If you’re in Mérida in December, you’re in for a treat as we take Christmas pretty seriously here. The official Christmas period stretches from Día de la Virgen de Guadalupe (December 12) until Día de los Reyes Magos on January 6; so you won’t be short of Christmassy activities in this period.
For a fun-packed, kid friendly, festive look at the city, why not start your day in, and around, Lucas de Gálvez market where you’ll be able to wander for hours (kids permitting), checking out Mexican Christmas decorations and small gifts as well as all the usual market foods. Don’t forget to grab an agua fresca to keep you hydrated, they’re delicious and perfectly safe as they’re always made with bottled water.
Once you’ve had enough of the market, head out and check out the small stores between the market and Parque Eulogio Rosado, and around the back of the Mérida city museum. Maybe you’ll find some small local souvenirs to take home.
Next up is what my family refers to as “Piñata Street” (Calle 65 x 56 y 54) because it’s basically a street where almost every shop sells piñatas. While it might be hard to get away without caving and buying a piñata, it’s a fun place to walk and the kids will love it. A traditional Mexican Christmas piñata is the pointed star shaped piñata you’ll see all over the place, although many now prefer to go for Santa, a snowman, or a popular kids’ TV show themed piñata.
A 10 minute walk from here and you’re back in the Plaza Grande where the kids can wow over the giant nativity scene that even includes an elephant, before grabbing a much deserved ice cream at either Sorbetería Colón (Calle 61 x 62 y 60) or Pola (Calle 55 #467-D x 62 y 64).
If you then head to Parque Santa Lucia, hidden away in the far corner, behind the stage you’ll find Ki’Xocolatl where you could blow your kids’ minds by letting them have delicious chocolate based desserts for their lunch whilst purchasing some Mexican chocolate or chocolate products to take home for Christmas presents. Ki’Xocolatl was named by National Geographic as one of the finest chocolates oft he world. Don’t forget to pose for the requisite photo in the giant Mérida chairs.
The so-called “remate” (beginning) of Paseo de Montejo is beautifully decorated at this time of year, with an enormous Christmas tree that is well worth checking out both by day and early evening when its lights are switched on. For us, it is this tree that makes us feel truly Christmassy and almost as if we’re back home celebrating in the cold European winter, so bright and cheerful is it in the dark night.
If you’re really ready to celebrate Christmas Mérida-style, then you’ll simply have to take your kids to the Fantasilandia Christmas Fair that is an annual event here. In the car-park of the Chedraui Selecto (Calle 60, near Cordemex) is the fair of your kids’ dreams. Starting on December 1 when the 42 meter high tree is illuminated, the fair runs until January 6, starting at 5 pm every evening. Christmas show December 1 – 23, 7 pm.
Editorial by Cassie Pearse
Photography by Cassie Pearse and Andrea Mier y Terán
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