Hollywood came to Playa del Carmen last week. Well sort of. The Riviera Maya Film Festival was just held here.

Dozens of films were shown for free in Cancun, Isla Holbox, Puerto Morelos, Tulum and of course here in Playa del Carmen. There were two areas we could go to watch the movies. One was inside a theater not too far off of La Quinta but the other in Parque Fundadores (Founders Park) was my favorite because the screen was set up outside – on the beach.

This is the second year of existence for the event and from what I can tell it’ll likely continue. It was well-publicized (just have to put my old work hat on every once in awhile), well attended and it seems overall that it was well-received. I think it speaks to the continued growth in the area and am assuming next year’s festival will be even bigger.

Saturday night was the closing of the festival so we biked down to Parque Fundadores to watch some of the festivities.

Movies on the Beach in Playa del Carmen
Movie screenings. On the beach. I love where I live.

There were loads of people out and about watching all the activities going on in addition to the movies being shown.

Founders Park Statue in Playa del Carmen
This statue is a new addition to Playa del Carmen. Reviews here have been mixed.


I'm now embarrassed by all my previous sand castle attempts.
I’m now embarrassed by all my previous sand castle attempts.

I was so enthralled by the sand castle building that I almost missed this going on right behind me. I’ve seen these poles in several cities and need to learn about the historical context around this ceremony, but for now I’m calling it the Mexican maypole dance where four guys swing on ropes around the pole.

Mexican Maypole Dancing
There’s also a guy at the very top of this pole.

After watching the performance we made our way over to the entrance to the red carpet to try and catch some celebrity sightings because quoting directly from the film festival program “international film star Christian Slater” was supposed to be attendance. We didn’t hang around long enough to see him (celebrities always arrive fashionably late), but when everyone snapped to attention and started taking pictures of this guy I did as well. I thought he was important because he was walking very fast  and was surrounded by gobs of people including police. We guessed a telenovela star but found out later he’s the Governor. I guess I should brush up on my Mexican politics.

I would make a really horribly papparazzi.
I would make a really horrible paparazzi.

This city continues to surprise us with all it has to offer. I know there are free, unique things to do everywhere, but something about what Playa del Carmen continues to offer us seems extra special. But I’m probably biased. So let’s hear it, what is your favorite free/unique thing in your home city? Maybe you can change my mind.