The Best Festivals in the Riviera Maya

Whether you’re a full-time resident of Mexico or a snowbird that flocks to escape the freezing winters of the north, it’s good to know what’s going on around for you to enjoy. The Riviera Maya and the whole Yucatan Peninsula are increasingly booming when it comes to art and culture. Because of this, many festivals and events have started to take place annually. So, get out your calendar and start marking the dates to attend these amazing festivals year-round.

Spring and Autumn Equinox Festival

Equinox Chichen Itza

Each year, attendees can observe an extraordinary manifestation at Chichen Itza in the Yucatan Peninsula. This happens during the first few days of spring, as well as fall, when the descending sun casts a shadow of a giant serpent alongside the corner of the renowned Kulkulkan Temple. The shadow gives the impression of a snake gliding down the staircase. It then fuses with a large stone serpent head at the base of the pyramid.

This commemoration rejoices the progressive zodiacal prodigy of the Mayan culture with a variety of concerts, sounds and bright light displays on the consecrated archeological site.

The Riviera Maya Film Festival

The international film industry puts on a festival to celebrate cinema through contemporary films every year. Producers screen Mexican and foreign movies throughoug different spots in the Riviera Maya, from Cancun to Tulum, during six days. It’s a great event for film lovers and a great way to get to see your favorite actors, directors and industry big names in person.

In Playa del Carmen, award-winning films are featured in remarkable outdoor locations such as the beach, as well as inside reinstated theaters. In Cancun they have a drive-in cinema, as well, which is one of the most popular events they host. The festival has attracted over 80,000 visitors over the past five years and has featured close to 1000 free screenings.

Festival of Life and Death at Xcaret

Day of the Dead

The Festival of Life and Death takes place over four days starting on October 31st at the Xcaret eco-park. Inside the festival grounds you can enjoy delicious foods such as tamales, cochinita pibil and other traditional Mexican tasty treats. You will also be blown away by the many decorations and lights within the park.

This is a truly Mexican experience you won’t want to miss if you’re visiting at the time. The festival features musical performances, theater, comedy, equestrian shows and a lot of culture. It is suitable for families with children of all ages. With plenty of flowers, candles, and beautifully-decorated altars, you won’t even know you’re in Mexico’s most touristic destination.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

Perhaps the best thing about the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival besides the stellar line-ups, is that it’s completely free. The even takes places on the beaches of Playa del Carmen and it is one of the longest-running festivals to take place here. Thanks to its world-class entertainment and gorgeous setting, it is a favorite amongst locals and foreigners alike.

Even if you’re not a jazz fan, it is great to appreciate the music as they bring plenty of big-name artists. The setting is quite enjoyable, too. Many people bring food and drinks and make their own beach picnic while listening to the music. It runs through the night.

International Festival of Caribbean Culture

The International Festival of Caribbean Culture is a six-day festival in the Riviera Maya with events held mainly in Cancun during the month of November. This festival is popular amongst people who enjoy salsa music and poetry. There is always plenty of dancing, amazing Caribbean artists and a lot of fun to go around.

Make sure you plan your visits to Mexico or your general calendar around these amazing festivals so you can enjoy the most cultural activities around. The Riviera Maya is growing ever-so-rapidly and more and more of these festivals are now taking place here. Mark your calendars and enjoy!

New Year’s in Playa del Carmen

We have quickly approached that time of the year when everyone is wondering where the time has gone. The end of December if fast arriving and soon we will be saying goodbye to 2015 and hello to 2016.

The popular tourist destination of Playa del Carmen is soon to be swarmed by thousands of tourists and locals alike wanting to give a good farewell to the year in paradise. Who can blame them, really? There is no place like the Riviera Maya for a good meal, a good party, a good time and an amazing location to start the New Year.

Whether you have already landed or are just about to hop on a flight to this gorgeous beach town, here is a list of things you can expect to do to celebrate the arrival of the new year.

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Fine Dining

Playa del Carmen is many things, but it certainly is nothing short of hosting an array of amazing and finger-sucking, delicious restaurants. Whether you want to spend your last day of the year eating Mexican, Italian, French, or a mixture of different culinary styles, you are sure to find something to satisfy your cravings.

Go big or go home: Fifth Avenue is known for featuring restaurants upon restaurants serving delicious New Year’s meals. This is your chance to spur a little on the cash for an amazing meal and a night to remember.

Heads up: reserving a table a few days in advance is mandatory if you want to secure a place. Remember that thousands of tourists flock south at this time of year and restaurants are sure to sell out.

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Party ‘till the sun comes up

It is no secret that Playa del Carmen is giving Cancun a run for its money when it comes to the party scene. Year long, people visit from around the world to experience the amazing nightlife that this paradisiac coastal town has to offer. Many people have said that Coco Bongo, one of the biggest and most famous nightclubs in the Riviera Maya, puts Las Vegas nightlife to shame. There is nothing like celebrating New Year’s here.

Coco Bongo throws one heck of a party for $150 USD; if you are not too keen on paying too much, you can always head to one of the smaller (and significantly cheaper) bars and clubs on 12th street. Either way, you are sure to have the night of your life.

Heads up: Even though Playa del Carmen has an amazing nightlife, it’s quite limited to 12th Street. This means that the area will be overcrowded and clubs might be hard to get into if you arrive late. Be patient and go with the flow.

Beachin’ it

It is a common thing to celebrate the arrival of the New Year by the beach. Many beach clubs, such as Zenzi Beach Club, Fusion or Canibal Royal, host special New Year’s Eve dinners right on the beach with live music, party favors and a chilled crowd. Places such as Canibal Royal will bring on international DJs to set the music mood, as well.

After dinner and welcoming the New Year, head out to one of the public beaches to witness the first sunrise of the year. The sun will light up the gorgeous Caribbean Ocean for the first time in 2016.

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Coincidance Beach Festival 

From December 30th to January 2nd, the Coincidance Beach Festival will feature international DJs for an electronic goodbye to the old year. On the 31st, at Coco Maya, you will be able to dance the night away to DJs such as Robert Babicz and Harold Tellez, amongst many others.

The four-day pass is available for $165 USD and it will be hosted in La Santanera, Coco Maya, Reina Roja and SacBe Jungle.

There are hundreds of options to celebrate New Year’s Eve in this beautiful paradise beach town. Be sure not to miss out on any of them, because this is a unique life experience. Happy New Year from the Top Mexico Real Estate team!


Top Mexico Real Estate is an American-owned real estate company catering to Americans and Canadians looking to relocate to the Riviera Maya or anywhere throughout Mexico. Browse through our thousands of property options and contact one of our Top Buyer Representatives who will gladly guide you in the journey to becoming a homeowner in Mexico.

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A Fair is More Than a Fair, It’s a Whole Affair! Playa del Carmen Fair 2013

The Playa del Carmen Fair is a summer event that many locals and expats look forward to all year!  The Fair will usually take place at some point in July and runs for a little over a week!  During that time the streets around Wal-Mart are closed down and packed up with rides, food vendors, craft and merchandise vendors, and entertainment areas.  This is normal for any fair that you will find in your own home town but anywhere you go each place will bring its own Flare!  Mexico certainly brings its own and I want to show you some of the ways we do it.


The Rides

Let’s start with the rides.  There is a nice selection of easy going or thrilling rides both for adults and kits.  Of course you will find the ever so famous BIG WHEEL; most know it as the Ferris Wheel!  This is a common ride among fairs everywhere and is sort of the landmark of the whole event!  Another favorite in the Playa Fair is the sky ride where many people wait in line for hours to take a ski slope type trip through a couple blocks of the town center.  Other rides include some fast adult thrillers whipping you around and upside down and some fun picks for the kids!


Games & Shows

If rides are not your thing there are plenty of other things to keep you busy!  There are many games to play that will offer prizes for the winners. Also there is a special entertainment tent where you can see many different kinds of shows put on locals in the community including dance and music which in most cases is rich in culture!



There are plenty of shopping opportunities for local products and handcrafts. This is a good place to find a cheap colorful pair of shades, some nice decorative Mexican handcraft, plenty of jewelry, even shoes!  And that is just to name a few!


Mmmm … Food!

Now everyone’s favorite Fair subject!  The FOOD!  A fair would not be a fair without traditional fair food.  Depending on where you come from the food may change but the craze and eagerness to eat delicious things will stay the same.
Some common and traditional foods include corn on the cob that is smothered with mayo, parmesan cheese, lime and chili!  Also, churros which in my opinion are another version of a fried dough covered in sugar; they are simply amazing.

How many ways can you cook a banana?  Well at the fair you can fry it either to a crisp like chips and eat them as such or until soft and sweet to smother it in a sweet vanilla crème sauce called Lechera! Either way you are in for a treat!

Now on to the marquesitas!  Marquesitas are made with a batter almost like a crepe but when cooked the dough gets crunch like a soft waffle cone filled with cheese or sweets like nutella or sweet caramel.

Don’t have a sweet tooth? Well that’s ok.  There are like three different ways to eat hot dogs.  Try them small and cut up with fries, traditional or make it a corn dog! Here in Mexico we like variety!  Other traditional whole foods include hamburgers and of course tacos and quesadillas!!!  It is likely you will arrive home nice and full!

But don’t worry, you don’t have to wait until next July for these delicious treats because it’s likely you will see them again in February when Playa holds its annual carnival event!

To see some great photos of this year’s event please visit our album on Facebook


-by Bea Lozano
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