Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is Latin America’s most famous festival and the Mayan version, Hanal Pixan, is just as colourful. If you’re in Cancun this week there are plenty of ways to celebrate this vibrant festival, whether you want to dine, dance or join in the ancient traditions.
Day of the Dead is as much about death as it is about life and what better way to celebrate life than eating some delicious celebratory dishes?
Cancun’s speciality, Mucbipollo, is a traditional Yucatecan treat which is enjoyed during the Day of the Dead festival. It consists of a chicken tamale-style wrap which is cooked for hours in an earth oven beneath fire-heated stones, giving it its name which means ‘buried chicken’. It’s a complex dish to make at home but well worth a try if you spot it on offer at one of Cancun’s restaurants.
Visit the Isla Mujeres Cemetery
Follow the ancient Dia de Los Muertos tradition and visit the beautiful cemetery on Isla Mujeres to see the colourful decorations and offerings that families bring to decorate the graves of loved ones. Isla Mujeres or ‘Island of Women’ is just a short boat ride from Cancun and has over 2000 graves to visit – just make sure to be respectful of this ancient tradition while you’re there.
Celebrate in Cancun’s Clubs
Cancun is known for its party atmosphere and Day of the Dead brings a whole host of themed nights to attend. Downtown Cancun is the best place to head for a party, with big name clubs like Coco Bongo, The City, and Congo leading the celebratory spirit.
Take a Tour of Cancun’s Underworld
Xibalbá (the Mayan underworld) is a system of underground caves near Playa del Carmen. Take a tour of the incredible natural formations which in Mayan mythology were believed to be the final resting place for the dead, or see the underground river from beneath the waters with a snorkelling session. Don’t miss the incredible Salón de la Paz, or ‘Room of Peace’, where you can watch a stunning light and sound show reflect off these impressive geological formations.
Xcaret’s Festival of Life and Death Traditions
The number one thing to do in Cancun for Day of the Dead is to visit the eco-archaeological park Xcaret for its annual festival. The most popular attraction is the Bridge to Paradise Cemetery which has 365 themed gravesites to visit, each one designed by a different Mexican artist.
There are also shows, workshops, theatre performances, handicrafts, altars, children’s puppet shows, storytellers, films, parades, music, dancing and much more on offer. The celebration is renowned to be the most impressive in Cancun and runs from 30th October to 2nd November, so make sure you book your tickets!