Day of the Dead is the most important celebration in Mexico. The festival mainly takes place on Día de Todos los Santos (All Saints’ Day; November 1) when the souls of dead children (angelitos, little angels) are celebrated and is lead-up to the day Dia de Difuntos (All Souls’ Day; November 2) but the preparations usually begins couple of days or even weeks before in October. This article will provide complex information on places and events not to miss while in Mexico during the celebrations of Day of the Dead.
Ofrendas – Day of the Dead OfferingS
Every family and every institution in Mexico builds ofrendas = offerings or altars for their dead. There are excellent articles listing all the offering for Dia de Muertos in Mexico City for previous couple of years and I recommend to check it or find updated version for actual year:
- Offerings for Day of the Dead in Mexico City in 2011 [download PDF snapshot]
- Offerings for Day of the Dead in Mexico City in 2010 [download PDF snapshot]
- Offerings for Day of the Dead in Mexico City in 2009 [download PDF snapshot]
The offering that you can see in the video was respectfully prepared in a Mexican home. It includes sugar and chocolate skulls as well as Catrinas made of caramel, colorful flowers and a Mexican traditional folk art involving cutting out patterns on colorful papers etc.
Places to see On Dia de Muertos in Mexico City
Every cemetery in the country comes alive as families visit graveyards to commune with their dead on the night of November 1 and the day of November 2, when the souls of the dead are believed to return to earth. Elaborate ofrendas (altars) show up everywhere from public markets to metro stations.
According to Lonely Planet’s book about Mexico City and other sources, some of the best ofrendas are at:
- the Anahuacalli Mueseum [download 2011 PDF program]
- and the Museo Dolores Olmedo Patiño [web Ofrenda de Muertos 2011]
- a contest for the most creative ofrenda is held at the Zócalo [video Alebrijes Zocalo 2011]
- huge ofrenda “The Tree of the Dead Florida” is built at the Zócalo [but not in 2011 due to city budget cuts]
- major vigils take place in the Panteón Civil de Dolores cemetery [video Panteón Dolores en el Día de Muertos in TerraTV]
- in the Bosque de Chapultepec’s 2a Sección [video En el olvido panteones del DF]
- and at San Andres Mixquic, in the extreme southeast of the Distrito Federal [video report]
Map of Dia de Muertos 2011 in Mexico City
The best places that are highly recommended to visit in Mexico City, Distrito Federal are listed in the map, together with detailed schedule of events taking place around Federal District in Mexico. The map is valid for 2011, however many places might have similar schedule every year. All the places mentioned in this article are included in the map.
View Dia de los Muertos 2011 in a larger map
Map of Dia de Muertos 2010 in Mexico City
The best places with public offerings organized by the municipal governments of delegations in Mexico City, Distrito Federal are listed in the map, together with detailed schedule of events taking place. The map is valid for 2010, however many places might have similar schedule every year.
View Día de Muertos 2010 in a larger map
San Andres Mixquic
This small magic village “bariio magico” is definitely a highly recommended place to be at for the Day of the Dead celebrations. Here, the holiday is celebrated as a spiritual or religious affair, rather than as a folk tradition celebrated in the urban areas of the Mexico City. Commemorations consist of both ritual and cultural events lasting from 31 October to 2 November. These events draw thousands of Mexican and international visitors, and culminate in the Alumbrada, when the cemetery that surrounds the community’s main church glows with thousands of candles and smoke from incense the evening of 2 November.
There are several excellent sources to check before you visit the village:
- [ES] San Andres Mixquic – barrio magico – usual schedule of the traditions from October31 to November 2 every year
- [ES] Día de Muertos en San Andes Mixquic – official website of Mexquic with official schedule beginning on October 22 with Cultural week program [download pdf]
- [EN] San Adres Mixquic at Wikipedia – Day of the Dead celebration and explanation with schedule from October 30 to November 2 every year
- [ES] San Andrés Mixquic Distrito Federal – Mexican touristic guide for Day of the Dead and places of interest
- [ES] Día de muertos en Mixquic : Columna Pulso Político – an article about the magical village
- [ES] San Andrés Mixquic Tourist Guide - explanation about ofrendas in San Andrés Mixquic
- [EN] Dia de Muertos: 5 places to celebrate – recommendations for Mixquic and other popular places to celebrate Day of the Dead
Teatro Miquiztli Casa de Cultura Calterela
A local theater in Mixquic has some fine performances from 29 October to 2 November. The official program for 2011 can be seen in the pictures below. Updated version might be find at the official website of Misquic.
MEGA-OFRENDA IN UNAM – Festival universitario
Every year Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico organizes huge competition of offerings built by students of different schools and departments of UNAM. Offerings are displayed at Explanada Central de La Ciudad Universitaria usually from 28 October to 2 November. Try following links to obtain up-to-date information:
- MEGAOFRENDA 2011 - La Facultad de Filosofía y Letras [download JPG mirror]
- MEGAOFRENDA 2011 - official event page of UNAM
- MEGAOFRENDA 2011 – official schedule for 2011 [download PDF from mirror]