carnival in Veracruz Crowds throng the parade route at a previous version of carnival in Veracruz.

Virtual carnival in Veracruz to cost economy at least 250 million pesos

Organizers abandon hopes to hold a non-virtual event

For the first time in its 96-year history, the city of Veracruz will celebrate its annual carnival virtually due to Covid-19.

“To protect the health of all,” as the festival’s official website puts it, “the 2021 Veracruz Carnaval will arrive at your home.”

Event organizers debated for months before deciding against an in-person event, said Veracruz Mayor Yunes Márquez.

“… it was impossible to do an in-person carnival, impossible to do it in February, and also impossible to do it in the summer,” he said. “We had the hope that vaccinations would happen faster, but the reality is that … vaccination is happening extremely slowly. The responsible thing to do is to not make it an in-person event.”

The festival, which will take place February 25–28, joins countless other festivals across Mexico that have adopted a virtual format in 2020 and 2021 in order to avoid spreading the coronavirus. It also follows the lead of other 2021 festivals in Veracruz state going virtual this year, including the annual Candelaria (Candlemas) festival earlier this month in Tlacotalpan and the upcoming Cumbre Tajín festival this spring in Papantla.

Carnival committee president José Antonio Pérez told the newspaper Milenio that the virtual version will involve several recorded videos, using footage from previous years to create various profiles on former years’ parades, the previous kings and queens of the festival, and costumes used by participants in previous events. The festival will also name an honorary king and queen.

The change to a virtual event, say organizers, will cost city businesses an estimated 250–300 million pesos in lost visitor revenues.

Last year, according to the Veracruz city government’s website, the event attracted a total of more than 1 million attendees, with 135,000 people alone attending its parades, bringing a total of 260 million pesos to city businesses. Hotels reached an average 86% occupancy that weekend, according to the Mexican Association of Hotels and Motels of Veracruz-Boca del Río.

However, Veracruz also faced daunting Covid-19 numbers: the city has seen 10,843 Covid cases, more than 20% of the total number of cases statewide. The state is currently at the high-risk orange level on the nation’s coronavirus stoplight map at least until February 14.

Source: Milenio (sp)

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