The Ultimate Guide to Cancun Nightlife on New Year’s Eve
Breathtaking by day, lively by night, Cancun is renowned for its intense and varied nightlife. Featuring world-class bars and nightclubs, amazing performances and energetic music, Cancun has quickly become of the best destinations in Latin America for partying. On any given night, you can find “fiesta” in the party center, or the heart of the hotel zone.
Club music and hypnotizing lights pour into the street, enticing you into the nightclubs. One of the best times to experience Cancun nightlife is during the holidays, particularly on New Year’s Eve!
New Year’s in Cancun
Are you more of a party animal than a homebody on New Year’s? You’ve chosen the right place. Cancun comes alive on New Year’s Eve, offering a variety of fun options for bringing in the New Year until dawn. From special DJ performances to New Year’s parties, there is something for everyone. Our first pick for New Year’s Eve is the party center, which is home to Cancun’s best nightlife.
Top Nightclubs in Cancun on New Year’s EveCoco Bongo
Cancun’s most popular nightspot, Coco Bongo is a must during your stay. It isn’t your typical nightclub with a dancefloor. Instead, it hosts a wide variety of performances ranging from amazing acrobatic shows to energetic music tributes that are sure to get you singing and dancing. On New Year’s Eve, Coco Bongo has a series of special performances to bring in the New Year.
Each ticket includes open bar Make sure to book your tickets ahead and get there early. Coco Bongo tends to get packed, especially on New Year’s Eve. Wear comfortable shoes and get ready to have fun until the early hours of the first day of the New Year.
One of the nightclubs that transformed Cancun’s nightlife—Dady’O has been around since 1989. Popular among visitors and locals, this cavern-like nightclub has a large rotating dance floor and six bars surrounding it for your convenience. The party starts at Dady’O on Thursday nights with the traditional bikini contest and goes into the weekend with exciting nights powered by 80s and 90s mashups, hip hop and electronic sounds.
Prepared to be amazed by the vibrant special effects and laser shows that make Dady’O truly a unique nightclub. Dady’O holds a New Year’s Party every year with sounds by famous DJs, a buffet dinner and open bar.
Mandala is always a good idea. This sophisticated, open-air nightclub features oriental décor and Mandala motifs. Each week, Mandala has two themed-nights—Mardi Gras Mondays, an exciting party with free beads, dance performances and other surprises and Mandala Gone Wild Thursdays, a year-round Spring Break themed night with contests and club music.
Expect to hear electronic and hip-hop at Mandala, as well as reggaetón and other Latin music some nights. Every year, Mandala has an exciting New Year’s Party for visitors and locals. Get on your nicest New Year’s Eve outfit and get ready to mingle with lots of nationalities.
Palazzo is one of Cancun’s most elegant nightclubs. Featuring stylish décor, dazzling chandeliers and light shows, this exclusive nightclub is a must for electronic music fans. EDM and techno sounds power the night while go-go dancers move to the rhythm and colorful lights fill the dancefloor. Palazzo opens on Wednesdays and Saturdays with two themed nights—Wednesday Red Light District and Saturday Glow Parties.
During these themed nights, Palazzo hosts a series of shows—including an Aztec performance, robotic dancers, acrobatics and much more. Before setting your heart on Palazzo to bring in the New Year, check to see if the nightclub opens on December 31st.
Latin America’s largest nightclub—The City is a massive nightclub that can hold up to 5,000 club goers. Each floor at The City offers a different experience. For those looking to tear up the dance floor and mix and mingle with fellow party lovers, the dancefloor is the place to be. If you want more privacy and room, we recommend reserving bottle service on the second or third floor.
The City opens on Fridays and for special events. In the past, The City has hosted shows by big names, like Alesso, Snoop Dog, Paul Van Dyk, Dash Berlin and other famous artists and DJs. Check out The City’s website and social media channels to see if the nightclub is hosting a New Year’s Eve Party.
Mandala Beach (By Day)
One of our favorite places to visit during the day—Mandala Beach is a stylish beach club with a pool overlooking the ocean, a Jacuzzi, two bars, and a wide selection of sunloungers and sunbeds. There is also a family area with its own pool and a VIP area with cabannas with their own plunge pools in addition to an exclusive VIP pool. During the day, expect to hear lounge music, deep house and popular remixes.
Make sure to save your appetite for Mandala Beach—this chic beach club serves a variety of delicious Mexican and international dishes, including sushi, seafood and tacos. We recommend going to Mandala Beach the first day of the year or a day or two before the 31st to mix and mingle with people from all over the world while partying under the hot Caribbean sun.
Mandala Beach (By Night)
After the sun goes down, Mandala closes for a few hours and reopens at night, transforming into an outdoor nightclub. Going to a party at Mandala Beach at night is truly a Cancun party experience you cannot miss out on especially during Christmas Vacation and Spring Break.
An energetic host entertains the crowd the entire night, while club goers take a shot at winning one of the contests held by the nightclub. On New Year’s Eve, Mandala Beach is home to the official after party for clubs like Dady’O and Mandala. The party starts at approximately 2am and goes until sunrise.
If you’re looking to have fun on New Year’s Eve without spending over 100 dollars at one of the major nightclubs in the party center, La Vaquita is a great option. This open-air night club specializes in liter-sized drinks and “fiesta”. La Vaquita plays a variety of music throughout the night, including hip-hop, pop, techno and latin beats.
La Vaquita is a great spot to start your night off or stay until the wee hours. On New Year’s Eve, La Vaquita hosts an annual New Year’s Eve Party with great music and an international crowd.
Another fun and affordable nightclub, Congo Bar is a raucous nightclub featuring go-go dancers and a great variety of music that keeps you on the dancefloor all night long. This small open-air is a great option for those looking for a great night without breaking the bank. Congo Bar has a fun New Year’s Eve Party every year. Make sure to arrive early, as the club is sure to be packed!
Señor Frog's is a restaurant by day and a lively bar and nightclub by night. After dinner, patrons can participate in a variety of fun games and contests. Señor Frog's hosts themed parties, including a glow party where party revelers can cover themselves in body paint and a foam party.
Can you imagine dancing in foam? Well it’s possible at Señor Frog's. If you’re looking for an all-inclusive experience on New Year’s Eve, consider bringing in the New Year Senor Frogs!
Carlos N Charlies
Carlos N Charlies is not a nightclub per say, but it has a festive ambiance with great music and fun activities. On Friday nights, you can dance to a variety of Latin beats, like salsa as well as join in on the fun conga line! Carlos N’ Charlies is a great option for those looking for calmer place to eat and bring in the New Year.
Carlos N Charlies
Cancun’s most exclusive nightclub, HRoof is a chic nightclub adjacent to Harry’s Steakhouse in the hotel zone. This trendy nightclub is popular among locals and electronic music lovers. If you’re a fan of deep house, techno and EDM make sure to visit HRoof, the nightclub has hosted DJs like Jonas Blue, Throttle, Tom & Collins, Lost Frequencies and other famous artists. HRoof, unlike clubs in the party center, has a rigid dress code—our word of advice is to dress to impress and leave your sandals at the hotel.
On the days leading up to New Year’s Eve, HRoof hosts a series of international and Mexican DJ performances, and even a yacht party. Keep an eye on HRoof’s social media accounts to see what this sophisticated nightclub has planned for the holidays! https://www.facebook.com/HRoofnightclub/videos/vl.338418013248827/2127642070786594/?type=1
A Foodie’s Guide to Cancun
Paradisiacal beaches, turquoise waves, tropical drinks and Spring Break. These are the words that come to mind when you think of Cancun.
What if we told you that there is more to Cancun than just white sand and tequila. This prosperous, Mexican beach destination is quickly gaining its spot on the foodie map. It’s not an uncommon sight to see a taco stand next to an authentic Italian restaurant or a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with some of the best food in town.
Beyond Tacos, Nachos and Burritos
Mexican cuisine is known for its varied flavors and enticing spicy aftertaste. Each colorful dish has a story, whether covered in a tantalizing salsa, accompanied by fresh corn tortillas or garnished with cilantro. Dating back to more than 9,000 years, Mexican food is a blend of native Mexican ingredients, such as corn, beans and chili peppers; Spanish influences, including, wheat and garlic; French cooking techniques and Far Eastern spices. Each region and state even have their own traditional dishes, inspired by the local climate and ingredients, immigrants and native tribes. Cancun is no exception to the rule, as the local cuisine showcases a variety of influences and ingredients from near and far.
Cancun is situated on the northeastern edge of Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula and the state of Quintana Roo. Sharing borders with Yucatan, Campeche and Tabasco, Quintana Roo’s cuisine has been heavily influenced by these states throughout the years. Featuring a mixture of Spanish and Mayan influences, the origins of Cancun cuisine can be traced back to 9,000 years, when the ancient Mayan empire expanded into Quintana Roo. The Mayans introduced open fire cooking techniques with clay pots and a variety of ingredients, such as sweet potatoes, beans, corn, chilies, avocados and tomatoes. Due to its proximity to the sea, the food of Cancun is also heavily influenced by local seafood caught on a daily basis and Caribbean flavors.
Ready to go on a culinary journey through Cancun? From seafood to regional specialties, there is something for everyone.
Must-Try Food in Cancun (And where to go)Seafood
Featuring a summer-like climate year round and an excellent location on the Caribbean Coast, Cancun is recognized worldwide for its fresh fish and seafood. We tell you where to go in the hotel zone and downtown Cancun for the best dishes in town.
Ceviche: It’s summer all year-round in Cancun. One of our favorite dishes to eat on a hot day is ceviche. The local recipe calls for raw fish or seafood, lime juice, onion, serrano chile peppers, tomatoes and cilantro. Local specialties include shrimp ceviche and conch ceviche.
Hotel Zone: Fred’s House / Local Spot: Mar Bella
Tikin-Xic: You cannot leave Cancun without trying this local favorite. Tikin-Xic (pronounced: “teekeen sheek" or roasted fish in achiote sauce is a classic recipe from the Yucatan peninsula. A whole skin-on filet of fish is seasoned with tomatoes, pickled onions, chiles and achiote paste, and then wrapped up in a banana leaf for chargrilling
Hotel Zone: / Local Spot: Flamingo’s
Pescadillas: Think quesadillas, but instead of being stuffed with cheese (queso) they are stuffed with fish (pescado), hence the name, pescadillas. Don’t miss out on this cheap and delicious dish—a deep-fried empanada stuffed with white fish, minced onion, garlic and parsley. Make sure to accompany it with green salsa!
Hotel Zone: El Galeón del Caribe "Las Pescadillas"/ Local Spot: Fish Fritanga (also in the hotel zone)
Tacos Capeados: Did someone say Taco Tuesday? Although the original recipe is from Northwestern Mexico, beer-battered fish and shrimp tacos are wildly popular in Cancun.
Top off each taco with tomato and cabbage slices, chopped green onion and cilantro-lime mayonnaise to have the complete fish taco experience.
Hotel Zone: El Galeón del Caribe "Las Pescadillas"/ Local Spot: Fish Fritanga (also in the hotel zone)
Camarones al Coco: We are fans of coconut shrimp in Cancun. Fresh shrimp are covered in beer batter and coconut flakes and then fried to perfection.
Hotel Zone: Mocambo / Local Spot: El Oasis
Tostadas: Light and refreshing, seafood tostadas taste great on a hot day. They come with a variety of toppings, ranging from shrimp ceviche to tuna, as well as marlin and octopus.
Hotel Zone: Las Hijas de La Tostada / Local Spot: La Playita
Lobster: Cancun and the surrounding area is well-known for its lobster dishes. We recommend Lorenzillo’s, a local landmark known for its live lobsters. Situated on the lagoon in the hotel zone, Lorenzillo’s has grilled, broiled and steamed lobster. Don’t miss out on this great restaurant!
Yucatecan cuisine is a mix of Mayan, Spanish, European and Middle-Eastern influences. Staple ingredients include achiote, habanero chili, sour oranges, corn, tomatoes, black beans, pickled onions and pork. Although Yucatecan cuisine is not originally from Cancun, it has a large presence in a variety of restaurants and homes in Quintana Roo due to immigration from the neighboring state of Yucatan.
Where to try Yucatecan cuisine in Cancun: Labna and La Habichuela. Both of these traditional restaurants of Cancun are located in the famous Parque de Palapas where you can also try street food and other Mexican specialties.
Cochinita Pibil: Think pulled pork, but even better. This dish from the Yucatan peninsula is made from suckling pig or pork shoulder that’s marinated in sour orange
juice, achiote paste, garlic, oregano and other spices, wrapped up in banana leaves and slow-roasted in a barbecue pit (pibil) or an oven.
Panuchos: A popular Yucatan vegetarian dish ideal for snacking before the main meal, panuchos are fried corn tortillas stuffed with refried black beans topped off with pickled habanero peppers and onions.
Salbutes: Another quintessential Yucatan tortilla dish, salbutes are fried corn rounds topped with shredded turkey or chicken, pickled onions, chopped lettuce, tomatoes and habanero peppers.
Poc Chuc: A traditional Mayan dish made with pork-steak marinated in sour orange juice and grilled over charcoal. Poc Chuc is often served with a side of refried black beans, avocado, pickled onions and rice.
Queso Relleno: A delicious Yucatan specialty made with a partially hollowed out Edam cheese ball (queso de bola) imported from Holland. The cheese is stuffed with ground beef or pork, raisins and nuts and topped with tomato and white sauce.
Papadzules: One of the oldest dishes from the Yucatan Peninsula, papadzules are similar to enchildas. Corn tortillas are dipped in a green sauce made of broth, ground pumpkin seeds and epazote (an aromatic herb used in Mexican dishes), stuffed with boiled eggs and topped off with more green sauce.
Pavo en Relleno Negro: Turkey is a staple ingredient of Yucatecan cuisine. Turkey is cooked with broth and “recado negro”, a dark paste made out of fresh herbs and spices and served with hardboiled eggs.
Sopa de Lima: One of the best soups in all of Mexico, this delicious lime soup tastes good even on the hottest day in Cancun. The soup is made out of homemade chicken broth with shredded chicken or turkey, tortilla strips, local lime juice, onion, cilantro and chilis.
Kibis: “Kibis, kibis, kibis” Don’t be surprised if you hear this on a public beach in Cancun. This delicious deep-fried. Lebanese snack is made from rough ground wheat, meat and onions, shaped into an oval and filled with pickled onions and habanero
Marquesitas: Think crunchy crepes. This delicious snack can be found in food stalls all over Cancun and the surroundings. The batter is poured waffle-maker and left to brown, shaped into a crepe and filled with the ingredients of your choice. We recommend nutella and queso de bola.
Ah Cacao Chocolate Café: Ah Cacao is a must for chocolics. Whether you’re craving a dessert or just want to satisfy your sweet tooth, make sure to visit this local establishment in La Isla Village Shopping Center. Ah Cacao has a variety of cacao-based drinks, from classic hot chocolate to Mayan hot chocolate, which has added spices.
Make sure to order a brownie as well, we promise you won’t regret it!
Remember, you’re on vacation. Eat your way through Cancun and hit the scale when you’re back at home. Buen provecho (Happy Eating)!
Christmas & New Year in Cancun
Christmas in a tropical place? Most of us are used to sweater-weather, hot cocoa by the fire and a white Christmas. Why not try something different in December? There is something magical about spending Christmas on the beach or receiving the first day of the New Year in the ocean. Learn about another culture’s Christmas and New Years’ traditions while vacationing with your loved ones or friends in beautiful Cancun.
Does Christmas Exist in Cancun?
It sure does! Although it may be warm out, Cancun gets into the Christmas spirit. Nativity scenes can be seen in public areas and churches, as well as a giant Christmas Tree in front of the mayor’s office. Illuminated palm trees and Christmas decorations line Kukulkan Boulevard, the main road along the hotel zone in Cancun. Each of the main shopping malls in the hotel zone and downtown have a Christmas tree, Christmas-themed activities and beautiful decorations. In fact, if you happen to visit Cancun during Christmas and New Year’s you’re in for a special treat, there isn’t that much humidity! You may even consider bringing a light jacket or sweater for the cool nights.
What Do Locals Do on Christmas and New Year’s?
You may be wondering what the locals do on Christmas and New Year’s. Cancun is home to about 1 million people from different countries and religions. Christmas is considered a family and religious event in Mexico. Instead of celebrating Christmas on the 25th, most families celebrate on “Noche Buena” or Christmas Eve. Families have a dinner that may last all night long and exchange gifts. Traditional Christmas Eve dishes include “pavo relleno” (turkey with stuffing), “romeritos” (a Mexican dish consisting of sprigs served in a mole sauce with dried shrimp and potatoes). On Christmas Day, Mexicans get together with their family or friends and eat the traditional “recalentado” or leftovers from Christmas Eve.
On New Year’s, Mexicans gather with close friends and family for dinner. There is an abundance of food on the table ranging from Mexican classics like “bacalao” (salted cod with potatoes, olives capers, tomatoes, and chiles), buñuelos (mexican fruiters); and ponche (fruit punch) to a traditional taquiza, which is essentially a taco party, where you choose from a variety of taco fillings, fresh tortillas and different kinds of salsa. Right before midnight, Mexicans start frantically eating 12 grapes with each chime of the clock, making a wish with each grape. At midnight, the fireworks are set off to receive the New Year and scare all of the old spirits away.
Mexican New Year Traditions include:
Eating lentils or giving a bag of dry lentils to your guests for good fortune. Ladies wear red underwear for love, yellow underwear for happiness, green underwear for wealth and white underwear for peace in the New Year. Walk an empty suitcase around the house or block to bring good travels. Sweep the floor or clean before midnight for new beginnings. Throw a bucket of water out of the window to throw away the “old year” and welcome the New Year.
Where to Eat in Cancun on Christmas and New Year’s
If you’re staying at an all-inclusive resort or large hotel, make sure to ask the concierge what the hotel has planned for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Most hotels have a traditional Christmas Eve Dinner and New Year’s Celebrations. Make sure to call the hotel ahead about the dress code, as Christmas Eve and New Year’s events often call for formal attire. If you would rather eat out, you’re in luck! Cancun has a wide variety of restaurants that can satisfy even the most discerning traveler or budget-savvy traveler.
Cenacolo: Featuring one of the best views of the lagoon, Cenacolo serves upscale Italian specialties, such as homemade pasta and seafood. Its romantic atmosphere makes it a great option for couples looking for a restaurant with an intimate atmosphere on Christmas or New Years.
Rosa Negra: One of the most popular restaurants in the hotel zone, Rosa Negra specializes in Latin American cuisine and creative mixology. Rosa Negra is an excellent choice for groups seeking a festive and exclusive atmosphere during the holidays.
Puerto Madero: A must for meat and seafood lovers—Puerto Madero is an elegant Argentinian restaurant located along the lagoon. Families looking for a sophisticated restaurant for Christmas or New Year’s should consider eating at Puerto Madero.
Lorenzillo’s: A local landmark, Lorenzillo’s happens to be one of Cancun’s most famous restaurants. Specializing in seafood, this nautical-themed restaurant is ideal for families and groups.
Fred’s House: Enjoy a tropical paradise while watching an amazing sunset and eating fresh dishes at Fred’s, a restaurant specializing in seafood and oysters. Couples will love the “casitas” in the private dining area that overlooks the lagoon.
Casa Rolandi: Another great option for families, Casa Rolandi serves Italian and Swiss cuisine. It has an inviting and homey atmosphere, as well as food for all ages. Kids will love the pizza or lasagna, while adults may opt for grilled octopus or a tantalizing pasta dish.
Porfirio’s: Featuring an upbeat atmosphere and creative dishes, Porfirio’s is an elegant Mexican restaurant on the lagoon. This restaurant is highly-recommendable for groups seeking delicious Mexican food on Christmas and New Year’s.
Ruth Chris Steakhouse: This classic, American steakhouse has top-grade food, delicious side dishes and excellent service. Ruth Chris serves generous portions, making it a great choice for families seeking an elegant atmosphere for Christmas or New Year’s.
Thai Lounge: One of Cancun’s most unique restaurants—Thai Lounge has private bungalows tree-house like lounges in a stunning jungle-setting right on the lagoon. Featuring a romantic atmosphere and chill electronic music, Thai is a superb option for couples.
Carlos N Charlies: If you’re seeking a loud and fun restaurant with a kid-friendly atmosphere, Carlos N Charlies is your place. This casual dining eatery features Mexican favorites and constant entertainment. We highly recommend Carlos N Charlies for New Year’s Eve.
Señor Frog's: One of Cancun’s most lively restaurants— Señor Frog's specializes in international cuisine and guaranteed fun. After dinner, Señor Frog's turns into an energetic bar with lots of dancing and fun activities for its patrons.
Chuchito Perez: Featuring a great view of the hotel zone and Forum Beach, Chuchito Perez is a trendy restaurant serving Mexican and international dishes. Don’t miss out on one of their unique drinks as well!
La No. 20 Cantina: Located in Puerto Marina Town Center, the newest lifestyle mall in Puerto Cancun. This upbeat Mexican restaurant serves traditional appetizers and snacks you would find at a catina (Mexican bar), as well as mouthwatering dishes like tacos and seafood. La No. 20 is an excellent choice for groups of friends on New Year’s Eve.
Montemar: Also located in Puerto Marina Town Center, Montemar is an upscale seafood restaurant serving fresh, Mexican surf and turf. Featuring live DJ music on some nights and a great cocktail menu, Montemar is an idea restaurant for friends and couples seeking a restaurant with excellent food and an energizing atmosphere on Christmas Eve or New Year’s.
Mr. Pampas: A carnivore’s paradise—Mr. Pampas is an inexpensive Brazilian steakhouse with an extensive buffet and 30 different cuts of meat and seafood (steak, chicken, octopus etc). It’s casual and fun atmosphere is perfect for families and large groups.
Bovino’s: An upscale Brazilian steakhouse ideal for families and groups seeking an elegant atmosphere for Christmas or New Years. Bovino’s has delicious cuts of meat, chicken and seafood, as well an all you-can-eat buffet with excellent desserts and sides.
Bandoneon: A local favorite—Bandoneon is an Argentinian restaurant serving delicious steak and other specialties from Argentina. It has a fine dining atmosphere, making it a great option for an elegant Christmas or New Year’s Eve dinner.
La Dolce Vita: An authentic Italian restaurant in downtown Cancun, Dolce Vita is famous for its homemade pasta and excellent service. This white tablecloth restaurant has a romantic ambiance, making it ideal for foodie couples looking for a restaurant to celebrate Christmas or New Year’s together.
Du Mexique: This small, elegant restaurant in downtown Cancun serves Mexican-French fusion cuisine. It is well-known among returning visitors and locals for its superb service and family setting.
These are just a few dining options for Christmas and New Year’s in Cancun. Make sure to reserve a table ahead, ask about the dress code, and most importantly, have fun!