The city of Tlacotalpan is located in the eastern coastal region of the Mexican state of Veracruz. Although the area had been inhabited since pre-Columbian times, the modern-day settlement was founded as a river port on the banks of the Río Papaloapan in the mid-16th century. It serves as the municipal seat for the municipality of the same name. The town is known in Mexico for its connection to the musical genre Son Jarocho, and for its annual "Encuentro Nacional de Jaraneros y Decimistas" - a meeting of players of the stringed instrument jarana and singers of décima verses.
Tlacotalpan was chosen as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1998 because the "urban layout and architecture of Tlacotalpan represent a fusion of Spanish and Caribbean traditions of exceptional importance and quality... Its outstanding character lies in its townscape of wide streets, modest houses in an exuberant variety of styles and colours, and many mature trees in public and private open spaces." (UNESCO, 1998.). The name "Tlacotalpan" is Nahuatl meaning "place between the rivers", akin to "Mesopotamia".
Candlemas in this city is an important celebration. The festival begins on 31 January at 3pm and lasts for 8 days, until 9 February, all day and all night. People dress in traditional clothing and traditional foods such as arroz a la tumbada (rice cooked in fish broth), pescado a la veracruzana (fish, with tomatoes, olives, chillies, and onions), white gorditas (a sweet bread, about the size and shape of an English muffin, longaniza (a type of sausage), enchiladas, naranjas rellenas (stuffed oranges), and dulce de leche (similar to caramel candy).
The “Virgen de la Candelaria” (Virgin of Candlemas) is brought out onto the streets of the village to bless the fishing and the people. At the front of the procession is the Roman Catholic Archbishop of the Port of Veracruz, along with other important clergy in the region. The band from the Naval Academy in nearby Antón Lizardo gives a performance and there are fireworks at night. The celebration draws many visitors to this place.