La Paz  is known throughout Mexico for its all-out celebration of Carnaval, a six-day festival held throughout the world in mid-February or early March on the days leading up to Ash Wednesday.
Like Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Oktoberfest in Munich, or Burning Man in the Nevada desert, this is a destination event—something every traveler should consider experiencing at least once.
There are daily parades along the malecón, brightly colored costumes, the crowning of a queen, amusement rides, fireworks, music, and food stands—with tequila and cerveza flowing freely all the while.
The Carnaval tradition came to Mexico from Spain and is believed to have evolved as the last chance for Christians to party before the fasting time of Lent. Some interpret the name Carnaval as deriving from the Latin carne vale, which means “farewell to meat.”
The Fiesta de La Paz (officially known as Fiesta de la Fundación de la Ciudad de La Paz) takes place on May 3, the anniversary of the city’s founding. Contact the state tourism office (tel. 612/124-0100, turismo [at] correro [dot] gbcs [dot] gob [dot] mx), between Km. 5 and 6 on Mexico 1 (Avenida Abasolo), for festival venues and events.
The Baja 1000 off-road race comes to town in mid-November. Produced by SCORE International (U.S. tel. 818/225-8402, www.score  international.com), the event is the sixth and last in a series of desert races that take place in the southwestern United States and Mexico each year. The Baja 1000 attracts more than 400 pro contestants who drive trucks, motorcycles, ATVs, and every imaginable variation of off-road vehicle.
They start in Ensenada  and cruise at breakneck speeds through the desert to the outskirts of La Paz. Only about half of the race entrants complete the challenging 1,000-mile course.
In its 43rd year in 2010, the race draws thousands of support crew and spectators to the most remote parts of the peninsula. The course opens for pre-running approximately three weeks before the race start.
Travelers on Mexico 1 during this time will often see vehicles kicking up a cloud of dust in the distance, moving at speeds faster than highway drivers go. This is one of the only times a year you may encounter traffic on the more remote stretches of Mexico 1.
Watch the 2005 documentary Dust to Glory for a fascinating inside look at the sport.