If you are looking for a unique evening activity while visiting Mexico, experiencing night shows at three popular Mayan Ruins is as unique as you can get. Chichen Itza, Uxmal and the Franciscan San Antonio Convent (Convento Fransescano de San Antonio) in the small town of Izamal are the only locations that have night shows.
There was a time way back when (2008) when the Tulum Ruins were open at night, not necessarily with a night show, but you could explore the ruins under the spectacular starry Tulum sky. We hope they open this option up again, and will let you know if this can be added to the list.
Chichen Itza is a 90 minute drive from the Riviera Maya when you use the Playa del Carmen and Merida toll roads. The evening show starts at 7:00 pm during the winter and 8:00 in the summer. Note: The state of Quintana Roo and the state of the Yucatan are not in the same time zone during the winter months. The Yucatan is one hour behind.
The show is a light show projected on the main pyramid at Chichen Itza that tells the history of the Maya. Admission is 200 pesos and kids under 13 yrs are free. If you are not a fan of driving in the dark, there are some great hotels just a few minutes from the Ruins that would make this a fun overnight trip. You can also visit the ruins in the daylight when it opens at 8 am before all the tour buses arrive. Win-win I say, win-win.
The Maya Land Hotel is a great place to rest your head for the evening, or check out Hacienda Chichen which started out as a local plantation that farmed agave and made Henequin, and ended up housing the archeologists that assisted in the excavation of this world famous site. This hotel has historical significance in and of itself.
Uxmal is a favorite site located just south of Merida. This is a site that will require an overnight, and we do suggest the Hacienda Uxmal Plantation and Museum. This hotel is a hop, skip and jump to the Uxmal ruins, letting you easily attend the evening show and take advantage of an early start to your day tour.
The Light and Sound show is held each evening 7:00 pm in the winter and 8:00 pm in the summer. Tickets for the night show are 200 pesos each and kids under 13 are free.
If you have not been to the beautiful yellow city of Izamal, this is a must see colonial city in the Yucatan. All the downtown colonial buildings are painted yellow, and there are three small ruin sites surrounding the perimeter of the city. The most popular attraction, beside the great food in the Municipal Market, is the Convent. For decades not the Convent has been producing a Night Light Show that explains the history of the area.
This evening show is a bit less expensive, only 100 pesos per person with kids under 13 free. A digital headset with the English translation is available for 39 pesos.
The Convent tour offered during the day is also a great addition to your trip. If anything we just love this little town of Izamal and love visiting a few times a year.
I have seen this new digital show in Merida and have heard that it is also happening in Valladolid. Digital artists are projecting the history of the area on the front each city’s cathedral, offering a incredible digital video full of movement, color and history. The shows are free and I have not been able to confirm if they are every night, or just offered on weekends.
This is extraordinary and takes ‘public art’ to a new level. When I first saw this show on the Merida Catherdral, I just was not sure what to think. After watching the show in its entirety, I loved what I saw and the creativity of the artists.
These shows are a wonderful display of local light and sound art forms that bring city centers, archeological sites and small towns alive. Now if we could get local Riviera Maya cities to participate and local ruins, we would be all set!