Carnaval is one of Ajijic’s most entertaining holidays, featuring the town’s traditional masked “sayacas,” who throw flour and chase the kids who taunt them during the town’s seven parades.
Pre-Carnaval Events in Ajijic
Carnaval in Ajijic lasts seven days and is spread out over three weeks, but due to the Catholic liturgical calendar, those exact dates vary year to year.
In 2019, Carnival — spelled Carnaval in Spanish and otherwise known as Mardi Gras north of the border — occurs on March 5. But the real events in Ajijic start four Sundays before with weekend parades that begin at 10: 30 a.m.
Here’s a video of the start of 2019’s Carnaval in Ajijic from earlier this month:
All the parades are organized by the town’s charros (cowboy) association, so there are lots of horses, cowboys and Ajijic’s unique tradition of the crossing-dressing masked sayacas, who chase kids through the street and throw flour at the crowds.
Here is the 2019 parade schedule:
- Sunday, February 10
- Sunday, February 17
- Sunday, February 24
- Saturday, March 2
- Sunday, March 3
- Monday, March 4
- Tuesday, March 5 (Carnaval)
Pre-Carnaval Parade Route
The pre-Carnaval parades start at 10:30 a.m. at a house on Galeana behind St. Andrew’s Church. It heads to the plaza, and then to Seís Esquinas (Six Corners) along Hidalgo, before turning east and heading to the town’s bullring via Constitución/Ocampo. (Constitución, like the other east/west streets in Ajijic changes its name to Ocampo once you cross Morelos).
Below is the parade route for the pre-Carnaval parades.
After the parade, there’s a reception and lunch on the malecón, to which you are invited. There’s music, some people dancing, drinking, eating, lots of fun. Fiesta time.
After that, check out the jaripeo rodeo in the lienzo charro at 4:30 each day. With two exceptions, the cost for the event is just a small donation. $50 pesos per person might be suggested. The event costs $100 on Sunday, March 3, and $120 on Tuesday, March 5.
Local and sometimes out-of-state bull riding teams put on a show while a banda plays tunes all evening. The crowd slowly trickles in and by 6:30 or 7:00 the place is filled. It wraps up around 10:00.
The lienzo charro is the bull riding ring, located just east of Plaza Bugambilias on Calle Revolución:
Carnaval Day Parade Route
The parade route for this day is different than the one pre-Carnaval parade route above.
The parade on Carnaval starts at the foot of the tianguis, where market day takes place, and proceeds west on Constitución/Ocampo. Once the parade reaches Seís Esquinas, it turns east and heads to the plaza along Hidalgo.
Recent Photos from Carnaval 2019 in Ajijic
There’s a photo essay after these photos with more information about what goes on during Carnaval in Ajijic.
Last updated March 2, 2019
Photos of Carnaval
The Masked Sayacas of Carnaval in Ajijic
One of Ajijic's unique traditions are the sayacas, who form a core part of the town's Carnaval celebrations each year.
In the Lienzo Charro After the Pre-Carnaval Parades
Each of the five pre-Carnival parades ends at the town's lienzo charro. The best translation might be "bullring," but this is a ring for riding bulls, not killing them.
At the end of the parades, kids and sayacas chase each other for about 15 minutes. Kids who successfully escape the sayacas' attack get enormous roars from the audience, which on some days reaches 1,000 people. (The Sunday before Carnaval is always the most popular day with the most sayacas.)
Carnaval Day in Ajijic, Mexico
Carnival in 2019 is March 5. This parade is different than the five pre-Carnival parades that come before. It has lots of floats, lots of spectators and lots and lots of flour.