The Candelria Festival started with the arrival of first MONKS from THE SAN JUAN de DIOS order , in the early 1600s.
The Candelaria Virgin was used to convert the Indigenous inhabitants to Christianity, by replacing the Prehispanic Fertility Deity, who was celebrated on the same date…February 2ND.
These days the festival begins January 31ST, and continues until February 9TH.
The Candelaria Festival begins on the afternoon of January 31ST with the parade on horseback of 100s of the townspeople, young and old, dressed in traditional costumes.
The festival in its present form is mainly a music festival.
The”SON” or “SON JAROCHO” music was influenced by the music coming from Venezuela in the 18TH century and from Cuba in the 19TH century.
Musicians from all over Mexico and around the world gather in TLACOTALPAN, VERACRUZ for this yearly event.
A huge outdoor stage is erected, with lighting and sound. The different groups ( 50 to 100 ) take turns playing and singing their versions of the “SON”, continually for over 24 hours.
On street corners and in parks, platforms are placed, for impromptu gatherings of Fandango dancers and players of the “SON JAROCHO”. You can find this kind of spontaneous display day and night throughout the coming week.
Bulls running in the streets..
6 bulls are transported ( swimming ) from one side of the river to the other and into a corral. One at a time ( usually ) they are let loose in the streets. Total mayhem is the only way to describe what follows ! There are secure viewing locations, and cowboys on horseback with lassos to rein in the bulls and keep the damage to a minimum !
But , of course, “MACHOS” and drunks with something to prove, run in the streets to challenge the bulls. Sometimes to their detriment and screams from the crowd.
There is also the “MOJIGANGA”. A costume parade.
Originally it was a carnival-like atmosphere when the locals of all classes could hide behind masks and intermingle, creating mischief, without being recognized.
Today, the children’s handmade costumes in the parade are a photographers dream, and true works of art. This is a “must-see” at the festival.
There are also carnival rides for the kids, a rodeo, cock fights, and a major contemporary MEXICAN band on an outdoor stage, playing till dawn.
You can also participate in the traditional “DANZON” , evenings in the Zocalo, and watch spectacular fireworks.
Then there is the FOOD……..after all, whats a festival without lots of food and sweet munchies. RIGHT ??
There are many stands selling speciality items from different parts of Mexico and , of course, the wonderful seafood restaurants along the RIO PAPALOAPAN. All local fare: Fish, Blue Crab, Octopus, and great SHRIMP and shrimp cocktails. And for the adventurous, you may be invited to someones home for turtle soup.
Lets not forget the many booths of fresh baked bread & rolls, Cinnamon swirls, and all that homemade candy. If you find thats not enough, there are also the carts selling homemade ice cream !! YUM.
The population of TLACOTALPAN doubles during the festival, especially for the first 3 days.
Most hotels are booked a year in advance. Many residents open their homes to rent rooms and some rent entire houses for the festival. And as you will see in a picture below, some travel to the festival with tents and sleep in the parks.
We at CASA DE LA LUZ have a list , and photographs, of rooms and houses we would recommend to rent and can put people in touch….as we, at the CASA, are booked by mid August.
The non-stop party atmosphere of the first 3 days slowly winds down…to a second running of the bulls on the closing day, February 9TH. ALL EVENTS ARE FREE
Come to Tlacotalpan this next January and party with us. You will never forget the experience ! Guaranteed !
Below are some photos and a few links to a YOUTUBE video.
YOU TUBE: Type: “Candelaria Tlacotalpan 2008” or “Toros Candelaria 2008” in the search box. There are a lot of choices to view.
HAVE YOU BEEN TO CANDELARIA IN TLACOTALPAN ? —SHARE YOUR EXPERIENCES IN THE COMMENT SECTION. THANKS, BILLDELALUZ.