Mexico’s Day of the Dead tradition fascinates locals and foreigners alike. What might seem like a practice rooted in morbidness is actually a light-filled, flower-drenched extravaganza of friends, family and strangers celebrating the life of those who have passed on before us, and those of us still here on earth, enjoying life’s sweet nectar.
Celebrations across the country fight for the superlative of best Day of the Dead celebration when in truth, each is distinct and yet familiar all at once.
In the town of Tzintzuntzan, Michoacán, one of the most famous and long-standing Día de Muertos celebrations begins its festivities on November 1st when families gather to decorate gravestones and build altars to honour their loved ones in the town’s cemetery. They say the wind may pick up on nearby Lake Patzuaro as departed souls are swept back to earth by the scent of cempasuchil and their favourite foods. A candlelit vigil at dawn sends them home again.
Playa del Carmen
You might not think of Playa del Carmen as a Day of the Dead destination, but why not enjoy its 26°C fall weather and The Festival of Life and Death Traditions put on by Xcaret? From October 30 - November 2, Xcaret celebrates Mayan rituals and traditions with 250 musical and theatrical performances, 15,000 candles, 2,368 bouquets and 39 ofrendas, or ritual displays. There are activities for kids, cooking classes, workshops and art, as well as an end-of-event gala with world-renown performers.
San Miguel de Allende
A city beloved by travellers, San Miguel de Allende has a lively Day of the Dead celebration with large public altars erected in the central plaza and guided walks through the local cemetery. San Miguel’s La Calaca Festival (October 30 – November 3) is a combination of the modern and ancient, local and foreign. Enjoy live music and performances by international artists, a raucous parade, and plenty of exhibits and films around the city.
Cordeila Persen (CC by 2.0)
For a deep dive into tradition, visit Oaxaca City where the streets fill with ornately painted and costumed locals celebrating the holiday with fervor. Over 2,000 graves are decorated in the city’s largest cemetery, where from October 31 - November 2, friends, family and strangers are welcome to partake in this incredible festival of life and death.
Wherever you decide to spend Día de Muertos, you can rest assured that your experience will be one you carry with you forever.
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