UNESCO’s Flying Men in Puerto Vallarta

The malecon boardwalk in Puerto Vallarta is where many locals and vacationers love to spend an afternoon, watching the Marigalante pirate ship on the horizon or at night enjoying the pirate ship’s firework display. You could say that the malecon is the heart of Puerto Vallarta where everything happens. In addition to stores, sculptures, restaurants, bars and nightclubs, one of the most incredible things that you will see on the northern end Puerto Vallarta’s malecon are the Voladores de Papantla, also known as the “Flying Birdman,” as they soar through the air keeping everyone totally enchanted.

Voladores de Papantla – The Flying Birdman in Puerto Vallarta

If you walk to the northern end of the Malecon boardwalk you will see a tall pole rising from the beach, more or less outside the Bodeguita del Medio Cuban restaurant and the Jazz Foundation. It is upon this huge pole that the Flying Birdman in Puerto Vallarta perform their magic, wearing beautiful, traditional, and vibrant embroidered outfits which go to illustrate the rich customs of Mexico. These artists put on several amazing shows each day, seven days a week for tips.

The Show – Flying Birdmen in Puerto Vallarta

There are five voladores or birdmen who carry out the ceremonial ritual where they all climb to the top of the pole. All of the voladores will sit there and wait on the pole as it spins around positioning the ropes into their proper places while the master spinner plays a tune with his flute. When the time is right, the four voladores (flyers), with one foot tied to the rope, will “fall” from the top of the pole and start their slow spin to the floor held by just their foot. As they spin thirteen times, the rope will unravel and they will be upside down until they reach the ground. While the voladores are spinning to the ground and the master spinner will continue playing the flute from atop of the pole.

Voladores de Papantla History

The sacred ceremony started in central Mexico hundreds of years ago. At this time legend has it that there was a severe drought that took over the land. The ceremony was created to encourage the gods to provide water for the land. Five young men went to the forest to find the largest tree standing to use for the ceremony. After asking permission from the gods, they cut the tree down and removed the branches, taking the trunk back to their village. The wooden pole was staked into the ground and the four young men proceeded to climb it while a fifth young man played music to please all the gods so they would send rain.

Intangible Cultural Heritage in Mexico

UNESCO awarded this ritual an intangible cultural heritage that should be protected and promoted because of its significance within Mexican culture. You will now see the ritual performed in many popular destinations despite the fact that it originated in Papantlá.

The Flying Birdmen in Puerto Vallarta is a free traditional show that everyone that comes to Puerto Vallarta should see and enjoy. If you would like to have a unique and amazing experience on your vacation in Mexico, then head to the Malecon. Why not take a picture of the voladores as the Marigalante pirate ship passes in the distance? That would make a fabulous photograph for Facebook or Instagram.