Festival of Life and Death Traditions
Where to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico
Mexico Dia de Los Muertos
Day of the Dead (Dia de Muertos) is a time when people remember and honor their deceased loved ones, with the idea that the spirits return on this one day of the year to be together with their families. Festivities take place in cities and villages throughout Mexico, though each location may have different customs and ways of honoring their dead. You can witness Day of the Dead celebrations anywhere in Mexico, but here are a few of the places where festivities are particularly colorful. So, where to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico?
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Day of the Dead Celebrations in Mexico 2021
Where to celebrate day of the dead in mexico
Oaxaca, Mexico is a magical place – and it is most magical during the annual Day of the Dead celebrations! The Day of the Dead (or Dia de los Muertos) is a festival celebrated in Mexico on October 31, November 1 and November 2, 2021. It’s found throughout Latin America, but is most associated with the parades, altars, and cemetery celebrations in Mexico. During this time, locals believe that the veil between the world of the spirits and the living is lifted, so their deceased loved ones can travel back for a visit.
Mexico City is home to the largest celebrations, including the famous Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade. But Oaxaca has some of the most spiritual and unique Dia de los Muertos traditions. The first thing that anyone will tell you about the real meaning of this holiday is that Day of the Dead is not just “Mexican Halloween.” During the night, visitors should plan to take a tour of the main pantheon of Santa Cruz Xoxocotlán. It’s the perfect opportunity to live and experience this beautiful tradition first-hand among the tombs, altars, music and colors.
Janitzio Island and Patzcuaro - Michoacán
Patzcuaro, located in the Mexican state of Michoacán has long been touted as one of the best places in Mexico to experience Dia de los Muertos. Set on the eerie Lake Pátzcuaro, locals celebrate the Night of the Dead on the evening of 1 November in cemeteries with their loved ones, lighting up the graveyards with candles and tributes. There are even contests for the most elaborately decorated altar.
It´s neighbourgh Janitzio is a small island in Patzcuaro Lake and is easily reached by boat from Patzcuaro. The island is home to the Purepecha indigenous group (sometimes called Tarascans) who have elaborate Day of the Dead rituals. There are processions and music, folk dances are performed and families gather in the cemetery to spend the night chanting and singing. Perhaps the most impressive sight is the fishermen in their rowboats with torches lighting up the lake.
Mexico City is THE place where to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico. Mexico City’s hottest Dia de Muertos celebration is not only inspired by tradition — it’s also inspired by 007: Spectre, the 2015 “James Bond” film that opens with a crowded, skull-laden procession through the city’s streets. The parade came to life in 2016 for the first time and has grown each year since, with millions attending as elegant Catrinas and colorful alebrijes (mythical creatures) march nearly three miles down the grand Paseo de la Reforma. In 2016, Mexico City held its first ever Day of the Dead parade—and it’s grown to be a celebration visitors should not miss. Giant floats, colorfully costumed entertainers, and beautifully painted skeletons, also known as catrinas, dance through the streets.
✨✨✨ Updates 2021: After the traditional Day of the Dead Parade was not held last year, due to the health emergency of the pandemic, this 2021, it will take place despite the fact that the pandemic continues. The parade runs from the Zócalo west along Avenida Paseo de la Reforma to the Bosque de Chapultepec. For a map of the Day of the Dead Parade route, click here.
The once-small-town of Mixquic in the southwest of the capital retains much of its rural ambience and folk traditions. Thanks to the strong indigenous roots found here, celebrations are imbued with a tangible sense of reverence. Cemeteries are the focus of the event with beautiful marigold and candle arrangements decorating the graves. A highlight is the street procession that follows a cardboard coffin and marks the beginning of the first all-night vigil. In the weeks leading up to Dia de Muertos, a variety of events are held including poetry readings, plays and dance performances.
San Luis Potosi
The indigenous people of La Huasteca Potosina celebrate all aspects of the Day of the Dead tradition, which they know as Xantolo. Xantolo includes all the classic celebrations: marigolds, sugar skulls, elaborate altars and skeleton decorations. But Xantolo in this region also includes festive, day-long parties in the town square starting in late October and running to early November. In this area it is also common for locals to organize and create “welcome arches” that include various offerings for visitors traveling through. Another beautiful place where to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico.
Chiapa de Corzo, Chiapas
This pleasant colonial town on the Río Grijalva is 7 miles (12 km) from Tuxtla de Gutierrez, capital of the Mexican state of Chiapas. For Day of the Dead the cemetery is decorated in a lively manner with colorful ribbons, flowers and candles. There is live music in the cemetery as families serenade the deceased on their short-lived return.
Xcaret theme park in the Riviera Maya hosts an annual Festival de la Vida y la Muerte, “Festival of Life and Death,” in honor of the Day of the Dead. The festival runs from October 30th to November 2nd, and includes theater and dance performances, concerts, conferences, parades and special tours, as well as special Day of the Dead rituals.
In Xcaret takes place the 15th edition of the Festival of Life and Death Traditions.
Festival Website: Festival of Life and Death
San Miguel de Allende
Considered one of the best places to visit in Mexico, every year this small town holds a four-day festival, known as “La Calaca,” as part of the ceremonies of Day of the Dead throughout the month of November. The festival works to promote and preserve the ancient traditions of the celebrations.
The birthplace of engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada celebrates Day of the Dead every year with the Festival de las Calaveras (Festival of Skulls) from October 28 to November 2. The festival takes place on the city fairgrounds with exhibitions of handicrafts, stands with traditional food and seasonal fruit, and varied theater productions, and concerts. The grand parade of calaveras along Aguascalientes’ Avenida Madero is a highlight of the festival. At night in early November, the “Legends of Mexico” traditional skeleton parade is held. Spectators can watch as costumed revelers make their way through the downtown streets alongside floats vividly decorated for the occasion. The crowds will stop to gawk, but then quickly join the celebration to rejoice in life right beside one another.
Festival Website: Festival de las Calaveras
Xcaret - Riviera Maya
The tradition of the Day of the Dead is present in Mexico’s Majestic Paradise. From October 30 to November 2nd, Xcaret Park is ready to welcome the souls of those who already departed and return from beyond to visit their beloved ones.
In 2021 takes place the 15th edition of the Festival of Life and Death Traditions.
San Juan Bautista Tuxtepec, Oaxaca
Tuxtepec is a small village in the state of Oaxaca. Here, you can expect the same bold, floral and traditional tributes to the deceased as you can in any of these Mexican destinations.
It does have a unique form of celebration, though; a rug-making contest. Rather than judge the handmade altars, locals spend the lead-up to Day of the Dead creating detailed sawdust rugs. They’re judged in the village square, until a winner is chosen. A very cute vtown where to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico.
Book your trip
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