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March 6, 2023

Tepoztlán Carnival, 2023

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Setting up a booth at Carnival, 2023 Photo by author


Carnival in Tepoztlán is a big production. The population doubles from added celebrants during this four day event, with the focus in the town Centro. A lot of work is involved in setting it up and cleanup afterwards. It brings in a lot of income to the community, but also generates problems mostly stemming from drunkenness.

In different parts of the world, this holiday is celebrated in different ways. Even within Mexico, the customs vary. For example, the costumed dancers, Chinelos, are only seen in some parts of the country. They are featured in Tepoztlán.

My online Oxford gives this as the origin of the word Carnival: ”from Latin caro, carn- ‘flesh’ + levare-'put away.'”

Carnival is a time of permitted excess to unwind before the austere Lenten season preceding Easter. The roots of this Western Christian holiday trace back to ancient European festivals, such as the Greek Dionysian or the Roman Saturnalia.


Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Top: letters as they were in the Zocalo (central plaza); Bottom: the jazzed up verison prepared before Carnival 2023. Photo by author

Although Carnival in Tepoztlán runs officially for only four days, a considerable amount of time goes into setting it up beforehand and taking it down afterwards. The series of photos below chronicle the preparations. Notice that I have included some photos showing how the areas look during normal days, and I also document taking structures down to clear a space in the market plaza for dancing groups (Chinelos), and putting up booths on the main street to sell food and drink. The last photo shows the decoration of a side street away from Centro, that is near a major church.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Setting up for Carnival, 2023: Top, a main street prior; Bottom: Setting up for Carnival 2023 on the main street. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. The main street during Carnival 2023 Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Breaking down and removing the market plaza to prepare for Carnival 2023 Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Top: the market plaza prior to Carnival; Bottom: the market plaza cleared and ready for Carnival 2023 Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. A side street away from Centro installs decorations. Photo by author

The Chinelos

Here's a short video of a preliminary dance the day before the start of Carnival 2023:

Mexican's have a keen ability for spoofing or making fun of Europeans. This is evident in La Catrina seen during Day of the Dead. Just as this personage mocks the wealthy European class in Mexico, so does the Chinelo mask and outfit.

Next is a video of the Chinelos assembling, from four different groups, each with their own band, in the cleared space of the market plaza.

You may have noticed in the video that each group has their own flag, which they wave furiously all throughout the dancing. Some groups have a totem animal. In the photos below this is clearly seen.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Carnival 2023, Top: two different groups with their flags; Bottom: one group has a frog mascot. Photo by author

The mask and costumes are quite elaborate. It gets hot inside. It is always a good idea to have some help in arranging the robes.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Carnival 2023, It's good to have a friend help arrange the complex Chinelo costume. Photo by author

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Carnival 2023. Chinelos in their costumes. Top right: an intricate design adorns the back of one's robe. Photo by author


For four days, the dancing ensues--four to five hours each day. Notice that the four different groups, each with its own band, is sectioned off with rope. One wonders how they can survive the heat under their masks and heavy robes. Does drinking a lot of beer help?

If you want to see more, please check out my earlier article on fiestas, scrolling down to the last section.

Tepoztlán, Morelos, Mexico. Carnival 2023. There are some amusement park rides, too. Photo by author


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I will post them here with your name unless you ask to be anon.



Well done, Don.

-Barry Rosssinoff


Thanks, Barry