TRADITIONALLY celebrated on November 1 and 2 in Mexico, Día de los Muertos serves as a celebration of life, Hispanic heritage and culture, and a way to honor the passing of loved ones and ancestors. “It’s important for us to keep our traditions alive,” said Luis Gavito, the curator for the Día de Los Muertos altar (ofrenda) at local community organization MECA’s annual Day of the Dead festival. “We live in a climate where people look down on immigrants, and kids need to be proud of their roots and traditions, and not be ashamed of them.”
Día de los Muertos, which translates to Day of the Dead, traditionally celebrates ancestors and those who have departed by creating ofrendas that display decorative sugar skulls, photos of deceased relatives, and cherished objects of loved ones. According to Gavito, some believe that on this day, the line between life and death is so thin that the spirits can cross over.
Mark your calendars from late October through early November for some (mostly) family-friendly Día de los Muertos events around town.
OCTOBER 29 & 30, 11 A.M. | DOW SCHOOL, FREE
This year, MECA’S twenty-second annual Day of the Dead festival takes place October 29 and 30 at the Historic Dow School. It’s a free event, but once inside the grounds, guests can buy food and merchandise from vendors. Those attending will be greeted with live entertainment and a community ofrenda exhibition that features a special altar to honor the twenty-one lives lost in the Robb Elementary School shooting in Uvalde earlier this year.
NOVEMBER 5, 2 P.M. | SAM HOUSTON PARK, FREE
Houstonians can enjoy the second year of this free and family-friendly event November 5 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m. at Sam Houston Park. There will be live music, concessions, arts and crafts, and a chance to walk in the parade from 7 to 8 p.m. The parade is open to anyone interested, as long as you’re dressed authentically and respecting the holiday’s pageantry and traditions. Houston leaders will also be honored during the celebration for their service to the city.
OCTOBER 30, 3 P.M. | DISCOVERY GREEN, FREE
On October 30 from 3 to 7 p.m., Discovery Green and Houston Arts Alliance will present another year of festive celebrations at the downtown park. A screening of Pixar’s Coco will happen at 3 p.m. for the whole family to enjoy and let out a good cry. Visitors are encouraged to bring photos and recuerdos (meaning “memories” or objects of their loved ones) to a community ofrenda. Local vendors, live music, and art activities will also be available throughout the evening.
OCTOBER 29, 10 A.M. | MAGNOLIA PARK, FREE
This community-run Día de los Muertos festival, now in its ninth year, will again be held in Houston’s “first barrio,” the historic East End Latino neighborhood Magnolia Park, on October 29. Beginning with a parade at 10 a.m., expect live music, a larger-than-ever community altar (still accepting submissions of loved ones’ photos until October 23), a local artist exhibition, and more throughout the day. The event will take place at Hidalgo Park and will be emceed by ABC 13’s Rita Garcia.
NOVEMBER 2, 6:30 P.M. | XOCHI, $110
Tickets to the Mezcal Dinner might be on the high side ($110), but if you’re looking for an authentic Día de los Muertos dining experience, Mexican restaurant, Xochi is offering a variety of traditional Oaxacan dishes and drinks like mezcal, tequila, and Mexican craft beers on the evening of November 2. The five-course dinner at 7 p.m. will follow a reception at 6:30 p.m.
NOVEMBER 2, 6:30 P.M. | URBE, $55
Another festival fit for the foodies (but a little less formal) will be held at Urbe in Uptown on November 2 from 6:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. There will be live music and authentic Mexican street food, custom drinks made with tequila or sangria, and plenty of Mexican desserts like tres leches and flan. Come dressed in your most festive Day of the Dead costume for the contest. If you don’t already have an outfit, not to worry; you can get your face painted at the event.
NOVEMBER 1 THROUGH 6, 10 A.M. | CHILDREN’S MUSEUM HOUSTON, $15
Children’s Museum Houston is offering a whole week of Day of the Dead-themed craft activities at the museum from November 1-6, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m, including marigold garlands and other projects for ofrendas. On November 5, a mariachi band will perform throughout the museum from noon to 1 p.m., and a sugar skull art workshop on November 6 will be hosted by local Latino artist Christian Navarrete.