs. We showed them our rental receipt, and assured them the chairs were all for friends and family. More on the parade later. Have a wonderful first parade, everybody!