The Veracruz Carnival arrives at the Port with limitless joy and fun. Considered the most "joyful" and "loud" of the carnivals, this festivity takes place in Mexico and is the second largest and important in Latin America (after Rio de Janeiro in Brazil).
This famous carnival begun as a local masquerade for the upper-class until it transcended borders and became the most famous and recognized in Mexico for its pristine organization and events that revolve around it but, above all, for the well-known merry character of the people of Veracruz, known as Jarochos.
Veracruz is one of the most important commercial ports in Mexico, but it is also one of the most representative tourist and gastronomic destinations. It is here that, for an entire week, the Jarocho port dresses up to receive thousands of people who gather to enjoy the parades of colorful floats, rhythmic dances, original masks, costumes, and get caught up in the rhythm of the comparsas (or krewes) and the queen and kings of the Carnival, which are crowned with the participation of renowned artistic casts and the presence of great musical personalities.
This is a must-attend event that is unlike any other in the world. Join us as we explore this unique festival that reflects Veracruz’s unique joyful character filled with music, colors, and culture!
The origins of the carnival
The origins of the Veracruz Carnival date back to 1866, when Mexico was under the government of Maximilian of Habsburg, when the people of Veracruz, with their cheerful spirit, asked the corresponding authorities for permission to celebrate the "Festival of the masks", which was nothing but a masquerade part and costume balls held in the main social centers of the time.
With the authorization now in place, a regulation was formulated for the first time to govern the festivities. The party was carried out through dances and costumes of the wealthiest residents, who displayed their flamboyant clothes to the people to go out to the main halls of the city.
In the streets all the residents gathered to play carnivals and to observe the elegant attires and the popular characters on their way to the festivities, carrying out their own celebrations. With time, the festivities were brought to the streets for everyone to enjoy with parades and events for all to attend. This spontaneous celebration and parades became a tradition year after year, until it became what it is today, with the parade being one of the highlights of the celebration.
¡El carnaval ha comenzado!
This celebration is established based on the Catholic tradition, in the custom of commemorating the three or four days prior to the beginning of Lent that precedes Holy Week. Thus, the celebrations traditionally take place during the 9 days prior to Ash Wednesday. However, in recent years they have been postponed due to security measures and this year, 2022, it will be celebrated from July 1 to 5.
Although, in reality, the celebration begins days before with the final counts to find out who has been elected Carnival Queen, King of Joy, and Children's Kings, it officially begins days later with what is known as "La Quema del Mal Humor,” or “The Burning of Bad Humor," in the city center, known as the Zócalo.
La Quema del Mal Humor is a ritual that symbolizes the elimination of everything negative that afflicts the world. During this act, various figures are usually set on fire to get rid of the bad they bring into the world; they can be personalities, objects, words, or anything that is seen as negative (in the year 2021, for example, a figure of the Covid-19 virus was burned). This tradition is accompanied by fireworks that illuminate the sky with multicolored lights to ignite the spirits of the crowd that joyfully shouts in unison: "the carnival has begun!"
During the festivities, large parades, dances, and mask parties are organized, and the traditional danzón of Veracruz folklore is performed everywhere. Their music from harps, marimbas, guitars, and jaranas floods the entire festival with son, salsa, and samba. Traditional comparsas, allegorical cars, batoneras, batucadas, and dance groups that meet in the city's main square or any other place where people are looking to participate in the parades of joy. In addition to the dances and parades, other artistic, cultural, and sports activities are carried out throughout the city.
The Veracruz Carnival celebrations end with the burial of Juan Carnaval. Generally, the burial of Juan Carnaval takes place in the Zócalo of the city and while the farewell acts are carried out, the character's will is read; a manuscript narrated with ironic and sarcastic jokes, usually addressing political and social affairs of Mexico and/or Veracruz. It is a way in which attendees can express their dissatisfaction with political and economic situations and, at the same time, denounce in a comical way those government decisions with which they do not agree. The figure is usually accompanied by his Royal Court, a procession of mourners that says goodbye to the activities and closes the festivities of that year.
Currently, the Veracruz Carnival has crossed international borders, becoming the traditional festival where both Mexicans and foreigners who seek the revelry, music, and conviviality of Veracruz can participate.
Under the pretext of going to the famous Carnival, one cannot miss a visit to the city of Veracruz and enjoy the famous and iconic Café de la Parroquia, the glorias of Venustiano Carranza, the toritos, picadas, gorditas dulces, enchilpayados shrimp, volovanes, tamales, Veracruz-style fish, and shrimp empanadas; imagine all this and more, accompanied by the beautiful sea of the Gulf of Mexico. You cannot miss this!
So, tell us, have you ever been to this Carnival? Is this an event you would like to attend? Have you ever been to Veracruz? What other Mexican celebrations would you like to hear about? We would love to hear from you!