Veracruz is ready to kick off its 96th annual carnival with dances, concerts, giant robotic floats and even a parade at sea in the coastal city February 19-25.
Parades are the heart of the modern version of this festival of excess leading up to Ash Wednesday, which begins the six-week penitence Catholics observe before Easter.
With dance troupes, baton twirlers, drum groups, floats and squads of costumed characters, the Veracruz carnival is fun for the whole family.
The 30 floats and 50 dance troupes registered for this year’s parades will feature everything from traditional dances to colorful plumed headdresses to characters from Star Wars.
Between February 22 and 25 five parades will cavort to and from Veracruz and Boca del Río along the Manuel Ávila Camacho coastal boulevard. The five-kilometer parade will last about 3.5 hours.
This year’s theme for the parades is iconic cities and destinations around the world. The float for the queen of the carnival is inspired by Cairo, Egypt, and the king’s float is based on Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
The floats all feature robotic elements, lights, elevators and other special effects. Even more spectacular will be the four monumental animatronic figures so large that they must be transported with heavy equipment.
A giant robotic samurai warrior and a three-meter-tall King Kong are among the gargantuan figures unique to this festival.
Bleachers along the parade route will provide space for 120,000 revelers, including spaces for people with disabilities. Tickets for the bleachers cost 90 pesos (US $5) on Saturday and Sunday, February 22 and 23. There is no charge on Monday, February 24, and on the 25th they’ll cost just 10 pesos.
The Veracruz carnival has stood out in recent years for its nautical parade. A total of 500 people, both residents and tourists alike, will board five boats to sail around the bay entertained by salsa dancers and the festival’s king and queen.
The nautical parade is free of charge, but places on the boats are given on a first-come-first-served basis, so hopeful attendees will have to arrive early to get a spot. It is scheduled for 9:00 a.m. on February 22.
The carnival will also feature such traditional events as the coronations of the king and queen, as well as the quema del mal humor (burning of the bad mood), a ritualistic torching of a giant likeness of a derided figure or theme in the community.
It will also feature concerts by such renowned artists as Banda El Recodo, Emmanuel y Mijares, Gloria Trevi and Mario Bautista, and there will be a joke battle as well.
The concerts will be held on the Macro Plaza, on the malecón (coastal boulevard), and all are free of charge.
Although the Veracruz Carnival is now a family affair, it wasn’t always so. Carnival in the city actually dates back to the 18th century, when raucous troupes of dancers tore through the streets to the rhythm of Cuban music.
They displayed mojigangas, figures that satirized the dominant classes, and often behaved in manners deemed too licentious for the public sphere. It sometimes got so out of hand that, for example, during the reign of Emperor Maximilian, the festival was ordered to take place inside dance halls.
The celebration in its current form began in 1925, when the first organizing committee and the parade-style festival as it is now known were created.
Source: El Universal (sp)