Dia de los Muertos, translated to Day of the Dead, is a spooky yet exciting celebration. This lively occasion originated in Mexico but is now celebrated all throughout Latin America and other parts of the world. You can find any Day of the Dead festival going on in any city in Mexico, but there are several spectacular events you don’t want to miss.

Day of the Dead decorations at the Mercado Hidalgo market in Tijuana

Day of the Dead usually starts on November 1st, but some places start on October 31st (America’s Halloween holiday) and last for a couple days. Day of the Dead should not be confused with Halloween, Dia de las Brujas, for they are completely separate holidays.

Dia de los Muertos is a day that honors the dead through a series of festivals and parties that involve food, drinks, music, and more. The idea is for everyone to enjoy the greatest aspects of life that the dead spirits are missing out on.

Many major cities have various festivals and celebrations. We’ve highlighted the best events and parties taking place on this deathly day. So join in on the fun as dressing up like a dead person while celebrating life!

Top 6 Day of the Dead Events in Mexico

Festival Cultural de Calaveras

Date: Friday, October 27th-Sunday, November 5th

Time: Various times of the day

Location: Aguascalientes (center of the city)

Photo credit: Festival de Calaveras

If you’re looking for one of the greatest Day of the Dead parades and festivals, don’t miss the Festival Cultural de Calaveras in Aguascalientes! This city is said to be the origin of the Catrina (the feminine lady skull head). Ever since 1994, the previous colonial city has been celebrating Day of the Dead with a grand parade and tons of activities. Learn more about the events taking place this year and be sure to join the other 700,000 people that come to this event!

Hanal Pixan de Merida

Date: Monday, October 23rd-Monday, October 30th

Time: Various times of the day

Location: Merida, Yucatan

Photo credit: Yucatan de la Mano

If you’re planning a trip to the Yucatan Peninsula during this time, you won’t want to miss the Day of the Dead celebration in Merida. Only a 3.5 hour drive away from Cancun, Merida celebrates the traditional Dia de los Muertos of the Mayan people. In the Mayan culture, Hanal Pixan, known as “food for the soul”, is like Day of the Dead, but it’s celebrated in a different way.

Families display portraits of loved ones who have passed and they cook a huge meal for them, which includes mucbipollo. Mucbipollo is a traditional Yucatan dish that is similar to a tamale only it is larger and wrapped in a banana leaf instead of a corn husk. If you’re vacationing in Cancun, Playa del Carmen, or anywhere else in the Yucatan state, you won’t want to miss out on these delicious Day of the Dead celebrations!

Day of the Dead Celebration in Oaxaca

Date: Monday, October 30th-Thursday, November 2nd

Time: Various times throughout the day

Location: City of Oaxaca

Oaxaca is known for having one of the biggest Day of the Dead celebrations in all of Mexico. You will not want to miss out on viewing their elaborate altars and the candle displays at many of the oldest sanctuaries and grave sites. Another neat artistic display found in Oaxaca are sand tapestries that depict different scenes or a loved one who has been deceased.

Pan de Muerto. Photo credit: Oaxaca Mio

If you plan on visiting Oaxaca for Day of the Dead, be sure to pick up a slice of pan de muerto, which translates to “bread of the dead.” This special type of bread is made from egg yolks and there are funky designs or human heads iced on the outside of the flatbread. Try a bite, if you dare!

Calacas El Festival

Date: Thursday, November 2nd

Time: 2pm-9pm

Location: Pasaje Gomez Mall

Photo credit: Calacas El Festival

Calacas El Festival is a traditional ‘Day of the Dead’ festival. Have you ever seen the painted skull heads? This is the festival where everyone is literally the walking dead. You’ll see faces painted into funky skulls and festival goers wearing medieval dresses. This Calacas Festival will be celebrated inside of the Pasaje Gomez mall. Be sure to check it out and do a little shopping in between.

Festival of Life and Death Traditions

Date: Monday, October 30th-Thursday, November 2nd

Time: Various times of the day

Location: Xcaret, Riviera Maya

Photo credit: Festival of Life and Death Traditions – Xcaret

If you’re planning to be on the Yucatan Peninsula and you’re looking for a Day of the Dead celebration closer to Cancun, check out this one at Xcaret. Xcaret is a historical park turned into a tourist amusement. They take visitors through some of the Mayan ruins and hold many cultural events on site.

Each year, they have a Day of the Dead celebration, known as the Festival of Life and Death Traditions. During the four days of the celebration, there are plenty of events such as special cultural performances, catered dinners, exhibitions and workshops, and musical acts. This is definitely a great family friendly venue and your kids will enjoy the spectacular activities!

Altar Ceremonies at Mercado Hidalgo

Date: Every day in October until November 3rd

Time: Anytime during the day

Location: Mercado Hidalgo

Mercado Hidalgo in downtown Tijuana

It’s the time of year to go shopping for sugar candied skulls, altars for the dead, and other skull-themed decoration. Mercado Hidalgo, a famous and iconic open market in Tijuana, always sells the best decorations and supplies for every ‘Day of the Dead’ party. Lots of people not only like coming to shop and bargain for the best skull trinkets, but they also enjoy watching the altar ceremonies that take place throughout the day.

Here are some photos we took from our most recent tour! :

Las Catrinas at the Mercado Hidalgo market in Tijuana

Decorative Day of the Dead skulls

Come see people dressed up in colorful costumes give offerings to the dead as they celebrate and feast!

If you’re looking to celebrate Day of the Dead in Tijuana, don’t hesitate to book a tour with Baja Winery Tours!

We can customize any tour so while you see the sights in Tijuana, you can partake in the fun festivities with a local guide and private ride.

Learn more about our Tijuana tours here.

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