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Magic in Mexico

By HarryFriday 04th November 2016

‘Día de Muertos’, or the ‘Day of the Dead’, is a 3000-year-old ritual, celebrated annually in Mexico to celebrate and pray for loved ones lost. Though many of us find the concept of celebrating the dead morose, the festival is the perfect post-Halloween celebration. Pockets of Mexico transform into a unique explosion of festivity; fire breathers, flowers and delicious food aplenty. Though no two Mexican cities celebrate the Day of the Dead exactly alike, the holiday is usually celebrated on 31st October to 2nd November. If your cruise stops at one of our Mexican docks, we’ve delved into some locations for you to choose from if you fancy getting involved.



sugar skull
If you find yourself alighting at Cozumel, you’ll find islanders rejoicing over the lives of those who they have lost. The belief around this festival is that death is the beginning of a new stage in life, so you can expect warm-hearted celebrations bursting with colour and joy. Bakers on the island create spooky skull-shaped pastries and shrines are covered in flowers – especially Marigolds, or ‘Flor de Muerto’, a sacred orange flower that represents death. Be sure to try the ‘Pan de Muerto’, translated to ‘Bread of the Dead’ – a semi-sweet citrusy bread, covered in sugar. This can be found in most local stores and markets in the weeks prior to the festival. It’s best enjoyed with hot chocolate and serves as the perfect treat on a cold November evening!
Though there aren’t many large parades here that celebrate the Day of the Dead, you’ll find decorated shops, bars and restaurants around town. There will be a number of museums and exhibitions open to the public as well as various cemetery tours. Does a holiday filled with eccentricities and authenticities take your fancy? We offer a number of excursions that visit Cozumel. Make sure to give it a visit when you’re on your spooky retreat!


day of the dead carnival
If it’s a lively atmosphere that you’re after, you won’t find anything more suitable than the ‘Festival of Life and Death Traditions’ in Xcaret Park. Brimming with art performances, dancing and live music concerts, there are a variety of programmes running that are suitable for both children and adults. With over 15,000 people attending the festival on the last day, the event is more accessible than other places in Mexico, so you can certainly expect huge crowds and a lot of excitement! Be sure to plan your route accordingly; the park is huge and can be fairly overwhelming to those who have never experienced it before. Fill your nostrils with the scent of food stalls preparing an abundance of delicious snacks, get involved in traditional folklore dance or indulge in some traditional theatre – It’s the perfect way to learn about the culture and make new friends! We recommend visiting in the evening if you want the eeriest experience. Does this sound like your kind of ghoulish getaway? See our shore excursions to Cancun from Cozumel here.

Quintana Roo

day of the dead cemetry
A few hours from the beaches of the Riviera Maya, you can prepare to indulge in some tasty Hanal Pixán (‘food for the soul’)! Far from the typical tourist experience, the families of Quintana Roo work together to bring gifts and decorations to those who are no longer with them. The community fondly receives visitors during this time of year, welcoming them with open arms in order to share their dedication to the tradition. Altars at cemeteries are filled with fruit and candles, water and portraits. Quite the opposite to the liveliness of Northern Mexico, Quintana Roo offers a more relaxing, insightful experience. Graveyards are well worth a visit; candles scattered around and incense smoke providing a mystic atmosphere and the chance to experience Mexican tradition first-hand.
REMEMBER: Though this is a time for celebration, the ‘Day of the Dead’ is an extremely meaningful day for locals. Visitors must remain respectful at all times.

We offer a number of expeditions and shore excursions that travel via Mexico. If you fancy soaking up the traditions and excitement, then please see our Western Caribbean cruise itineraries here.

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