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Mérida’s White Night: an invitation to change weekend cultural consumption

Mérida’s White Night.

After two years of suspension due to the Covid-19 pandemic, the White Night returns to Mérida in its May 2022 edition under the slogan “Live again.” About the event and its extensive cultural program, Travel Trade Caribbean spoke exclusively with anthropologist Dr. Irving Gamaliel Berlin Villafaña, director of culture of the City of Mérida, Yucatán.

For six hours, Yucatecan families and visitors to the state will be able to enjoy the various activities that will take place next Saturday, May 28, in 71 venues, including 10 parks, 2 theaters, 13 alternative forums, and 7 museums.

Regarding the origins of this proposal, Berlin Villafaña commented that it is a very old European initiative, which started being developed in some countries such as France and Spain; and each locality developed it differently. In France, for example, it is a night for the promotion of contemporary art. In Spain, on the other hand, they have a different philosophy: in Seville and Malaga, for example, they are more Andalusian, with popular music. But essentially, the White Night is an invitation to change the weekend cultural consumption.

anthropologist Dr. Irving Gamaliel Berlin Villafaña, director of culture of the City of Mérida, Yucatán. Photo: TTC.

The White Night is an incitement to insomnia, to not sleep, an event characterized by intensity, innovation and integration. “In our cities,” the director of culture of the City of Mérida City Council says, “each day of the weekend there is a greater development of the so-called creative economy, which basically functions with theaters, bars, restaurants; and the message that the White Night sends is that, just as you visit these places, between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m. you can also go to a museum, a gallery, a theater, a show, or performing arts.”

According to the official, the event, in its 13th edition, has held two annual White Nights for six consecutive years, except during the period of the pandemic when it was suspended. On this occasion, 31 galleries, 15 museums, around 12 independent spaces, as well as bars and restaurants, are participating in the event. “A fiesta of art and culture to expand cultural consumption,” he pointed out.

anthropologist Dr. Irving Gamaliel Berlin Villafaña, director of culture of the City of Mérida, Yucatán. Photo: TTC.

When characterizing Merida’s White Night, the anthropologist highlighted the use of the historic center as a mechanism for coexistence, where neighborhoods have a cultural offer (galleries, theaters, museums…) financed by the Mérida city council, and people have this type of cultural consumption.

Going out again

After two years of lockdown, the White Night finally returns. This is an event in which 30,000 or 40,000 people coexist in the public space and, in post-pandemic conditions, the challenge of having so many people together is great. Mérida is very excited to be out on the streets again, and will be able to select from more than 170 activities and performances by 880 artists, including a performance by the Cuban group Síntesis.

As has happened in previous editions, wristbands will be distributed in galleries and museums that will allow attendees to obtain a 10% discount in some 20 restaurants.

Despite the vocation of the historic center that the White Night has, because it is very lively, sometimes we think that it is too small for the initiative — it has a record of up to 60,000 people —, but that is something that time will tell. On this occasion the program has also included spaces located outside the center.

This edition includes activities in the atrium of the Cathedral, the ground floor of the Municipal Palace, the Paseo de Montejo auction, the Animaya Zoo, and the San Juan, Santa Lucía, Santa Ana, Mejorada, Santiago and La Ermita parks.

Among the extensive cultural program, there are 53 visual arts activities; 37 musicals; 9 related to the seventh art; 10 interdisciplinary shows, 5 of dance, 6 of theater, and 7 of literature, including the awarding of the 2021 City of Mérida International Poetry Prize.

In addition, there will be 8 creative bazaars, 2 artistic workshops, 14 tours, 1 fashion show, 2 talks, 1 chat and 4 gastronomic events.

All the activities that make up the program can be consulted on the website www.merida.gob.mx/nocheblanca, and on the Facebook page “Mérida es cultura.”

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