Monday July 22 2024

Posted by on January 05, 2023
  • Carnaval La Paz 2023
    Carnaval La Paz 2023
  • The City of La Paz welcomes you to the greatest party on the peninsula - Carnaval La Paz.
    The City of La Paz welcomes you to the greatest party on the peninsula - Carnaval La Paz.
  • The main stage at Carnaval La Paz during the coronation of the queen of Carnaval
    The main stage at Carnaval La Paz during the coronation of the queen of Carnaval
  • The Carnaval La Paz parade is a family production
    The Carnaval La Paz parade is a family production
  • It brings out the very best in the community
    It brings out the very best in the community
  • Carnaval La Paz Parade floats
    Carnaval La Paz Parade floats
  • La Paz carnaval parade
    La Paz carnaval parade
  • Stuffing your face at Carnaval La Paz is one of the fine points of the week.
    Stuffing your face at Carnaval La Paz is one of the fine points of the week.
  • The presentation of the candidates for 203 King and Queen December 2022
    The presentation of the candidates for 203 King and Queen December 2022


Updated 01/25/23 After a two-year hiatus as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and post-pandemic civic financial woes, plans are in the works for a Carnaval La Paz, 2023. In 2023 Carnaval should run from February 16th to 21st. The 2023 theme is Peninsula de Alegria - Peninsula of Joy.

Jaidy Michel has been selected as Queen of Carnaval La Paz 2023

Without a doubt Carnaval has been the grandest event on the La Paz social calendar, drawing hundreds of thousands of people each year.  

Following the western Christian Easter Calendar Carnaval traditionally ends on Fat Tuesday, the day before Ash Wednesday. This means Carnaval can end as early as February 3 and as late as March 9th, so the 2020 Carnaval will be at end of La Paz's winter weather so temps could be moderate to brisk for activities along the Malecon. If you're looking to make hotel reservations you will probably have difficulties after January 1. 

Click here for the program of Main Stage performers for Carnaval La Paz 2023

How Carnaval Almost Wasn't

Carnaval has certainly become more sophisticated since my first one, 19 years ago. The last farm tractor-hauled float was replaced in the parade some years ago, floats became more artistic, headline acts became top drawer and the whole thing just kept getting bigger. Almost too big for the small city of La Paz. It seems hard to imagine, but in 2013, we almost saw the end of Carnival. 

The bill for Carnaval 2012 exceeded $ 880,000 USD for the City of La Paz. With the constantly rising expectations, each year's committee felt the need to raise the bar. Carnaval events lead to national TV broadcasts of some of Carnaval La Paz in 2010. It didn't lead to big 'Nielson Numbers' and it hasn't happened since. 

What to expect at Carnaval La Paz 

If you come to Carnaval La Paz expecting bead tossing, drunken debauchery, and things popping loose you might have to cover the young one's eyes for, it is not that kind of Carnaval. It is a family event, with more modest parades, food booths, and cultural events. Attended by a cross-section of Baja California Sur, it is most popular with young people between the ages of 'tweens to early 20s. 

There are aking and a queen and some of the most beautiful women and a handful of men in La Paz come out of the woodwork to compete for this honor. Becoming Carnaval Queen or the King of Joy (Traditionally the title is "King of Fools") can be a big thing for a young person in La Paz. 

This year will be the first that transgender persons can compete for the roles of king and queen of Carnaval. In 2018 Baja California Sur joined the majority of progressive states in Mexico authorizing same-sex marriages, 

The job has its demands as well as the royal court not only is present during every night of Carnaval but also visits the jail, orphanage, and old folks home to bring the spirit of Carnaval to those that can't attend. Coronation of the King usually takes place following the burning of Bad Humor in effigy on Thursday night. The queen and her court are crowned and presented on Friday night. 

Taking the crown is serious business in La Paz. In 2010 it was rumored that a family member of the Royal Runner-Up let the air out of the tires of the Queen's float because she felt the reigning queen had cheated to gain her throne. But who knows, it was just a rumor, but it held up the parade for nearly 40 minutes. It is estimated the 2019 Carnaval cost the city more than 16 million pesos (about $850,000 USD) 

The Carnaval Parade 

The parade nights always bring out the best crowds around 5:30 PM (Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, the last three nights) and the float costumes are about as racy as things get in this family town. The Gay community has its good share of the fun with Carnaval and some of the best floats in the parade are entries sponsored by that community. The parade traditionally starts from alternating ends of the Malecon. Sunday night it begins at the southwest end, at the intersection of Marcus de Leon. 

On Monday night it begins at the northeast end of the Malecon near the Windmill and the beginning of the divided roadway. On Tuesday night it returns to the southwest end of the waterfront. The parade start times use to be one of the greatest Carnaval jokes, but in the last several years the event has started promptly. Things are still up in the air for 2020 with a desire to include more of the city than just the Malecon area.  

The main stage is located near the kiosk (bandstand) on the Malecon at the foot of the 16th of September. This is where the Burning of Bad Humor in Effigy takes place to officially open Carnaval, most of the nightly performances take place, and where the coronation event is held. Things start to fire up about sunset, with the main events on the stage taking place after 8 PM and dancing to live and loud music that continues to about 2 AM nightly. Stages featuring various musical acts from around Mexico and locally that cover much of the musical spectrum and range from 'pretty good' to 'why isn't someone recording these guys'. 

There are plenty of Carnaval trinkets and some little thing always ends up being the defining piece of junk for the year, ranging from hand-launched helicopters to glow-in-the-dark mustaches. 

There are booths selling specialty bread, margaritas, and tacos, and the smell of Carnaval food drifts over much of lower La Paz for almost a week. The booth space isn't cheap and many social organizations that count on funds raised during Carnaval to sustain them through the year have squealed about the increased fees.  

There is a reading, opening night and again on Sunday, by the winning poet laureate in "The Game of Flowers or Florals". The Game of Florals goes back to 169 B.C.E. Roman times when a competition was held for the street poets, troubadours, and bards where the winner was awarded a golden flower encrusted with gems, of which to give the lady of his choosing. The competition was dedicated to the Roman goddess Flora and is most likely the origin of the term, 'to use flowery words' 

You can't miss the blanket auctioneers. Selling blankets like they aren't going to make anymore tomorrow, these guys sell combination stacks at breakneck speed. With home-modified microphones blaring through sound systems Jimmy Page discarded four decades ago, you soon discover that every phrase in Spanish ends in an "S". Yet there are those ardent blanket buyers who stand there, right in front of the speakers, waiting patiently for the auctioneer to package the "Elvis" bedspread with the Winnie the Pooh comforter, then lose his mind and lets them sell for the ridiculous price of $180 pesos. (I found the prices a bit better than retail, best on the last two days of the carnaval) 

Children's Carnaval 

Children's Carnaval will be on Sunday, Feb 26, 2023, with a special Kids Parade, junior Carnaval rides, and special entertainment for the youngest set. 

Election of the Queen and King of Carnival  

The election of the royal court is based on how much money they raise for the event. With donation boxes bearing their name and photo, votes are counted in pesos and result in a correlation. Despite the means of election, the resulting Queen of Carnaval usually has no shortage of 'guapa'.  

The King of Carnaval has often been a proud representative of the local gay community. In 2012 the King of Carnaval was seen as a little too 'queen' and pelted with items from the parade crowd 

until he was obligated to retire from the float mid-parade. This prompted the 2013 ban on throwing things at the parade float. Throwing items at the parade marchers is now a ticketable offense. This year transgender persons will be able to compete for the respective titles.


Carnaval Safety 

The press of the crowd, particularly near the bottleneck of the central stage can be intimidating. But the jam is usually handled in a friendly and laughing manner where you may sometimes find your feet leaving the ground for several meters of forward motion. 

 Just like any mass gathering, Carnaval attracts those that prey on crowds, pickpockets, and petty thieves don't miss Carnaval La Paz either. Local "rateros" (the word is not "banditos") are joined by migratory mainland professionals, so keep a good hand on your cameras and keep what you take with you to a minimum. Police and the Mexican military keep a pretty tight wrap on things and descend quickly on even the slightest sign of trouble. 


The down-side of Carnaval La Paz 

Without a doubt, Carnaval benefits commercial interests in La Paz and particularly the businesses closest to the action. It also interrupts life and businesses in the area that do not benefit from the increased t

raffic and disruption. For drivers in La Paz, the Malecon will begin to be obstructed on Monday, February 13, and be closed on Wednesday 15th as the final setup takes place. Traffic will remain restricted through Wednesday, Feb 23 as clean-up continues. 

 Traffic flow along the Malecon from Marquis d

e Leon on the southwestern side to the Molina (windmill) on the northeastern end. Effectively crossing town after 8 PM will require traveling several blocks inland. The streets are swept daily during Carnaval and the mess seems to evaporate by about 10 AM daily, but it takes through the following week and Kid's Carnaval for some of the mechanical rides and booths to disappear completely from the Malecon. 

A few days before, the week of, and after Carnaval are nearly always sold out well in advance at the better hotels. However, in the past two years, La Paz has added more than 500 new hotel rooms, so it may not be too late yet to make your reservation. Travel to La Paz for Carnaval

 Your Invitation 

It's a piece of Baja California Sur folks, if you're in the area, don't miss out. If you miss out, we'll see you at the next Carnaval, we hope!


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