Mexican Caribbean festivals you don’t want to miss this summer

Experience Mexico’s vibrant culture first-hand at these unmissable Mexican festivals

Summer holds a special place in our hearts, especially because it is when some of the best Mexican festivals take place. Turn up the heat on your travel plans and head to the homeland of tacos and tequila for uninterrupted fun. From religious feast days to trendy music festivals, there are so many ways to soak up the vibrant, colorful culture of Mexico. So, pack your bags, it’s time to jet off to Mexico and lose yourself in its must-see celebrations. Not sure which ones to choose? Here are our top picks for some fun in the sun while visiting Quintana Roo.

Sacred Mayan Journey, one of the best traditional festivals in Mexico

When: May

Where: Playa del Carmen, Cozumel and Xcaret

What: Want to travel back in time? The Sacred Mayan Journey (Travesia Sagrada Maya) in Quintana Roo, Mexico is your best bet. The interactive cultural festival in Mexico is a multi-day reenactment of the ancient pilgrimage made by the Mayan people from Playa del Carmen to Cozumel. It was a 36-mile journey that brave souls made in hand-carved canoes, which they undertook to consult the oracle of Ix Chel, the goddess of fertility. The event concludes with a grand return to Xcaret, the site of the Mayan city of Polé.

French festivals in Mexico - La Fête de la Musiqueue

When: June

Where: Playa del Carmen

What: Kick off summer officially in June with La Fête de la Musique, one of the many extremely fun Mexican music festivals that take place every year. Organized by the French Consulate in Playa del Carmen, the festival offers a c’est magnifique evening of live music, French cuisine, fine wine and good times. Pack your beret and get in on the action! Bonus: all proceeds go towards a local charity.

Visitors will love strolling through the elaborately adorned streets during the Mexican festivals

Holidays celebrated in Mexico: Festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul (Día de San Pedro y San Pablo)

When: June

Where: Cozumel

What: Experience one of the most fascinating religious Mexican festivals in Cozumel, celebrated every year at the end of June. The Festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is held in honor of two of the most important Christian saints. 

The Festival of Saint Peter and Saint Paul is held in honor of two of the most important Christian saints

The event usually features a family-friendly fair, with great food, carnival rides, fireworks and much more. There’s also a gotta-see-it traditional spectacle known as the "Dance of the Pig's Head."

Riviera Maya events for nature lovers: Whale Shark Festival

When: July

Where: Isla Mujeres

What: Did you know: whale sharks are the world’s largest fish, growing up to 40 feet long and 47,000 pounds?! And if you’re visiting the Mexican Caribbean from June through September, you can experience these incredible creatures in their natural setting. The best way to do it? The Whale Shark Festival, of course. This is one of the most important festivals Mexican nature conservationists have seen. Located off the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, the beautiful Isla Mujeres is home to the largest population of Whale Sharks in the world. And these gentle giants are celebrated every summer. Over the course of several days, you’ll have the chance to swim (in a respectful way) with whale sharks, join in traditional dancing, enjoy local food and work by local artisans and snorkel and dive the incredible reefs surrounding the Island

Get up close to whale sharks on the crystalline shores of Isla Mujeres

Check out this cool Cancun music festival: International Festival of the Caribbean

When: July

Where: Cancun

What: The International Festival of the Caribbean celebrates everything there is to love about the culture, music and dance of the Caribbean. This is one of the only Mexican festivals that features performances from artists from all over the region, as well as workshops and seminars on Caribbean history and culture. You can also sample delicious Caribbean cuisine and shop for authentic Caribbean crafts.

Mexican Independence Day Festival

When: September

Where: Throughout Mexico

What: Never mind Cinco de MayoMexican Independence Day (Día de la Independencia) is when Mexico really celebrates. Commemorating the momentous day when priest Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla called on Mexicans to rise up against the colonial government of Spain in 1810, Mexican Independence Day is celebrated each year on September 15-16 and is one of the most famous festivals of Mexico. You’ll enjoy a colorful parade, mariachi bands, a festive fiesta and deliciously authentic eats. 

You’ll enjoy a colorful parade, mariachi bands, a festive fiesta and deliciously authentic eats

(Mexican Independence Day Tip: Don’t miss the Chiles en Nogada, a stuffed poblano, walnut cream and pomegranate dish that is a Día de la Independencia favorite.) Guests also have easy access to the celebrations taking place in Playa del Carmen – the famed Fifth Avenue overflows with revelers, and the park in front of City Hall (between 8th St and 10th St and 15th Avenue and 25th Avenue) is the site of the official Independence Day festival.

Mexican festivals and celebrations at Chichen Itza: Autumn Equinox Festival

When: End of Summer

Where: Chichen Itza

What: One of the original Mexican festivals? In some ways, it’s true. The Mayan people celebrated the end of summer each year in Chichen Itza, via a remarkable feat of astrological genius. Right around the first day of fall, the setting sun casts a shadow upon the iconic Pyramid of Kukulcan or Kukulkan. It creates the illusion of an enormous snake slithering down the staircase. Then, the shadow meets up with a sizable stone serpent head at the foot of the pyramid. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience to see this ancient ritual take place. And today, the occasion is marked by a fun festival, with light shows, live music, and traditional food and drink. This vibrant event has quickly turned into one of the most important Mexican holidays to enjoy when on vacation. 

Dance the day and night away at the Riviera Maya Jazz festival

Attend one of the most famous Riviera Maya concerts: Riviera Jazz Festival

When: End of November to December

Where: Playa del Carmen

What: If you are planning on visiting Playa del Carmen during the end of November, you are in luck! The Riviera Maya Jazz Festival is in town and is set to provide a lively soundtrack to your vacation. Let the toe-tapping beats that float on the warm Caribbean breeze guide you to the best white sand beaches so you can enjoy world-class names performing in the paradisiacal surroundings of the Riviera Maya. For the last 20 years, this music festival in the Riviera Maya has been pulling in the crowds, proving that this event really cannot be missed.

Day of the Dead Festival, Mexico (Dia de los Muertos)

When: November 1-2

Where: Throughout Mexico

What: We all have an image of the famous Mexican festival of The Day of the Dead in our minds, but living in person is a whole other experience. This is a vibrant and colorful Mexican celebration held every year on November 1-2. Families and friends gather together to celebrate lost loved ones and honor their existence. It is believed that during these days, the spirits of the deceased return to the world of the living to be with their loved ones. You can expect to see elaborately decorated altars adorned with flowers, candles, food, photos and personal items from loved ones who have passed on. Parades, concerts and other festivities take place making this one of the most popular Mexican festivals across the country. 

The Day of the Dead festival is a must-see if you plan to visit Mexico in November