Celebrating Day of the Dead at Xcaret – What is it like?
Each year Xcaret puts on a four day event for the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos). What is it like to attend the Day of the Dead at Xcaret? We set off to show you both in video and to describe the event in this article.
Xcaret is known as a large park that promotes the history, culture and natural beauty of Mexico for tourist visiting the Riviera Maya. For four days a year (October 30th-November 2nd) this park becomes more a focus on the Mexican traditions and celebration of death. Each year this holiday seems to get bigger and more culturally promoted in Mexico and at Xcaret.
This year is no exception and Xcaret put a major emphasis on advertising this event. Because of this, many people are saying this years event is much more crowded than in the past. Because so many people are attending it is hard to get around the park and actually focus on seeing what the Day of the Dead celebration is.
If you do go to Xcaret for the Day of the Dead you can see the park decorated in marigold flowers, alters, candles and small shows throughout the park during the evening hours. They also have some big name entertainers that come and do concerts. This years big event is Lila Downs.
The Day of the Dead festival at Xcaret is not a somber look at death but rather the celebration of how the traditions in Mexico celebrate life and death in colorful ways. In fact the atmosphere inside of Xcaret is rather like a carnival with street venders selling food, small shows and families with energetic kids happy to get their faces painted and see inside the park.
Our video introduction to what it is like to visit Xcaret for the Day of the Dead
Since describing the Day of the Dead at Xcaret in words is one things, we made this video to show you a little more about what it is like.
How much are tickets to Xcaret for the Day of the Dead?
Xcaret offers three tickets on their website. Here are the three ticket types they are offering.
- Xcaret Admission. This includes a regular entry for Xcaret and you are able to spend the evening also looking at the events with the Day of the Dead. This ticket is $99.00 USD for adults and $49.50 for children.
- Xcaret Plus. This is entry for the day to Xcaret Park and a buffet lunch. In the evening you are able to attend Day of the Dead activities. The price of this ticket is $129.00 USD for adults and $64.50 for children.
For locals and residents of the Yucatan Peninsula there are special prices on tickets. Now you can buy your tickets here for 2017. Buy the day and get FREE entrance to Day of the Dead festivities!
What is it like to attend the Day of the Dead at Xcaret?
- Be prepared for it to take more time to get into the park. This event is so heavily attended it creates a lot of traffic. Many non tourist go to this event, so that means people drive here instead of take the bus transportation to Xcaret. Overflow parking lots are opened for this event. Since some of these parking lots are far from the entrance, Xcaret provides buses to shuttle you back and forth. It took us one hour to get from the center of Playa Del Carmen to the main entrance gate of Xcaret
- The park is packed with people. Not only are people attending the park for the day but around 4:30pm people start coming for the Day of the Dead event at Xcaret. So many people are let in that it becomes hard to walk around the park.
- Since many of the shows are smaller venues, you have to arrive early because they fill up and you might not be able to see it.
- Kids will like the painting stations so they can get their faces painted. There are activities for children during the four days that Xcaret runs this festival.
- Events start at 3:00pm and go to about 10:15 each day of the festival. You can get a guide of all the events inside of Xcaret Park. There are also signs with the times and locations of events.
- There are special food stands throughout Xcaret during the Day of the Dead festival. Some of these will offer authentic Mexican food. Bring money for the food.
- It is impossible to see all the events that are offered in a night. It is better to glance over the guide and pick a few.
Our recommendations for visiting Xcaret during this event
If you are looking to visit Xcaret for the park itself and not the Day of the Dead celebration we recommend not going to during these for 4 days because you will not have the same experience as visiting the other times of the year.
If you do want to go during this time period to Xcaret for the Day of the Dead, be prepared for crowds and just plan on seeing some of the events. It is more of a local carnival or fair feeling inside the park. This is a more family oriented event with activities like face painting. Adults that are looking for a more cultural event might get a little overwhelmed with the crowds and remember more the packed park rather then a look into the beautiful traditions of Mexico.
This events gives many locals a chance to get into the park at a discount rate or with ticket giveaways.
If you do go, we recommend arriving early or later in the evening when the mass rush will not be entering. Of course it is more interesting visiting at night with the candles ad it becomes more magical.
To see other celebrations and events during this same time period in and around Playa Del Carmen, see our article here.
What is Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead?
The festival of the Day of the dead or Dia de los Muertos is a fusion of ancient religions and Catholic faith. In our area you can see elements of the Catholic faith and the Mayan celebration of Hanal Pixan.
Day of the Dead is an interesting holiday celebrated in Mexico during November 1st and 2nd. This date coincides with the Catholic holiday called All Soul’s and All Saint’s Day. The holidays have been combined with ancient beliefs of honoring their deceased loved ones. This also coincides with the celebration of Halloween (see our gallery of photos for what all three of these holidays look like in Playa Del Carmen)
People believe that the gates of heaven are opened at midnight on October 31st, and the spirits of all deceased children are allowed to reunite with their families for 24 hours. On November 2nd, the spirits of the adults come down to enjoy the festivities that are prepared for them.
On November 2nd families go to the cemetery to continue the celebration. Families will paint the tombstones and sit in the cemetery. Here people will listen to music and talk about passed loved ones. Perhaps it is these traditions that keep the family unit so strong in Mexico.
A store in Playa Del Carmen selling items for Day of the Dead.
How the Day of the Dead is celebrated in local villages
In most Mayan villages, altars are made at each home. They are decorated with candles, flowers, fruit, tamales, candy skulls and Day of the Dead bread called pan de muerto. The items on the alter are to appease the spirits and show respect for the deceased. Candies and trinkets are left for the children’s spirits, and on November 2nd, more adult items are left like shots of mezcal or bottles of beer are offered to the adult spirits. You will see grocery stores in Mexico selling candy coffins, skulls and bread during this time that people will buy and add to alters. To see how Mayan communities celebrate the this holiday see our article here about Hanal Pixan.
Have you been to Xcaret for the Day of the Dead? What did you think? We would love to hear from you in the comments below.