Every year around February, the island turns upside down. The streets are dressed for the occasion and filled with dancing. Cozumel's Carnival is the most important carnival in the southeast of Mexico. Not as big and famous as the one in Maztlán or Veracruz but with the magic of the Mexican Caribbean and the warmth of the people from Cozumel.
History tells us that the Carnival festivities originated from ancient rites devoted to the Gods of wine and flesh. Through time it has been banned in several epochs and countries because of the excesses of the festivity. Carnival is held the two weeks before lent and culminates on Carnival Tuesday, just before "Ash Wednesday" which marks the beginning of a time of religious meditation.
In Cozumel Carnival festivities last for two weeks, but preparation for those two weeks has been going for several months. During that time those pwilling to participate begin forming their comparsas, designing their costumes, selecting music and the dances they will perform during Carnival.
A couple of weeks before the election ball, where the queen and king are elected, the town begins to warm up. The candidates begin to campaign on the radio and in the streets, trying to convince people to vote for them. During these two weeks at the Benito Juarez park you may find typical food and many things to buy at the many stands that are on the plaza for this occasion.
Finally, the election day for the queen and king arrives. In a big party, normally on Saturday, all of the candidates perform their show with their full comparsas. Anyone who attends the event may vote for the candidate of their choice.
The next day the new queen and king of Carnival are presented in a public performance at the Benito Juarez park. By this day Carnival is in full swing in Cozumel. During the week after the election, the comparsas perform all over town. Special events are held to elect the best children's comparsa, queen of the neighborhoods, best school comparsa, and many more.
Finally on Saturday, Sunday and Carnival Tuesday the carnival parades take place along Rafael Melgar Avenue on the waterfront. After the parades you may dance until dawn in the Benito Juarez park and the plaza infront of City Hall.
Carnival in Cozumel is a very special festivity because it is the result of the interest and the will of the people of Cozumel. Schools, employees, neighbors all organize to make their costumes, to dress 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.