For the last week Playa del Carmen has been full of parades, street parties and lots of samba music.  Regardless of what we might have led you to believe this is not typical day-to-day behavior here. No, what it means is that it was Carnaval time! This year’s theme for Carnaval in Playa del Carmen was “Con Un Nuevo Corazon” or “With a New Heart.”

We’d heard that Cozumel  has a pretty amazing Carnaval, but we couldn’t make it over to the island this year.  And while it’s certainly not on the level of Rio de Janiero or New Orleans, Playa del Carmen still knows how to throw a party and put on a really good show.  Typically celebrated right before Lent, Carnaval is rooted in the Catholic religion and is like the last gasp of debauchery and indulgence prior to fasting that occurs leading up to Easter. It usually lasts for a week and culminates on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. In some other cities I know that the the debauchery can be quite….debaucherous. Here in Playa all the events seemed pretty family friendly and tame (or it’s entirely possible that we’re just not cool enough to get invited to those parties). One of the highlights for all age groups was the almost nightly parades. Each evening several main streets were closed off and people lined up to watch the floats, dancers and performers go by.

Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
This was my competition for the candy and beads that were thrown. I totally could have taken them but Jason said no.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
Yes, the kid on the left is texting. Teens are teens everywhere.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
There were so many bright and vibrant costumes.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
This group was shaking and shimmying so fast I had a hard time getting a photo. But oh they were having a great time.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
These little girls can already dance a million times better than me.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
I absolutely loved the colors these ladies were wearing and the big smiles on their faces. They were having a blast.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
This little guy….
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
Some kind of…lucha libre superhero I guess? His super power being that he had a big bag of candy to hand out.

The parades ended each night in the Municipal Plaza, kind of like the town square, where huge crowds gathered to dance – there was so much dancing – listen to music and watch performances and where they crowned the Kind and Queen of Carnaval.

Carnaval Crowd in Playa del Carmen
I’m pretty sure most of these kids were still going strong long after I was in bed.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
They might have been a bit older than the other people they were sharing the stage with, but this couple were holding their own and getting down.
Carnaval in Playa del Carmen
Mystery solved. I thought the drum circle that we always hear were playing just to play. Turns out they were just practicing for the big show. Even better? I already knew all their songs.

There might be bigger and more extravagant parties out there, but the Carnaval in Playa del Carmen was fun, festive and just the right size for us.

So tell me, did any of you attend a Carnaval celebration in your area and how did it compare?