The sea port city of Veracruz is situated south east of Mexico City on Mexico’s Gulf coast. The Spanish conqueror, Hernan Cortes landed at Veracruz in 1519 and made it the first Spanish settlement in Mexico, and later conquered the Aztecs. Veracruz was also the final stronghold of the Spanish in these lands, before they were expelled some three hundred years later.
Veracruz is a very prosperous state in Mexico, with its wealth stemming mainly from the continuous docking of trade and cargo ships at its strategically-located ports, and its rich, fertile lands growing coffee, fruits and tobacco.
The people of Veracruz – Jarochos – are known for their easy going and cheerful disposition. With their Afro-Caribbean roots and exuberant nature, Jarochos love to party and all-year round, and the atmosphere in the port city is one of leisure, music and laughter.
It’s therefore no surprise that Veracruz hosts one of the best carnivals in the world – competing with Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. It is considered the “Happiest Carnival in the World”.
The Carnaval de Veracruz was first held in 1866, during colonial times when the country was ruled by Emperor Maximiliano. The ever-cheerful Jarochos requested permission from the Head Prefect, Domingo Bureau, to celebrate the “Fiesta de Mascaras” – mask and disguise parties that were held in the main social centers of the time, such as theaters and ballrooms, wherein locals gave free rein to their high-spirited nature.
Although the parties were held exclusively in the ball rooms, on the way there people would parade in the streets and would be cheered on by those standing on the sidewalks. Domingo Bureau obtained permission to celebrate the street carnivals and the tradition of the Carnival Parades was born. Since the beginning of 20th Century the Carnaval de Veracruz has grown in nature and size, and is now organized by a formal Committee.
The annual carnival is scheduled to begin nine days before Ash Wednesday and the beginning of Lent, so the exact dates change each year.
For nine days the port city of Veracruz and its visitors enjoy a true public fiesta – with colorful parades, music and festivities. The Carnaval starts with the burning of “Bad Moods” and ends with the burial of Juan Carnaval. During the carnival, locals and visitors enjoy magnificent dances, disguise parties, fireworks, great food, arts and crafts, and listening to the traditional music of harps, marimbas and guitars.
This is a great time to visit the port of Veracruz – rich in history, tradition and, of course, good humor and parties. As with all major events in Mexico – it is a good idea to book your hotel in advance as they fill up during the Carnaval season.
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