2019 Carnaval in Chapala and Ajijic

Masked Carnival Dancer

Masked Carnival Dancer

By Carol Wheeler for Go Mexico Way

Celebrated 45 days before Easter (March 5th this year), Carnaval is a celebration of earthly, or carnal pleasures before the austerity and sacrifice of Lent.

It begins on the Friday before Ash Wednesday, and reaches its climax on Mardi Gras — “Fat Tuesday.” Perhaps the most famous festivities are those of Rio de Janeiro and New Orleans. But there are lively celebrations at Lake Chapala, as well as in more than 200 Mexican towns and cities.

Chapala has a long-time Carnaval tradition. The celebrations center on La Christiania park alongside the pier, but the action spreads to other towns on the north shore, such as San Antonio Tlayacapan and Ajijic. and include rodeo events, music and dancing, parades, carnival rides and more.

Masked male dancers known as Sayacos wear wide hats and long beards, while others dress in drag, with wigs, beads and hugely padded breasts. The Sayacos, who throw flour at spectators and passersby, predate the Spanish conquest of 1520.

The  escaramuza  or woman charro, rides sidesaddle in parades and performances.

The escaramuza or woman charro, rides sidesaddle in parades and performances.

DIF on Camino Real in Ajijic’s La Floresta area is hosting classes every Monday, Wednesday and Friday from 4 to 8 p.m. where you can learn to craft your own Sayaca mask. The classes have a cost of 12 pesos (or appromimately 67 cents in US dollars) each.

This year, there will be parades in Ajijic sponsored by the Charro Association (traditional gentlemen horsemen) on the six Sundays preceding Carnaval, beginning on February 10. They begin behind San Andres church on the plaza and proceed along Hidalgo to Las Seis Esquinas and end at the Lienzo Charro. On March 5, the parade begins at 9 and takes Ocampo and Constitucion to Seis Esquinas, then ends at the plaza. There are parades every day with Sayacas and bull riding in the Lienzo Charro.

Look for concerts, too. These are scheduled for La Christiania park in Chapala. The costs will vary.

Friday, February 22: Inaugural Parade and bad mood burial (entierro del mal humor)

Saturday, February 23: Pancho Barraza

Sunday, February 24: RapFest - Aleman

Sunday, February 24: Bailazo Masivo (massive dance) - La Original Banda El Limon

Monday, February 25: Lucha Libre World Wide (wrestling)

Tuesday, February 26: Teo Gonzalez, Queen Contest

Wednesday, February 27: Festival de la Radio Grupera

Thursday, February 28: Wapayaso’s y Horripico’s

Friday, March 1: Alfredo Rios El Komander

Saturday, March 2: Bailazo de Feria (dance of the fair) - Banda Los Recoditos, Alta Consigna

Sunday, March 3: Chapalazo en Lodo (mud truck racing?)

Sunday, March 3: ElectroFest - Student Fest

Monday March 4: Enanitos Toreros

Tuesday March 5: Gran Bailazo de Cierre (big closing dance) La Arrolladora Banda el Limon de Rene Camacho. Chuy Lizarraga y banda Tierra Sinaloense

Lake Chapala Realty