Commonly misunderstood to be “Mexican Halloween”, Día de Muertos, or “Day of the Dead”, is an annual celebration of life and those loved ones who are no longer with us. Originally a Mexican holiday, it has since spread to other countries, including the United States. It is often confused with our Halloween as the two holidays overlap; Día de Muertos traditionally starts on October 31st and ends November 2nd. But unlike Halloween, the day is not meant to be a spooky one; rather, it’s a day of remembrance.
If you’re looking to enjoy a bit of Mexican culture with fall festivities, you’ll be able to find some great Día de Muertos events here in the States. With music, dancing, and traditional face painting, you’ll see why no October is complete without a Day of the Dead celebration.
1. Día de los Muertos Festival, Austin, Texas
October 15 – November 1 | Event Website
A day covered in skull paint actually seems kind of normal in the city that stays weird. This one day music festival features authentic traditions, live bands, face painting, and more. Best of all, children aged six and under actually get in free, making this a great way to bring the family outside. You’ll see a great mix of music blending traditional Mexican and contemporary rock, as well as traditional dancers, local businesses, and food offerings.
Aside from the music festival, Austin has a number of events through November 2. Learn more about Austin’s Day of the Dead.
2. Bare Hands Día de los Muertos Festival, Birmingham, Alabama
This family friendly affair falls on November 2nd at the local Cahabra Brewing Company. What’s unique and fun about this event is they actively ask that you, in tradition with the original festivities, bring your own altar to honor your loved ones with you. The festivities include live music and dancers, a Memorial Roll Call, and local vendors. Guests are ask to wear their best sugar skull makeup or traditional dress to add to the fun.
3. Living Arts Day of the Dead Arts Festival, Tulsa, Oklahoma
November 1 | Event Website
What better way to celebrate art than with Día de Muertos? This annual event is celebrating its 22nd year and is still going strong. This fun event hosts community art with a mural competition that anyone can enter, live traditional dancers, and exhibits dedicated to alters and local Día de Muertos-inspired artwork. You’ll also find children’s activities, local merchants, and traditional celebrations.
And if you’re as tired of this election season as I think you are, you can watch, or even participate, in the traditional Calaveras, a satirical poem offering a humorous demise to a public figure. Although certain politicians may be the main inspiration this year, other Calaveras may take written shots at celebrities and follow a specific pattern. Whether you’re here for the dancing or the traditional fun, this is a great event to join.
4. Annual South Valley Día de Muertos Marigold Parade and Celebration, Albuquerque, New Mexico
November 6 | Event Website
Now in its 24th year of running, this free parade and event brings traditional Día de Muertos fun to Albuquerque. You’ll find local parade floats, vendors, altars, and souvenir shirts. Each year has a theme, and this year is celebrating the chupacabra as a potential ally during the November election. The celebration aims to be authentic through culture, food, art, and dancing, and is a great way to spend a crisp November day before Thanksgiving and Christmas take over.