Dia de los Muertos 2016: Here Are 9 Ways to Celebrate in Metro Phoenix

Día de los Muertos is coming. Here's how to celebrate.
Día de los Muertos is coming. Here's how to celebrate.
betto rodrigues / Shutterstock.com

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a day to mourn and pay respects to the dearly departed. It's a longstanding Mexican tradition that can be traced to the Aztecs. In Mexico, this day is celebrated on November 2 by going to the cemetery and staying overnight next to a beloved one’s tomb. Graves are decorated with fresh flowers and candlelight. These family-centered and solitary celebrations have also  developed into larger festivals and community events, many of which take place in metro Phoenix.

So, what to expect for Día de los Muertos in Phoenix? Art, music, procesiones (marches to burial sites) and altares de muertos (altars for the dead). An altar de muertos serves to guide the souls of the dead back to Earth for one day. An altar could include photos, candlelight, crucifix, incense, sugar skulls, and ofrendas (offerings) with the person's favorite food and drinks.

Here's your guide to celebrating the holiday with events all around the Valley.

Día de los Muertos altar in Mesa Arts Center.EXPAND
Día de los Muertos altar in Mesa Arts Center.
Ofelia Montelongo

Día de los Muertos Festival: Spirits Connect
Mesa Arts Center hosts its annual Day of the Dead festival with live entertainment and a colorful mercado full of an assortment of jewelry, arts and crafts, and Día de los Muertos merchandise. The festivities also feature a community altar where individuals and families can participate. The altar is presented by Mesa Arts Center in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico and the Mesa Association of Hispanic Citizens. The event takes place from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday, October 22,  and from noon to 5 p.m. on Sunday, October 23. The festival is free and open to the public. For more information, visit the festival website.

"Unforgettable: A Time of Remembrance"
Remember your loved ones while visiting the Burton Barr Central Library, where guests can enjoy altars inspired by the theme “Unforgettable: A Time of Remembrance.” The exhibit takes place from Sunday, October 16, through Saturday, November 5, at the first-floor gallery. There will also be an artists' reception night on Friday, November 4, from 6:30 to 8 p.m., with a traditional dance performance by Ballet Folklorico. For more information, visit the Phoenix Public Library website.

Performers at Desert Botanical Garden's 2014 celebration.EXPAND
Performers at Desert Botanical Garden's 2014 celebration.
Leavitt Wells / Leave it to Leavitt Photography

Día de los Muertos Celebration at Desert Botanical Garden
Music, dance, and storytelling are included in this celebration. It starts with the "Ofrenda Exhibition" on October 21 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m., with altars created by local artists. The celebration continues with a two-day event on October 29 and 30 from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. La Procesión starts at 5 p.m. The event also features live entertainment, a community altar, and a mercado. Entrance is included with your paid admission to the garden or with membership. General admission to the garden is $22 for adults, $20 for seniors, $12 for students, $10 for children (3 to 12), and free for children under 3 years old. For more information, visit the Desert Botanical Garden website.

Día de los Muertos PHX Festival
Cultural Coalition presents its Fifth Annual Día de los Muertos PHX Festival at Steele Indian School Park. The free event will feature The Flight of Quetzalcoatl, La Llorona, and Las Flacas. La Procesión starts at 5:30 p.m. There will also be food, an artist mercado, face painting, arts activities, and entertainers with performances in music, dance, and theater. At the community altar, attendees can place a photo or memento of your late loved one. The interactive festival will take place on Sunday, October 23, from noon to 6 p.m. For more information, please visit the festival website.

Dia de los Muertos 2016: Here Are 9 Ways to Celebrate in Metro Phoenix
Shawn Goldberg/Shutterstock.com

Día de los Muertos: La Cumbia No Muere
Spend your evening dancing cumbias at the Arizona Latino Arts & Cultural Center. The event includes mariachi, artists painting, food and art vendors, a tequila class and tasting, and altars. The family-friendly event takes place at 147 East Adams Street on Friday, October 28, from 5 p.m. to midnight. Admission is $5. For more information, visit the Facebook event.

Read on for more festivals across the Valley — and a 5K.



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