Mérida's city parks: Free live music concerts and cultural activities
There's something going every night in Mérida! The municipal office of tourism puts on a free concert series: Monday night at 9:00 pm, in front of the Palacio Municipal (City Hall) by the Grand Plaza, there's a "Vaqueria", a celebration that originates from the 18th century, when wealthy ranch owners would put on huge fiestas during branding time. For the occasion, traditional Yucatan dances are performed by the Ballet Folklorico de Merida to the music of a live orchestra.
On Tuesday night at 8:30 pm, there's a show called "Musical Memories" at Parque Santiago, just a few blocks west of Grand Plaza along Calle 59. This show features Big Band music from the 1940s performed by a live orchestra and is mostly attended by locals who gather every week to dance the mambo or cha-cha-cha. Even though we couldn't join them, it was great fun to watch!
Wednesday night is the one quiet night in the week so you might want to rest up for the upcoming weekend. On Thusday night, starting at 9:00 pm at Parque Santa Lucia, only three blocks north of Plaza Grande along Calle 60, there's a show called "Serenata Yucateca". This trova music show has been performed by a live orchestra every Thursday night for over 40 years!
On Friday night, we very much enjoyed watching the game of Pok-ta-Pok (Mayan ball game) in front of the Cathedral, starting at 8:00 pm. The customs and traditions surrounding this ceremonial ball game are well explained, and the players really get into it!
Unfortunately, we had to spend Saturday night in Cancun to catch our flight back home, but if you're lucky enough to be in Mérida on that night, you have the choice between attending another live music show called "El Corazón de Mérida" at 9:00 pm in the Plaza Grande area, featuring jazz, salsa and trova music, or going to the "Noche Mexicana" event (that would have been my pick!) starting at 8:00 pm at the Remate of the Paseo de Montejo (at the corner of Calle 47). A stage is set up for the occasion and music or dance groups from all over Mexico are invited to perform. Booths are also set up for handicrafts and food merchants.
Finally, all day long on Sunday, the entire Centro area is taken over by an event called "Merida en Domingo". Booths selling handicrafts, clothes and plenty of food are set up in Plaza Grande, and the portion of street stretching in front of the Palacio Municipal turns into a gigantic dance floor in the evening. So much fun! And did I mention that all of these activities are free?
Dress Code: N/A
- Arts and Culture
- Historical Travel
Pasea Montejo: Carnival Parade
Just like the first Carnival parade we saw in Campeche, Carnival parades in Merida are madhouses. People stand 8 deep and you have to be at the parade route over an hour before the parade starts to reserve a reasonable view.
At the parades we viewed, normally participants throw out stuff to the crowds -- most often candy, but also T-shirts and other such stuff. It can take hours to get away from the parade once its over due to all the people.
In Mexico, most cities and towns have carnival parades. There are parades for almost two weeks before the big finale - on Shrove Tuesday I think. As we were in Mexico at the end of February in 2006, we saw kids practicing for the parade in Chetumal, two parades in Campeche (although one was on TV), two parades in Merida (although we left before the second one started), and one in Progreso.
One issue, for the parades in the big cities, if you are not interested in the parade, you have to realize that you will not be able to pass through the parade route during or just before the parade - a total of two hours. We decided we had had enough of parades, and tried to cross the parade street a half hour before the parade, and only because we were lugging our suitcases, did the police let us onto the parade street to cross.
By the way, one of the few times I wish I had my film SLR camera was while taking pictures of the night-time parade; I took many pictures of the parade, but not many came out with my digital compact camera.
On Saturday and Sunday evenings, Mérida comes alive with music -- bands are set up in the streets - in front of restaurants, in the plazas. The bands almost have to play extra loudly to drown out the band in the next block.
All in all it is a great atmosphere, and fun to wander around. The photo I've used was taken at Noche Mexicana - at a park about 10 blocks from the main plaza. It was cool - reminded me of music one traditionally sees in Mexican movies.
Nighttime Serenades in Merida: Nighttime Serenades in Merida
During the summer, there is a concert held each Tuesday at the Parque Santiago. Inquire about this at your hotel. I had the opportunity of listening to a Big Band concert. If you're into music and concerts, make sure you pick up a local newspaper to read about the many free or inexpensive cultural and musical shows offer in Merida.
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Club/ Disco: VATZYA
Definitely no.1 Club/ Disco in Merida. You can find here as well local people and tourists.
Dress Code: Casual/Clubbing. Nothing too fancy.
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