Cozumel's carnival is the most important carnival in southeastern Mexico. While not as big and famous as the ones in Mazatlan or Veracruz, it has the magic of the Caribbean and the warmth of the people of Cozumel.
History tells us that the Carnival festivities originated from ancient rites devoted to the gods of wine and flesh. Many countries have banned carnivals in the past due to excesses in the festivities. Carnival comes to life every February. It culminates on Carnival Tuesday, just before Ash Wednesday, the beginning of a period of religious meditation.
Every year in February, the island of Cozumel turns upside down. The decorated streets are filled with music and dancing. In Cozumel, Carnival lasts two weeks, but preparation is on going the entire year. During that year, the candidates for the King and Queen begin forming their comparsas (dance groups), designing their costumes, selecting the music and the dances they will perform during carnival.
Two weeks prior to the King and Queen Election Ball, the streets begin to warm up. The candidates begin to campaign on the radio and in the streets, trying to get the people to vote for them. During this time, the Benito Juarez Park Plaza is full of specialty stands that offer a wide range of merchandize and typical foods.
The Election Day arrives and in a big party atmosphere, normally on a Saturday, all of the candidates perform their show with their full comparsas. Anyone who attends the event may vote for the candidate of his or her choice. The next day, the new King and Queen of Carnival perform for the public at Benito Juarez Park. By this day, Carnival is in full swing in Cozumel. Over the next week, comparsas perform all over town; there are special events to elect the Best Children's Comparsa, the Queen of the Neighborhood, the Best School Comparsa, and more. Finally, the main parades take place on the following Saturday, Sunday, and Carnival Tuesday, along waterfront on Rafael Melgar Avenue. After each parade, you may dance until dawn at the Benito Juarez Park.
Carnival in Cozumel is a very special festival because it is the result of the people of Cozumel. Schools, employees, neighbors, all organize to make their costumes, decorate their cars, and rehearse the dances they will perform. Carnival is truly a community and family event that is deep in the roots of Cozumel.