When it comes to things to do in Cancun, some are downright cheesy. Things like Aztec game reenactments are fun with the right mindset, so I was ready to embrace the tacky at Xcaret’s dinner show (the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular) near Playa del Carmen.
Xcaret is the original “eco-archaeological park” in the Riviera Maya and the best way I can describe it is a Mexican Epcot. It’s a huge park with attractions like a re-created Mayan village, cemetery, folk art museum, zoo, aviary, butterfly garden, and more. It would take all day, if not two, to see it all.
Separate to standard Xcaret tickets are seats at the nighttime Xcaret Mexico Espectacular. You can add this evening show to your daytime admission or buy just the show ticket without theme park entrance. If you plan on doing both anyway, Xcaret packages will save you a few bucks compared to buying each separately.
But first: let’s chat about this dinner show that tells the story of Mexico’s history and then showcases music, dance, and traditional clothing from different regions of Mexico.
Xcaret at Night
This is a massive production that takes place on more of an arena than a stage. My evening began with being seated for dinner, which was served throughout the performance. Converted bleachers with cushions were a surprisingly comfortable place to eat and watch the performance and it was hard to believe that a 6,000-seat outdoor theater could be accompanied by a classy meal. All in all, dinner includes three courses — soup, chicken entree, and dessert plus drinks — all of which were the best banquet food I’ve ever had.
Soon, the lights were lowered, and musicians, dancers, and other performers took the stage to tell Mexico’s story in the first act. Starting with a game of “Pok ta’ pok”, or hip ball, a group of athletic performers played a millenia-old game played with a large rubber ball bounced by hip from player to player through a hoop. As someone who has traveled to Mayan ruins, this re-creation was easy to visualize in its natural setting and brought history to life.
The performance continued with beautiful dancing and an incredibly spectacular rendition of Uarhukua, or “fire ball.” With a burning wooden ball that represents the sun, players used wooden sticks to attempt to get the ball into the goal. It’s a flaming version of hockey and one that had me gasping at times. This was shaping up to be compelling rather than the cheesy expectations I had set earlier.
The act continues with Mexico’s story, depicting the brutal conquest of the Spaniards and the oppression that indigenous peoples faced. You’ll witness the Catholic mission and the coming together of two cultures through the mixing of their music and you’ll identify with the tragedy of Mexico’s plague and racism in the sixteenth century.
The story continues through the Mexican Revolution in the early 20th century and culminates with a vignette on modern Mexico. With 300 performers all in period costume, special effects, and high-quality music, you can follow along with the story despite the lack of narration. This is truly a tribute to Mexico’s past.
After intermission, our dinner continues and so does the show. The second half focuses not on Mexico’s history, but on its music, dance, and traditions. The different regions of Mexico are each featured in succession, something that brings the great diversity of the country to life.
I enjoyed the second half of the show most of all, following along with lasso roping and mariachi playing. This is entertainment at its finest, but it was also an inspiration. Mexican tourists cheered loudly for their regions, sang along, and national pride was quite evident.
I expected a standard theme park performance, something haphazard and semi-interesting, but instead I was on the edge of my seat for the entire show.
Every moment was perfectly choreographed and accompanied by high quality music. The addition of impeccable set design, costumes, and lighting only made it that much more enjoyable. I would highly recommend attending the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular.
More About Xcaret
I’ve been to numerous Cancun parks, and I’d bookmark Xcaret as one of the places you should absolutely visit during your trip to the Riviera Maya. It’s located just south of Playa del Carmen or about 1 hour and 20 minutes south of Cancun. Plan on a long, full day, but a very enjoyable one.
Xcaret tickets include admission to the show (dinner is an additional $45, purchased in advance, and comes with premium reserved show seating). Xcaret night show starts promptly at 7:00pm. You can choose from a full-day pass so you have time to see the whole park or you an get the afternoon pass if you’re short on time, which gives you just a few short hours to see the park and stay for the show.
If you plan on visiting other parks under the Experiencias Xcaret brand (I’ve been to both Xplor and Xenotes as well), you can buy multi-day packages to save 20-25%. Everywhere I’ve been has been incredible: well-organized, fun (even as an adult!), and worth the money.
Regardless of which park(s) you choose, I recommend buying your tickets online to qualify for additional Xcaret discounts.
Buy Xcaret Mexico Espectacular Tickets Here
- Xcaret Daytime Admission
- Price: $89.99
- Xcaret Evening Admission & Dinner Show
- Price: $71.99
- MEXICO ESPECTACULAR DINNER ONLY
- Price: $53.99
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I received a complimentary ticket and dinner to the Xcaret Mexico Espectacular as part of my participation in TBEX, a travel blogging conference. However, the pictures, review, and opinion are mine, as always!
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Keep Reading on sightDOING:
- I Love Cancun and I'm Not Afraid to Admit It
- Mexico Travel Guide
- Celebrating El Grito (Mexican Independence Day) on Isla Mujeres
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