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The Best Día De Los Muertos Events Happening Around Los Angeles
Each year, Los Angeles is host to a variety of excellent Día de los Muertos celebrations that honor those who have passed on, and many begin the festivities this weekend. From elaborate ceremonial altars and traditional dances to live music, art installations and delicious food—can't forget about all of the pan de muerto and sugar skull cookies—there is plenty to see and do. Many of the events offer opportunities for people of all ages to get involved in the celebrating—including many that encourage you to put on your best calavera (skull) and calaca (skeleton) costumes and makeup. We're rounded up some of our favorite Día de los Muertos events around town for you to check out. And, of course, let us know of any that you plan on attending in the comment section.
Hollywood Forever Cemetery
One of the city's biggest—if not the biggest—Día De Los Muertos festivals fittingly takes place in a beautiful, historic cemetery. The 12-hour event begins at noon on Saturday, Oct. 24 and features something for everyone: three stages of music and performances, elaborate ceremonial altars, Aztec dancers, art exhibitions, crafts vendors, tons of delicious food vendors and bars with beer, wine and liquor. The extensive musical line-up this year includes Grammy-winning singer Lila Downs, the nine-piece La Misa Negra from Oakland and El Mariachi Manchester from East L.A. who play a Mariachi tribute to the music of The Smiths/Morrissey. There will also be a grand ceremonial procession at 1 p.m. and a costume contest for the best-dressed calaca, so come wearing your finest. The theme for the festival's 16th anniversary is "Shamanic Visions of the Huichol." Tickets are $20 and more info can be found here.
Skull purse, no big deal. (Photo courtesy Grand Park)
Downtown L.A.'s Grand Park will host free Día De Los Muertos celebrations and installations from Oct. 24 to Nov. 2, presented by L.A.-based non-profit Self-Help Graphics & Art. More than 50 altars and art installations will be on display throughout the park, designed and built by L.A.-based artists. The festivities kick off on Saturday, Oct. 24 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m with dance performances from traditional Mexica-Aztec dance by Danza Chicomecoatl of Boyle Heights and the creation of a giant community altar under the guidance of master altar maker Ofelia Esparza. There will also be performances from L.A. arts venue Casa 0101 and music from El Rio featuring L.A.’s Melissa Uribe and Bryan Diaz. There will also be plenty of food trucks for chowing down. Find out more here.
An altar and performers at Hollywood Forever (via Facebook)
Historic Olvera Street is not one to shy from a big celebration. This year's days-long Día De Los Muertos festival will run weekends from Oct. 25 to Nov. 2. and feature activities for all ages. They'll be hosting nightly candlelight Novenario processions at 7 p.m. to honor deceased loved ones, followed by free pan de muerto (sweet bread) and champurrado (a Mexican hot beverage) for visitors. On Saturdays and Sundays from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. there will also be "face painting, street theater performances, strolling mariachi bands, Aztec dancers, art workshops, puppets, ballet folklorico, piñatas" and more. There will also be community altars (las ofrendas) and family altars on display in the Plaza and in shops along the street. More information can be found here.
Painted skull awards for top runners at Carrera de los Muertos (via Facebook)
Carrera de los Muertos / Run of the Dead
For those looking to burn off some of those delicious pan de muertos and sugar skulls, there's the inaugural Carrera de los Muertos/Run of the Dead 5k taking place on October 31. The scenic route begins on Main Street near Olvera Street and runs through Chinatown, then along Alameda St. and back again to Olvera. There will be face painting before the event and an official runners altar, and following the run there will be plenty of food, music and dancing. More information and registration can be found here.
San Pedro's Día de los Muertos Festival
This year's festival in Historic Downtown San Pedro will take place on Sunday, Nov. 1st on 6th Street between Mesa and Centre streets. The event takes place from 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. and will feature a sacred alter exhibition and competition, a local artists village with calaveras and calacas artwork, handmade jewelry, clothing and more, as well as performances and face-painting throughout the day. There will also be lots of food from local restaurants and other vendors. More info can be found here.
Puppets from Self Help Graphics & Art's procession (via Facebook)
Self Help Graphics & Art
One of the oldest Día de los Muertos commemorations in Los Angeles, Self Help Graphics & Art is hosting events throughout the month—including the festival at Grand Park mentioned above—culminating with the 42nd annual main event on Nov. 1. The day starts with a gathering at Boyle Heights' Mariachi Plaza at 3 p.m. and a ceremonial procession at 4 p.m. to Self Help headquarters at 1300 E 1st St. The festivities will include ceremonial blessings, face painting, as well as food and crafts vendors. There will also be performances by soul legend Brenton Wood, along with Barrio Stomp, Sin Color and El-Haru Kuroi. Calacas attire is strongly encouraged. Find out more here.
This family-friendly Día de los Muertos celebration takes place in the largest cemetery in the country on Sunday, Nov. 1 from 11:30 am to 4:30 pm. The day will include a traditional procession with Aztec dancers and feature tons of decorated altars throughout the gardens and courtyard. There will also be a plaza with food and drinks, a clothing and crafts marketplace, an exhibition featuring local artists and musical and dance performances throughout the day. Find out more about the day here.
Downey Día de los Muertos Festival
Downey's third annual indoor-outdoor festival is packed with performances, art, food and more throughout the day on Nov. 1. The huge and free event will include three stages featuring Ballet Folklorico performers, traditional Aztec dances, film screenings, folk and jazz bands and more. There will be tons of food vendors, a beer and wine garden, face painting, an altar contest, an art exhibition and crafts for sale. Learn more here.
El Velorio (via Facebook)
If you miss out any of the earlier celebrations or want to continue the festivities further, this annual Lincoln Heights bash takes place on Nov. 7. El Velorio will take over the famous Plaza De La Raza for an evening of music, art, food and more. From 4 p.m. to 10 p.m. there will be an all ages section featuring calavera face painting, food and craft vendors, DIY art projects with ceramic or sugar skull paintings, and a chance to contribute to a community altar. From 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., the 21+ portion of the night will feature food and alcohol, two stages of music—including La Sonora Dinamita, Santos De Los Angeles and Casa de Calacas—and an art gallery curated by Antonio Pelayo, head of Disney's Special Effects department. More info and tickets for the 21+ portion can be found here.