Every day of the week in Mérida there is a free and fabulous cultural event to check out. Make sure to arrive early to secure yourself a good spot as the turn out tends to be high. Events are popular with visitors and locals alike. It is obvious that genuine pride in local culture and history runs through the weekly timetable of events. Yucatecans are extremely proud of their heritage and the clear delight in being able to share it with visitors is a joy to behold. While being able to speak Spanish will be useful at the events, all can still be enjoyed without doing so. If you do speak Spanish, you’ll be able to be amused by the explanations of local traditional dress and dance styles as well as the poetry and jokes that accompany the events.
Monday: Vaquería, Plaza Grande (9 pm)
The week’s cultural events begin on the Plaza Grande with the Vaquería, a traditional dance style brought by the Spanish and taken to the heart of Yucatecan culture. The dancers are all dressed in stunning traditional clothing and watching their feet dance in a blur is always my favorite part of this show. If you speak Spanish you’ll also enjoy the tradition of the “bomba,” a comedic, rhymed patter between each dance.
Tuesday: Remembranzas Musicales, Parque de Santiago (8:30 pm)
If you want to see Mérida at its happiest, this open-air free-for-all dance is an absolute must. Watch young and old dance together to live music, join in the dancing, and grab a bite at the famous Parque de Santiago.
Wednesday: Video mapping, Casa Montejo (8:30 pm), and Cemetery Tour, (8 pm)
On Wednesday you can head to the cemetery (Calle 89-A x 66) at 8pm for a guided tour (in Spanish) or you can sit on the Plaza Grande and watch a free video mapping presentation outside Casa Montejo (which is a museum by day, and an art installation on Wednesday nights). The interaction (subtitled) between Francisco de Montejo and a Maya leader is a moving piece of theatre that highlights that Mérida was first a Maya city and that it owes so much to the Maya culture.
Thursday: Serenata, Parque de Santa Lucía (9 pm)
Without a doubt, this is the most popular night of the week. I have never seen Parque de Santa Lucía as busy as it is on a Thursday night. I recommend getting there well before 9 pm or even grabbing a table at one of the many fabulous restaurants on the square. The evening is full of joy and music in the form of different bands, singers, and dancers. Different acts are presented each week, but with the same format: the orchestra and dancers, followed by a trio, poetry, and a solo performer.
Friday: Piedras Sagradas, Catedral San Ildefonso (8:30 pm)
Video mapping is something that México truly excels at. If you’re out and about in Centro on a Friday evening enjoying the pedestrianization of town, be sure to stop by for the beaming of a potted history of Mérida onto one of the oldest cathedrals in the Americas.
Saturday: Pok-ta-Pok, Catedral San Ildefonso (8 pm), and Noche Mexicana, Remate de Paseo de Montejo (8 pm)
The Pok-ta-Pok demonstration (a traditional Maya ball game) is very popular and seats get snapped up early. Watch men using their hips, knees, elbows, and shoulders to hit a ball through a small, circular goal in this difficult, pre-Hispanic game. Once you’re done here, walk to the Remate Paseo de Montejo to enjoy music and dancing at the Noche Mexicana until 11:30 pm. You can browse the street markets on your way.
Sunday: Biciruta, Paseo de Montejo and Centro (8 am -12 pm), and Mérida en Domingo, Plaza Grande (8 am – 4 pm)
On Sunday mornings, roads are closed to traffic from La Ermita de Santa Isabel to the Monumento a la Patria at the top of Paseo de Montejo. Rent a bike, walk, or skate to explore Mérida’s Centro at a leisurely pace. Stop to enjoy the busy market set up for Mérida en Domingo on Plaza Grande before continuing to the cute Parque de La Ermita.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Photography by Cassie Pearse for its use in Yucatán Today
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