Mexican celebrations and special events in the Caribbean – and how to celebrate them

Mexico Independence Day. It's impossible to talk about Mexico without thinking of a celebration.

It’s impossible to talk about Mexico without thinking of a celebration. In this beautiful country inhabited by people that seem to always be happy, anything can be an excuse to gather with friends for some drinks, dance, music, and laughs! Even a casual Friday get-together can end up in a wild night partying across the city, no matter which city you visit. You don’t even have to know anyone in Mexico to end up invited to a party, no matter how “intimate” the celebration may be.

It is possible to find a Mexican Fiesta almost anywhere throughout the year. Of course, the Mexican Caribbean is well known for setting the standard for party time. From the wild clubbing nights at the Hotel Zone in Cancun, the world-famous electronic beach parties at Tulum to the magic Playa nights in Playa del Carmen, with parties and celebrations all along the famous 5th Avenue, there’s always something fun to do in the Riviera Maya. While the day is ideal for exploring the natural wonders and indulging in the authentic Caribbean beach vibes, the nightlife in the Mexican Caribbean is something you need to live at least once.

The Riviera Maya nightlife and the celebrations almost disappeared for a whole year due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, society is coming to understand how to live under new normality. The party gen in Mexicans is strong and has learned to adapt, so the party lives on! Needless to say, today, we have a more significant reason to celebrate; we are alive! We don’t need a particular date to party and feast. Still, there are some traditional celebrations in Mexico that you may want to attend this 2021. Here’s a list of celebrations that you can’t miss when visiting Mexico and some tips on how to enjoy them, especially if you’re coming to any destination in the Mexican Caribbean.

Mexico Independence Day

First, we need to tell you the truth: We have an Independence Day date, and it is the biggest celebration in Mexico, but it is not on May 5th! That’s right: No “Cinco de Mayo” down here! The actual Independence Day date is September 16th, and the celebration starts the night before, on September 15th. Majors at all municipalities and the country’s president commemorate “El Grito” in plazas and community squares across the nation. El Grito is known to be the “cry of war” that started the fight to become an independent nation, on that date back in 1810. People are led in the call “Viva Mexico,” and that’s the official starting sign for the celebration! Most restaurants and clubs have a party. The streets are decorated with green, white and red (The colors of the Mexican flag). There’s music, dancing, fireworks, and a lot of Mexican food everywhere! This year things may be different, but rest assured that you’ll find a way to party on this date in any of the Mexican Caribbean destinations.


Believe it or not, Halloween is a thing in Mexico, too, especially in big cities. If you’re visiting Playa del Carmen on October 31st and thought you’re going to miss the spooky holiday… worry no more! Halloween is a big thing in Playa del Carmen. Hundreds of people (most adults) take on the street to show their incredible Halloween costumes, turning 5th Avenue into a “catwalk for horror.” Some clubs like Coco Bongo offer big Halloween parties and costume contests, so don’t forget to bring at least a mask to become part of the big Playa party!

Día de Muertos “Day of the Dead”

Dia de Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is arguably Mexico’s most recognized celebration worldwide. On this festive and colorful holiday, families remember and exuberantly celebrate their deceased loved ones. While it is not a wild party, Dia de Muertos is celebrated throughout the country with music, dance, art, costumes, and parades. At Mexican homes, people set altars to remember the departed. The celebration extends to the cemeteries, with people visiting and decorating the graves. In the Yucatan Peninsula, the Day of the Dead is known as Hanal Pixan, and it’s focused on cooking a special meal that the souls of the dead will enjoy the night of November 2nd. It’s a beautiful tradition that you should not miss. Many events will be scheduled throughout the Riviera Maya to celebrate.

Riviera Maya Jazz Festival

The biggest music event in Southeast Mexico is the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival, which takes place in Playa del Carmen during the last weekend of November. This three-day festival brings well-known international and local acts on a beautiful stage on the beach to perform next to the beautiful Caribbean sea. The festival is free for everyone. Thousands gather to enjoy international music acts from jazz, funk, blues, salsa, and even progressive rock. Acts like Dweezil Zappa, George Benson, Tower of Power, Sergio Mendez, Spyro Gira, Herbie Hancock, Earth, Wind & Fire, Nora Jones, and many more have been part of this unique event. The last edition had to be streamed online only, so the real vibe was missed. The good news is that the fest is coming back in 2021 to the famous Mamitas Beach. If you happen to be around, grab a bottle of wine and find a good spot on the sand to enjoy an entire weekend of music and fun.

The Mayan Winter Solstice

While several significant celebrations occur throughout the year, the holiday celebration in Riviera Maya that makes the biggest splash is the Mayan Winter Solstice.

The ancient Mayan people honored the winter solstice in December with several rituals. They considered the winter solstice (the shortest day of the year, which falls on December 21st annually) as a symbol of renewal. People gather at Chichen Itzá, the most significant Mayan archaeological site, to witness one of the most remarkable natural events of the year:

The sun appears to be “ascending” the temple of Kukulcan into the sky. During the same day, there is also a point when the temple’s northern and eastern sides are entirely dark while the southern and western sides are illuminated in bright sunlight. If you’re in for an authentic Mayan celebration, this is it. By the way, Did you know you can get to Chichen Itzá by plane? Contact us for more info on this fantastic


New Years Eve

One of the world’s most significant celebrations is obviously New Year’s Eve. Celebrating it on a Mexican Caribbean destination takes you to the next party level. Literally everywhere, every street, every restaurant and club, and almost every public beach is packed with celebration. There’s something for everyone on the last night of the year and the first hours of the next one. The dark skies get lightened with fireworks. There’s music and party everywhere. You can feel the celebration mood from the Island of Cozumel to Cancun, Playa del Carmen, and Tulum. The streets turn into a giant parade full of life and joy, and it goes through the night and at some places till noon of the following year. We all missed last’s year party, but the world is already recovering, so we’re confident we’ll have the chance to have a big celebration in the Mexican Caribbean.

Many other celebrations in Mexico take place in the first months of the year, so we’ll have to talk about them in another post. In the meantime, get ready to farewell 2021, celebrating any (or all) of the above.

Don’t forget to visit our website for more unique experiences in Cozumel and the Riviera Maya.

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On Board by Fly Cozumel is being issued monthly and covers brief information and news about the destinations of Fly Cozumel.