Following unprecedented demand, we have just announced an increase in services to Cancun. The UK is one of the largest sources of overseas visitors to the popular Mexican coastal resort, and to date we've carried 17,000 passengers with a further 75,000 expected in the first year alone.
We launched our new direct route to Cancun from London Gatwick on the 12th June this year and with over 40,000 bookings taken prior to the first flight and load factors of more than 85%, the service is one of the most successful new route launches in our history. Virgin Holidays, which launched its first ever dedicated Mexico brochure to support the route when it first went on sale in 2010, has also experienced increased demand so we'll be upping the twice weekly service to three times a week from 4th April 2013.
Winter sun in Mexico
If you're already starting to think about where to find some winter sun, the Yucatán Peninsula's excellent beaches, historical sites and underwater life makes Cancun an excellent base. On top of the sailing, snorkelling, diving, shopping, sunbathing and pyramid-climbing, there's also a full calendar of events and festivals to plan your holiday around. Here's a selection taking place over the next few months...
7th Festival of Life and Death
The Festival of Life and Death takes place from 30 October – 2nd November at eco-archaeological park Xcaret, an easily accessible location for visitors staying in and around Cancun. The Day of the Dead festivities are a way for Mexican families to honour the memory and spirits of those who have passed on, and the Xcaret theme park offers a great way for tourists to understand the rituals and traditions of this special celebration, with workshops, puppetry, theatre, storytelling, dance, culinary samples, parades and a gala conert. This year, Playa del Carmen will also join in the activities with further events on 3 – 4 November in the Park La Ceiba.
Riviera Maya Jazz Festival
Staying in Playa del Carmen, the annual Riviera Maya Jazz Festival takes place from 22 – 24 November at Mamita's Beach. Along with jazz legends Wayne Shorter, John Scofield and, er, Level 42, this year's 10th anniversary line-up also includes Latin jazz band leader, salsa singer and conguero master Poncho Sanchez and Mexican-American percussionist and ex-Santana member Pete Escovedo.
During the run up to Christmas, from 16 – 24 December, it will be hard to miss Las Posadas in Cancun. The word posada means "inn" and the festivities represent Mary and Joseph's search for shelter in Bethlehem, with nine consecutive nights of candelit processions, nativity scenes, passion plays, piñata breaking and lively parties.
Every February, the streets of Cancun burst into life with three weeks of carnivals, concerts, exhibitions and events. Carnival time – supposedly a period of letting your hair down before the observance of Lent – is a great excuse to get away from the beach and experience some real Mexican spirit. Most of the downtown area's streets are taken over by dancers, musicians, stilt walkers and costumed performers, not to mention plenty of art, craft and food stalls with opportunities to sample authentic Mexican cuisine.
Header photo © Manuel Canela
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About the author: MaxineMaxine Sheppard
Maxine is the editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.