Located in the heart of Mexico is an entertainment concept that is more than a simple theme park. Xcaret Park is an eco-archaeological destination that goes beyond the mundane to transform itself into the heart of Mexican culture. Here families, singles and couples steep themselves in the mysteries of the ancient Mayans while they explore and appreciate the rich history of Mexico itself. Approximately 47 miles south of Cancun in the tropical Riviera Maya, Xcaret features over 200 acres of entertainment, food and adventure. More than themed rides, Xcaret builds on the heritage of the pre-Columbian Mayans to surround guests with tradition, education, entertainment, and knowledge. Unforgettable daily shows mingle with yearly celebrations to immerse visitors in nature, history and fun.
Perhaps the best-known of the yearly observations is the Festival of Life and Death Traditions, held from October 30 through November 2 every year. The park just wrapped up its tenth anniversary of the event in 2015, and already has plans well underway for the 2016 celebration. Based around Mexico’s traditional Day of the Dead, this ritual looks at passing from this life as simply being part of a natural cycle which is to be honored and celebrated rather than feared. During this time Mexicans traditionally celebrate their departed loved ones, erect altars in their homes, visit cemeteries, and eagerly await their return. At Xcaret these events are recreated through exhibitions, altars, concerts and shows, workshops and the Hanal Pixan ritual – food for the souls.
Much of the festival centers on the Mexican Cemetery at Xcaret. Although it may seem strange to include a cemetery as part of a theme park, Xcaret uses it to honor the past while still employing a bit of humor. The Bridge of Paradise symbolically links life and death. There are seven levels representing the days of the week, 365 graves for the days of the year, and 52 steps on a staircase for the weeks. The spiral stairway represents the conch shell, which was used to communicate with the ancient gods through the wind.
While Xcaret has been raising the dead in a Festival of Life and Death Traditions, it is still a theme park that manages to both keep a keen eye on the future while remaining deeply rooted in the past. Another yearly tradition observed just recently is Posadas Xcaret. Held every year from December 16 through 24, this is a holdover from Mexico’s sixteenth century friars. Recreating the tradition of Mary and Joseph searching for an inn, Posadas Xcaret includes typical star-shaped piñatas, fireworks and delicious Mexican food.
Looking ahead while still looking back is the upcoming Sacred Mayan Journey, held on May 22 and 23, which recreates one of the oldest known traditions in the Mayan culture. Every year the Mayans made a canoe pilgrimage to the island of Cozumel to worship their goddess, Ixchel. Xcaret recreates this inspiring cultural event with accomplished rowers, music, and dance.
In addition to the yearly events, the history and culture of Mexico are celebrated on a daily basis at Xcaret. A Mexico Espectacular show features a newly re-imagined scenario, technology, costumes and set to take visitors on a tour through Mexico’s illustrious history. An unforgettable Equestrian Show features Mexican charros and adelitas performing stunning choreography with the most beautiful of horses. For even more spine-tingling entertainment, the Voladores de Papantla perform feats of aerial acrobatics high above the ground. In an homage to the four winds, four Voladores (flyers) climb to the top of a pole which they are tethered to by ropes. They launch themselves from it as if they are birds taking off in flight and gently alight on the ground. A Mayan Village surrounds visitors in the life, arts, and food and entertainment of the ancient Mayans. The perfect ending to the perfect park is to visit the underground Vino de Mexico Wine Cellar for a look at more than 400 years of wine-making in Mexico.
As if that is not enough, the park also boasts a unique natural setting. Guests have the choice of exploring three underground rivers which introduce them to an amazing assortment of marine and land species, and explain the conservation programs the park manages to protect them all. Celebrating all the regions of México through culture, music, food, history and entertainment, Xcaret Park gives a proper nod to life, death and the rich history of a memorable country while regaling modern-day guests with a fun-packed adventure.