Day of the Dead – Playa del Carmen, Xcaret Park
While many of the ancient cities of Mexico lay claim to having the best “Day of the Dead” celebrations, here in Quintana Roo the place to be is Xcaret Park for their annual “Festival de Vida y Muerte” or “Festival of Life and Death”. Every year from October 31st to November 2nd, the park is transformed, candles and torches light up the paths, aromatic “copal” smoke permeates the breeze, stunning altars grace the grounds and music and dance performances create beautiful spectacle.
The central theme for this edition is the Ix´tabay, mythical character of the Mayan culture represented by a beautiful woman, who, according to the legend, appears to men at night, when walking alone and takes them with her.
Make-up booths are spread around the park, allowing guests to paint their faces like the traditional “calaveras” (painted skulls). A children’s pavilion invites kids to participate in workshops, creating jewelry or playing traditional games. Food stands serve tamales, mucbipollo, tortas de cochinita, hot chocolate and churros. The festival is worth the trip for the food alone.
Xcaret Park honors this great tradition that in 2003 was declared a masterpiece of oral and intangible heritage of humanity by UNESCO, and every year during five days the Festival of Life and Death Traditions takes place.
The Festival of Life and Death Traditions is a patchwork of color, music and tradition with an extraordinary and greatly varied program of activities for children, young people and adults, all revolving around the Day of the Dead or Hanal Pixán in the Mayan world.