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What to Expect? Arena Festival, Playa Del Carmen,

Playa Del Carmen felt very gay friendly straight away. Add Arena Festival to the mix and the place turns into one big gay party.

We had never heard of Arena Festival before. But when we found out about it, and saw the pictures, we had to extend our trip!

Arena Festival – what is it?

It is essentially a circuit party. Mexico’s biggest. This previously meant nothing to us, as we’ve never attended one before but its slightly different to a pride event.

Arena Festival is a week-long series of elaborate parties at swanky beach clubs in Playa Del Carmen, climaxing in an all-night party deep in the jungle of Tulum surrounded by beautiful cenotes. It’s held in January / February every year and attracts 1000’s of mainly gay men of all ages.

What are the parties like at Arena Festival?

The parties at Arena Festival revolve around the music, meeting new people and dancing the night away surrounded by a lot of topless beautiful men. This was a particularly attractive crowd and we were quite taken aback by the number of six packs on display!

You can expect to see gogo dancers, drag performers, fire acts, incredible decorations and stylish venues. The organisers really go to town to make sure that you are wowed!

If you enjoy a good party, you would be hard pushed not to have fun!

Top tip: We learnt that you do not arrive when the party starts! If the party is 2pm-10pm, it did not get going until 6/7pm. Similarly, for the parties that go on to 9am in the morning don’t arrive before 11pm if you want to last the night! We expect that this is not only for Arena Festival but will be the same when we head to Europe later this year.

Martina Beach - Arena Festival

Martina Beach Club – one of the venues used for the parties

Is it all just for six packs and muscle boys?

The short answer is no. There is everyone and anyone there. All shapes and sizes, all wearing whatever they want, having fun and being free.

However, it is very true that there is a much higher proportion of very attractive, bronzed, adonis type men here than we have seen anywhere else in the world at any one time – which of course is part of the attraction of the event for us! We have gained some serious gymspiration from going to Arena!

What to wear to the Arena Festival Parties?!

Anything and nothing.

The most common outfit is of course, high tops and speedos, simple yet effective! There will be people in shorts, swimwear, harnesses or even for the brave, just a jockstrap. Apparently bandannas worn around the neck is the new thing too!

You can just wear whatever makes you feel good and comfortable and there is no judgement. This is one of the things we really love about these sorts of events.

Sundia Arena Festival

At the Sundia Party (Spanish for Watermelon!)

How much does Arena Festival cost?

You can either pay for the entire week, $275 for 12 parties, $120 for 3 over the weekend or pay on the door for $25-$75 for each party. Its certainly not something cheap to take part in but as a one-off week, why not! Check online for up to date prices each year.

The drinks cost up to $10 for a spirit and mixer and beers were around $3-$5 depending on the party.

Most people spend the day on the very popular Mamitas Beach drinking before the party. This makes going to the party much cheaper and drinks at the beach is always a fun activity! Mamitas Beach Club plays music so even while laying on the sand with a drink, you still get that beach party vibe for free.

Was it worth it?

Absolutely. Arena Festival is not something you get everyday and we had so much fun. I don’t know that we would last a full week, but we would definitely like to return and try!

Where to stay for Arena Festival?

Go check out these gay friendly hotels in our gay guide to Playa Del Carmen!

If you like your gay parties and events make sure you read:

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Mark Mattern

Friday 7th of February 2020

Thanks for the tips!


Wednesday 11th of July 2018

Sounds like a great time to have!

The Globetrotter Guys

Saturday 28th of July 2018

It really was! We will have to go back!