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Updated: May 10
For the first time since the pandemic, state and local government gave the go-ahead for the returning of La Paz Carnival, and what an event it has been!
I enjoyed my first Carnival experience in 2020, but I felt like this year’s celebration had a certain depth to it, different from others. I was happy to see all the street food and carnival games, but I was more excited to see how they celebrated the local culture of Baja California and Baja California Sur!
During the night parades on Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, MCs on the concert stages shared information about the historical and cultural meaning of the floats passing by. Many of these incredible pieces of rolling art contained symbolism from the Pericues, the original indigenous people from the southern region of the peninsula, escorted with dancers and performers dressed in red and black (which are associated with this tribe’s distinctive cave paintings colors).
Others promoted the celebration and protection of our precious marine habitat, which probably gave rise to the La Paz that we all know and love today. I even heard MCs taking the opportunity to stand out a 10-meter-long whale shark made of plastic bags and single-use plastic water bottles, highlighting the city’s recycling abilities (I recently saw at the corner of the streets Abasolo and Colosio, a new bin for depositing separated recyclables).
One of the incredible MCs narrating the parade.
Overall, the floats themselves were magnificent, but the attention and care that the organizers used to educate, inform and entertain, won my heart!
Oh, and another really cool thing to see was that the municipal police and the carnival volunteers were wearing purple armbands, identifying themselves as “safe spaces” in case of women experiencing any kind of violence or aggression during the festival. In addition, “Stop the Violence” campaign started approximately a month ago, denouncing the violence of gender against women and girls in Baja California Sur. The organizers of the Carnival of 2023, made a good job ensuring that everybody could attend to this crowded and potentially rowdy event, secure and safe for everybody.
With security and safety along the Malecon, I was able to focus on the fun! After all, the theme selected for this year was “Peninsula de la Alegría” or in english “Peninsula of Joy”!
A fun and sparkly marine-themed float.
At the end of the parade, I spend the evening strolling the vendor booths, ride zones, musical stages, carnival-style games, and street performances. So many lights, sounds, smells, and sights… a heterogeneous sensory mix, for sure.
The musical guests did not disappoint us (not only talking of the pros, but what appeared to be a children talent show at the stage near the skate park on Nicolas Bravo; had the most adorable, talented tiny humans!). The night I was there, the big musical guest was Matisse, a 3-piece band composed of 2 artists from Baja California and 1 from Sonora. With 2.41 million followers on YouTube, you can imagine the energy coming from the crowd! People that attended on Friday night festival, could enjoy the artist who will receive the BMI Icon award of the 2023 Latin Awards, for her 30-year career in Regional Mexican music – Ana Barbara.
At any of the headliner shows, for the first time in the history of La Paz, 500 lucky fans got the opportunity to purchase VIP front-row seats. Depending on the artist, tickets were selling between $1000 and $3,500 pesos. However, the 2023 Carnival kept its commitment of entertainment accessible for everybody, so besides this new VIP section and the regular open audience space, there were also free raised platforms for people with disabilities. They were able to enjoy the shows in comfort. Thumbs up, La Paz!
The G-Force ride was the biggest and the best one.
My ultimate joy of the night (as a self-confessed adrenaline junkie) was the G-Force, a crazy-tall spinny-ride with the other “adult rides” in the empty lot beside the Bismarkcito restaurant. So tall! So fast! And positioned very close to the neighbouring ride, just for that extra jolt to the heart rate! At $150 pesos for a 60-second ride. It wasn’t the most economical experience of the night, but was definitely a highlight! For those who wanted the view without the fear of death, a Ferris wheel seemed to give riders a pleasant experience as well (*yawning*, lol, kidding).
I loved the 2023 La Paz Carnival: Peninsula of Joy, and the event was clearly a success. Everybody I passed by, young and old, were smiling. A job well done.
If you missed out this year, just make sure you don’t make the same mistake in 2024!
By: Terri Lynn Manna