Experience Dia De Los Muertos in Mexico City

Mexico City sets the scene for one of the most important holidays in Mexico — Dia de Los Muertos, or Day of the Dead. This ancestral tradition dates back to pre-Hispanic Mexico, with roots originating in the cultures of Mesoamerica. Over time, these traditions were blended with Catholic beliefs to give rise to the holiday we know today, celebrated across Mexico.

For American travelers, Mexico City is one of the easiest international destinations to access, thanks to thousands of non-stop flights. Benito Juarez International Airport is one of the main hubs of Latin America, with direct U.S. flights from Los Angeles, Miami, New York, Chicago, Houston, and several other major cities.

The central pillar of the celebration is remembering the lives of those no longer living. Loved ones and family members take to cemeteries and each other’s homes with offerings of flowers, water, photographs of the deceased, their favorite food and drink, and other items that help to remember those who passed. The celebration is so integral to Mexican culture that UNESCO has established it as a Cultural and Intangible Heritage of Humanity, and nowhere in Mexico celebrates Day of the Dead as vibrantly and passionately as Mexico City. This year’s celebration promises to be just as magical, poignant, and beautiful as ever.

The Mexican flag and Dia de los Muertos decor by Antonio Lapa – Unsplash

The month-long celebration kicked off on October 6th with the Festival de la Llorona en el Embarcadero de Cuemanco, which took place on the canals of Xochimilco, the Venice of the Americas. The evening show takes place aboard the colorful trajineras and includes a performance on the legend of La Llorona (The Crying Woman).

On October 18th, the Festival de las Flores de Cempasúchil takes over Paseo de la Reforma with thousands of brilliantly colored marigolds illuminating the path of the dead. It is estimated that five million marigold flowers will be produced this season.

Marigolds in Mexico City by Roger Ce – Unsplash

October 21st marks one of the most highly anticipated events of Day of the Dead in Mexico City: the Desfile de Alebrijes Monumentales, a parade of giant puppets that measure up to eight feet tall. Alebrijes are gorgeous works of art that blur the lines between reality and surrealism. They have become one of the most time-honored traditions of Mexico City’s Day of the Dead.

Catrina’s parade in Mexico City by Salvador Altamirano – Unsplash

The parade is a precursor to the next magnificent event. The following day, October 22nd, begins the Mega Procesion de Catrinas. This spectacle is a massive parade that begins at the Angel of Independence in Reforma and ends at the Zocalo, in the heart of the Centro Historico. Hundreds of gorgeous Catrinas take to the streets, with hauntingly beautiful painted faces, elaborate costumes, flowers, and music. La Catrina is the primary figure of Day of the Dead, a representation of an Aztec figure, The Goddess of Death, who was later popularized by engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada.

Engines rev on October 26th at the Formula 1 Mexico City Grand Prix, one of the most important events in professional car racing.

Colorful skulls by Sam Brand – Unsplash

All of this is, of course, a build-up to the actual Day of the Dead. Celebrated between October 31st and November 5th, this is when the offerings are made to the dearly departed. In Mexico City, the Zocalo hosts an Ofrenda Monumental, or massive offering that fills the entire plaza with altars, flowers, incense, photographs, and much more. Thousands of people take to the streets dressed as zombies for another festive, colorful, decked-out parade.

All are invited to participate in the events spread out over the month of October. Celebrations are held in every city across the country. But there is no better place in Mexico to experience Dia de Los Muertos than in the beautiful, vibrant, exciting capital city.

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