On September 5th, I was thrilled to head down to Xcaret for the press conference on this huge nature and culture park's annual Festival of Life and Death. The five-day event celebrates a variety of Day of the Dead traditions from across Mexico in a colorful nighttime atmosphere just south of Playa del Carmen. The press conference was held in the courtyard of Xcaret's beautiful hacienda, one of my all-time favorite event spaces. They had decorated the space to reflect the colors and beauty one can expect to see at the festival every year, with a mural of traditional Mayan grave markers lit up by candles.

Xcaret Festival of Life and Death 

Xcaret Festival of Life and Death 

There was a huge thunderstorm that day, but in my opinion it just added to the beautiful tropical ambiance of the park.

Xcaret hacienda rain 

The leaders of Xperiencias Xcaret along with the Festival of Life and Death organizers led the press conference, giving us all the details on the much-anticipated event and answering questions from the press.

Xcaret Festival of Life and Death 

Xcaret Festival of Life and Death press conference 

The symbol for the 8th Festival of Life and Death is the Xtabay, a Mayan legend of a woman with long, flowing hair who entices men to follow her into the underworld. A stunning combination of death and beauty, just like Day of the Dead. Rumor has it that the image for this year's poster was created by an Xcaret park employee.

Xcaret Festival of Life and Death poster 

Every year the festival invites a Mexican state to be featured in the event. This year, the state of Campeche will be highlighted with ballet, folkloric dances, a symphonic orchestra, theatrical performances and much more.

Renowned Mexican opera singer and actress Regina Orozco is headlining the Festival of Life and Death on October 30 and 31 in the park's beautiful Gran Tlachco theater with her performance "Regina Catrina", a fun yet macabre performance dedicated to loved ones who have passed away.

Local photographers will love participating in the Day of the Dead Photography Competition, showing their perception of Day of the Dead traditions throughout the villages of southeastern Mexico. For more details, check out the website.

We can also expect to see festival favorites like the interactive chocolate workshop, plenty of activities for kids, face painting to emulate the famous Mexican "Catrina", numerous theatrical performances throughout Xcaret, tours of the hilltop cemetery and delicious food.

The Festival of Life and Death 2013 will be held in the evenings at Xcaret park October 30 - November 2, followed by a Day of the Dead expo at Parque La Ceiba in Playa del Carmen on November 3.

Pricing is as follows:

All-day park admission: $89 USD from 8am to close

Nighttime park admission: $69 USD from 3pm to close

Residents of Quintana Roo, Yucatan or Campeche: $199 pesos adults and $99 pesos kids. Children under 5 years enter free. Please bring an official ID (IFE, driver's license or FM3) to prove your state of residence to receive this discount.

For more details and itinerary info on the event, check out the Festival of Life and Death website (Spanish).