Merida is considered to be the cultural capital of the Yucatan Peninsula. It is a town steeped in equal parts Mayan culture and colonial history, with narrow streets, broad central plazas and the region’s best museums. It’s also a perfect place from which to kick off your adventure into the rest of the state of Yucatan. There are cheap eats, good hostels and hotels, thriving markets and events happening regularly somewhere in the downtown area.
Every night, there are a variety of things to do in Merida, the historic center invites you to join in a memorable cultural evening on Mondays, when there is a show of Yucatecan “jaranas”, a traditional folk dance, right in front of the City Hall; while on Sundays two bands liven up the evening to the rhythm of son, salsa and cumbia.
There are also theatrical, dance and film shows in other cultural venues, such as the Merida Theater, located just a few steps from the Main Square. Moreover, halls, museums and art galleries have multiplied in the city, offering an array of activities and events to suit all tastes. Music concerts cover all genres, from classical to jazz, through rock and romantic ballads. Art shows range from the traditional to the innovative, and there are also art cinemas, art workshops, literary events, conferences, popular outdoor balls, and much more.
Contemporary art in Merida can be most easily viewed at the ‘MACAY’, Merida’s contemporary art museum. Housed in the former armory, just across the passageway from the Cathedral, the MACAY has a small exhibit of some local artists, and a revolving array of exhibits of artists both local and international. Downstairs at the museum on Sundays you’ll find a lively music event around noon in the central gardens.
Sculptures from Mexico grace the sidewalks in front of renovated turn-of-the-century Mexican haciendas. Music is well represented in Merida, with everything from “trova”, the Yucatan’s special rendition of romantic ballads, to opera and classical music. The Yucatan Symphony Orchestra continues to grow with each season. Tickets are a fraction of what a similar event would cost in most cities and can usually be purchased on the day of the event.
Merida is essentially a year-long cultural festival, recognized as a step away from the Mayan ruins of Tulum and Chichen Itza, where celebrations and lively traditions always arrive on the back of a colorful spectacle.