Celebrating the Dead: Six Must-See Dia de Los Muertos Events

Dia de los Muertos has been celebrated in Phoenix for more than 30 years, just ask veteran Chicano artists such as Zarco Guerrero and Marco Albarran.

The holiday's festivities -- including the creation and decoration of altars that honor family members and friends who have died as well as processions, prayers, celebrations and gatherings -- take place on November 2 in family homes and in public gathering spaces. This late-December, early-November Dia de Los Muertos season marks the first year of celebrations and exhibitions for some valley locations and the thirtieth for others. Here are a few over the next week you won't want to miss.

1. Ofrenda at Desert Botanical Gardens
The Desert Botanical Garden is hosting ten local artists' ofrendas (or offerings), created to honor and remember friends and family members. Artists include mask maker Zarco Guerrero, Kathy Murillo, Marco Albarran, and April Edwards, to name a few. Their offerings will be on display through November 2 and are free to view with Garden admission.

The Garden will also host its annual Procesión at 5 p.m. on October 31. The walk will begin at three locations in the garden and will culminate at the exit, where visitors are encouraged to leave offerings at the Garden's community altar. Visit the Desert Botanical Garden website for more info.

Cruces de Mi Madre by John Alejandro and Felix Vasquez at Desert Botanical Garden
Cruces de Mi Madre by John Alejandro and Felix Vasquez at Desert Botanical Garden
Photo by Claire Lawton

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2. Dia de los Muertos at Burton Barr Central Library
Through November 6, the Burton Barr Cenrtral Library,1221 N. Central Ave. in Phoenix, will have altars created by artists and community members in the @Central Gallery. The exhibition is free and open to the public during library hours. Visit the Burton Barr website for more information.

3. Juried Exhibition at Shemer Art Center
Shemer Art Center, 5005 E. Camelback Road, is hosting an all-media juried exhibition of installation artwork and altars that celebrate and reflect the holiday. The works are available for public viewing during Shemer hours though November 10, though gallery hours are subject to change. Call the gallery at 602-262-4727 before going.

4. Dia de los Muertos Celebration at Dr. A.J. Chandler Park
From 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on October, traditional music, dancing, arts and crafts, performances and food vendors will celebrate in the Chandler park, 3 S. Arizona Ave. in Chandler. This year's celebration will be the park's 31st and is hosted by Xico Inc., a collaborative community of local Chicano and Native American artists. For more information visit chandleraz.gov.

5. Third Annual Festival at Mountain Community College
Live performances, food vendors, art displays and kid zones, oh, and it's all for free. On October 30, Mountain Community College, 3000 N. Dysart Road in Avondale will host the annual festival that will run from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.. For more information visit the Mountain Community College website.

6. Festival and Showcase at Mesa Arts Center
On October 30 and 31, the Mesa Arts Center, 1 E. Main St. in Mesa, will host its fourth annual festival with hand-crafted shrines, food and arts and crafts. The celebration will go from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. both days and is free to the public. Visit the Mesa Arts Center website for more details.

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