Local traditions in Cozumel

El Cedral

The Festival of Santa Cruz and El Cedral Fair is a historical tradition held in the town of El Cedral, in the south of Cozumel Island at the end of April. This annual event is said to have been started over 150 years ago by Casimiro Cardenas. Cardenas was one of a group that fled to the island from the village of Saban, on the mainland, after an attack during the Caste War of Yucatan in 1848. The attackers killed other villagers, but Cardenas survived whilst clutching a small wooden cross.

Legend has it that Cardenas vowed to start an annual festival wherever he settled, to honor the religious power of this crucifix. Today, the original Holy Cross (Santa Cruz) Festival forms part of the wider Festival of El Cedral, which includes fairs, traditional feasts, rodeos, bullfights, music and competitions. The celebrations last about 5 days in all and are held every year at the end of April or beginning of May.


The Cozumel Carnival or Carnaval de Cozumel is one of the most important carnaval festivities in Mexico. It has been celebrated as a tradition beginning from the late nineteenth century and fills Cozumel´s streets with parades. It begins the week before Mardi-Gras in February. Cozumel´s Carnaval is a tradition which has been passed down through many generations that celebrates a mixture of cultures that escaped to the warm embrace of Cozumel. Dating back to the mid 1800s, Cozumel Carnaval was started by young people dressed in vibrantly colorful costumes known as Estudiantinas or Comparsas, who expressed themselves in the streets of Cozumel through the artforms of dance, song, and fantasy

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