Looking to get a little closer to the sun while also getting closer to your spirit? Tiptoe among Mayan ruins and glassy Caribbean waves to become steeped in the vibrant, colorful culture of Mexico’s Riviera Maya.
There are many cultural, traditional and fun events taking place in the Riviera Maya throughout the year. Of course, the Riviera Maya is famous and beloved for being a luxurious, bejeweled stretch of Mexico’s Caribbean coastline. The region’s spas, nightclubs, high-end shops and glamorous visitors require no introductions. It’s true that modern glitter paints a distinctive sheen over what was once a port city of the Mayans.
However, anyone who is visiting today should devote time to seeking out the traditional events that make this place so spectacular. Take a look at five cultural events and attractions that are not to be missed in the Riviera Maya!
The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
Three magical days in November turn the Riviera Maya into the jazz capital of the planet each year. The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is an annual event that takes place on beautiful Mamita’s Beach in Playa del Carmen. This is the ultimate opportunity to groove to some sounds in an out-of-this-world setting. Thousands of visitors have poured into Playa del Carmen each year to enjoy the festival since its debut in 2003.
In fact, it is estimated that about 9,000 to 15,000 music fans come to dance, relax and let loose each night of the festival. The jazz festival lasts for three days at the end of November each year. Event coordinators build an incredible stage every year to accommodate all of the acclaimed acts that roll into Mexico to perform.
The list of previous performers at the Riviera Maya Jazz Festival includes Earth, Wind & Fire, Tower of Power, the Manhattan Transfer, Sergio Mendes, Marcus Miller and Level 42. The event is free for guests.
The Frida Kahlo Museum
The Frida Kahlo Museum in Mexico City is known as La Casa Azul by locals. You’ll be able to spot the museum based on its vibrant cobalt exterior. The Frida Kahlo Museum has been transformed from Kahlo’s lifelong home into a world-class museum that celebrates and showcases the trailblazing artist’s life and works.
You can roam the halls and grounds of this 10-room museum to view a stunning collection of Kahlo’s art, photographs, memorabilia and personal items. Much of what you’ll see remains relatively unchanged from the way the property looked when Kahlo passed away in the 1950s. Kahlo was actually born in the home.
She eventually lived in the home with her husband before passing away on the upper floor in July of 1954. This humble residence of an inspiring, rule-breaking artist is now one of the most visited attractions in all of Mexico City.
In fact, roughly 25,000 people visit the home monthly! One of the best times to visit the Frida Kahlo Museum is during October. The museum routinely hosts open-mic nights where visitors are invited to get up on stage to share spooky stories in anticipation of Halloween.
The Akumal Pueblo Art Festival
Street art meets the beach at the Akumal Pueblo Art Festival each year. This annual event celebrates art and community by bringing together artists and lovers of art from around the world. More than 100 local, regional, national and international artists participate in the festival each November.
What is special about this event is that it strives to really make the visiting artists part of the Akumal community while the festivities are taking place. Property owners in Akumal make this possible by donating their residences to visiting artists during the event.
This gives artists from around the world opportunities to become intertwined with the local community as they create artwork and murals in the spirit of the festival. The large murals that are created during the festival are left behind to serve as inspirations for local students and other members of the community.
Carnival and Fat Tuesday in Puerto Morelos
Puerto Morelos is a small Mexican port town that is mostly known for its dazzling offshore dive sites. In fact, Puerto Morelos Reef National Park is one of the best spots for diving in the Riviera Maya. This small town is also known for being the breeding site of Caribbean sea turtles.
However, things are anything but quiet once Carnival rolls around. That’s because Puerto Morelos hosts fun Carnival celebrations that are thrilling and authentic! Visitors can look forward to food, drinks, parades and live music during Carnival season!
Three Kings Day (El Dia de Reyes)
Anyone who is visiting the Riviera Maya during the first week of the year is quite lucky. That’s because Jan. 6 is one of the most celebrated days in the region. In fact, many kids in Mexico look forward to Three Kings Day even more than Christmas! Three Kings Day marks the day when Mexican Catholics celebrate the arrival of the three wise men and their gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh following the birth of Jesus.
It will be hard to miss this celebration anywhere you go throughout the Riviera Maya. However, there is one very particular way to celebrate. Get yourself to a local bakery to pick up some rosca de reyes. Delicious rosca de reyes is a special oval-shaped cake filled with fruits and nuts.
The person who finds the tiny plastic baby hidden in their slice of cake will have a good year ahead! Three Kings Day is also a day when families all throughout the Riviera Maya enjoy traditional corn tamales and hot chocolate. Get ready to eat!
Enjoying the Culture and Beauty of the Riviera Maya
One day in the glorious Riviera Maya will make it clear why this is one of the most popular and enduring resort spots in the world. There’s certainly nothing wrong with focusing on world-class cuisine, high-end shopping and relaxing spa treatments while staying at luxury villa rentals in Riviera Maya.
However, carving out some room in your itinerary to celebrate the traditional culture of the Riviera Maya can create a truly full and satisfying travel experience! There’s simply no place on the planet where tradition and luxury intertwine so perfectly!