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FEATURE- Baja’s Biggest Carnavals 2010

by Benjamin Eugene

Celebrated the week prior to Ash Wednesday and normally lasting a little less than a week, Carnaval (Spanish spelling) in Mexico has a long tradition dating back to the nineteenth century. Coming from the Latin word Carnavale, meaning “goodbye to the flesh,” Carnaval refers to the week before Lent (Cuaresma), where carefree abandonment and indulgence are encouraged.

Beauty Queens and Burning Moods, what else can you ask for?

Kick-off begins with the burning of El Mal Humor (Bad Mood), in which an effigy, usually modeled after an unpopular politician of the day, is hung and burned, followed by a flurry of confetti and fireworks. This gives commencement to nearly a week of festivities in some of Mexico’s most popular coastal cities.

Host cities celebrate all sorts of parades daily, depending on the local carnaval’s theme, which differs from region to region. Parades display an array of floats decoratively inspired by Mexican scenery and normally featuring bright flowers and live entertainment. Some parades require an entrance fee, and visitors are advised to get tickets to the parade as soon as they can through the local tourist office or hotel.

Ensenada Carnaval 2010 - "Fiesta Mitológica de los Dioses" - February 11–16

Parade's Route: Ampliación Boulevard Costero. Organizers: Patronato Ensendadense de Eventos Especiales. Phone numbers: (646) 174-0394/(646) 204-2993.

This year more than 600,000 visitors, both local and foreign, are expected during the Ensenada Carnaval 2010. The event will feature traditional events such as the floral games, a children's painting contest, food events, a chess tournament, lots of outdoor fiestas and and a cycling race.

Throughout the Carnaval route you'll find lots of opportunity for food and snacks from local vendors selling tacos, and a variety of Mexican food and beer. You and your family can enjoy the many bands playing on corners and the endless people dancing in the streets.

Carnaval excitement will fill the air, along with confetti and cheers from the thousands of happy Mardi Gras crowds adorned with the traditional masks and necklaces.

La Paz Carnaval - February 11–16, 2010*

Baja California Sur's capital explodes into a wildly colorful party every year during La Paz Carnaval. Parades and food stalls selling meat tacos and shrimp pack the streets, Hispanic music stars perform live and there are fireworks and fairground rides.

In La Paz, Carnaval is a cross-cultural, cross-dressing, free-for-all fun ride for all and everyone is encouraged to participate in the parades and dance under the stars at any of a dozen stages. Public drinking is permitted, and drunks are quickly picked up by the vigilant police to spend the night in the tank, while other local authorities keep the streets safe and clean.

The annual carnaval held mid-February attracts tens of thousands to this town of 200,000 and the 2 kilometers along the waterfront Malecon (walkway) and the streets becomes a river of beer and tequila drinks, and beer tents and beer gardens with their own bandstands, D.J.’s and sexy cha-cha girls.
La Paz is known for incredible fishing, scuba diving and the island of Espiritu Santos, but others will say it's Carnaval! 

Other important carnaval destinations in Mexico include Mazatlan, Sinaloa; Guaymas, along the Sea of Cortez in Sonora; Tepic, Nayarit; Cozumel, Quintana Roo; Merida, Yucatán and Chamula, Chiapas, said to be one of the most indigenous festivals in the country.
*La Paz Carnaval dates were not confirmed as of our publication date and are subject to change.

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