Valladolid Living / Candelaria Fiesta in Valladolid

Candelaria Fiesta in Valladolid

Candelaria Fiesta in Valladolid

30 January 2010 CULTURE, Valladolid Living 10

Editors Note: This article was written by guest writer Kim Romans.

Celebrating Virgen de la Candelaria

Halfway between Merida and Cancun is the lovely colonial town of Valladolid. Every year for 12 days the city honors its holy patron, the Virgen de la Candelaria (Virgin of the Candle). The fiesta, called the Valladolid Expo-Feria (expo-fair), is a combination of religious ceremony and an agricultural exposition and fair. From cowboy boots, crockery and prize winning bulls to barbeque, carnival games, performers and a midway, Valladolid’s Expo- Feria entertains and delights.

By night, the fairgrounds are so crowded in some areas with vendors and visitors that they are barely passable. If you want to avoid the crowd while you experience the best of the Expo-Feria, visit in the late afternoon and stay until early evening. A small entrance fee is charged at the fairground gate.

Beyond the fairgrounds, drop in at the Iglesia de la Candelaria. You’ll find it on Calle 44 at 35. Plan your visit and you’ll catch one of Candelaria’s processions, where the virgin tours Valladolid’s various churches and schools. The processions are a colourful opportunity to visit different parts of this recently renovated colonial city.

Maruja, a cafe on the plaza grande, is a great place to rest and grab a coffee or an iced drink before heading to the fairgrounds. Its outdoor tables under the colonnade are perfect for catching a breeze and people watching. The cafe is currently displaying a private collection of Mayan sculpture reproductions called La Mujer en el Arte Maya (Women in Mayan Art). Look for Maruja at the corner of Calle 41 and 40.

Valladolid’s Expo-Feria usually happens in late January or early February. For more information, check out the website (in Spanish).

Candelaria: Valladolid’s Holy Patron

There is little information about Valladolid’s holy patron. Candelaria’s legend tells of a slave who, while returning to town from the jungle, encountered a white lady carrying a baby and a candle. She asked the slave to build her a lean-to for her son. The slave built the shelter for the woman and then continued on his way. The story goes that when the Hacienda’s steward heard the tale, he went to investigate and was awed by the image of the virgin. He recounted the story to the landowner, who ordered the construction of a room for the virgin. Today’s church is said to contain this original room.

A chance encounter added to Candelaria’s legend. According to Valladolid native Don Gil, the town was in the grip of the black plague. But after the appearance of Candelaria, the plague ceased. It was a miracle and Candelaria remains forever in the hearts of Vallisoletanos.

Boots, Bulls and BBQ

Wondering what is there to do at the fairgrounds? Here are a few suggestions. Tour the bulls and sheep in the livestock area. Sit on a saddled bull: this little Vallisoletana demonstrates just how easy it is. Peruse the vendor stalls for crockery, local honey, cowboy boots and hats. Try one of the carnival games.

Valladolid is ranching country so cowboys and barbeque are abundant. Thick slabs of marinated beef and pork sizzle on open grills in the food stalls surrounding the big tent. Plumes of aromatic smoke rise and disperse among the crowd, luring customers to awaiting tables. Treat yourself to late lunch with a local specialty like arrachera — a marinated beef.

Look for an assortment of food, entertainment and ample shade in and around the big tent. The big tent hosts the shows, music and has plenty of seating. To find it, you can meander through the Expo-Feria, but for a more direct route, take the path on the left just inside the main entrance. It passes the livestock area. Continue straight, and turn right at the path just before the entrance to the bull ring on your left.

For those who have a taste for the ring, bullfights are held daily. In 2010, Rejoneadores Rodrigo Santos and David Cesa appeared, with matadores Jose Luis “Angelino” and Manolo Martínes, for instance. A ticket cost about $200 pesos for adults. Be sure to sit on the left of the ring; it gets the shade first and your back will be to the sun.

The fair grounds, which are on the outskirts of town, are close to the bus station* and a $15 peso taxi ride to or from El Centro ($20 pesos in the evenings).


  • dotti 11 years ago

    Does anyone have an agenda/timetable for this celebration in 2012? Mahalo from Hawaii.

  • asher 13 years ago

    Candelaria- Significado del nombre

    Candelaria nombre femenino de origen latino "Candela", vela; su significado es "Aquella que purifica con la luz".

    Historia y el Santo:
    Candelaria surge de la celebración de la Fiesta de Presentación del Señor en el Templo y la purificación de la Virgen en el día 02 de febrero, el nombre tiene su origen en las velas o candelas que los fieles llevaban en la procesión. Cumpliendo la ley judía las madres de los primogénitos varones debían cumplir con un ritual de purificación llevando a sus hijos al Templo cumplidos los 40 días desde el nacimiento del niño. La fiesta de la Candelaria la estableció el emperador bizantino Justiniano I.

  • Cous, 13 years ago

    Enjoyable read, sounds lovely.....wonderfully done.

  • Elvira Jimenez 13 years ago

    It is also a tradition to take the "baby Jesus" trinket found in the Rosca de Reyes to the nearest church on Dia de la Candelaria, the person that found it is blessed and also has to throw a party and provide food and drinks!

  • Kattina 13 years ago

    I was in Valladolid, this fiesta to honor Candelaria Virgin takes place every year 12 to 14 days before Feb 2nd, wich is the last and the biggest celebration day, since is Candelaria´s day. Don't forget to stop at the "Tequilería" you'll find the best brands at 41st, only 2 blocks from the down town church. It's called "Poncho Villa"

  • James 13 years ago

    This is a beautifully written article. Give me more like this one.

  • Working Gringos 13 years ago

    The twelve days are almost over.... ends February 2 this year.

  • John 13 years ago

    12 days====but for which 12 days?

  • Adri 13 years ago

    Thanks, Yucatan Living. What a beautiful article. When I was a little girl growing up in Puerto Rico, we always celebrated "La Fiesta de la Candelaria" on February 2nd. This was a time to make bonfires, light candles, and have people gather together. I loved reading about the festival in Valladolid. Sounds like an amazing opportunity to experience new things and connect with others in the spirit of community, with candles, storytelling and in the process honor sacred traditions.

  • Alan 13 years ago

    Tip of the hat to Yucatan Living! Before looking here, I searched and searched for program info, just could not find the link YL has to the actual Feria program, even though I had been to the same general website. Valladolid tourism officials, take a look at how YL makes your information accessible!

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