By Julie R Butler
Día de Muertos is an important tradition in Mexico that takes place 2 November. It also incorporates Día de los Angelitos on 1 November, when many Mexican families honor infants and children who have passed away, making it a multi-day observance rather than just a single day affair, as the name implies. But wait – it’s actually a three-day celebration that begins on 31 October, the day dedicated to creating the ofrendas that attract the spirits of the dead to visit, according to some regional traditions.
Then there’s Mexico City, where Day of the Dead has morphed into an entire month-long festival season that has been drawing international attention for its massive, carnival-like events.
Here is the lineup of the biggest 2019 Día de Muertos events in Mexico City to watch out for, whether you’re able to be there live and in person or you would like to observe the spectacles from afar.
Saturday 19 October: Parade of Giant Alebrijes, Zócalo, 12 am
Having started out as the fever dreams of artisan Pedro Linares, alebrijas have come alive in Mexican culture, first as colorful, fantastical folk art and then as the giant sculptures parading through the streets of Mexico City. The annual Desfile de Alebrijes Monumentales is organized by the Museo de Arte Popular to honor Mexico’s vibrant folk art traditions. The parade is scheduled to start at the Zócalo at noon.
Photo by Thelmadatter, CC BY-SA 3.0
Saturday 19 October: Marcha Zombie, Monument to the Revolution, 10 am
On the same day as the alebrije parade, the dead will come alive in the streets of Mexico City! The CDMX Zombie March begins at 10 am at the Monumento a la Revolución. Organized by Unidos Distribuimos y Transformamos, this horde of ghouls comes out each year to have fun and make food donations for distribution to those in need.
Photo by Andrevruas, CC BY-SA 3.0
Saturday 26 October: Mega Procession of Catrinas, Paseo de la Reforma, 6 pm
Long before the rise of zombies in today’s popular culture, Mexico’s elegantly dressed skeletons, known as calavera Catrinas, were common features of Day of the Dead celebrations throughout Mexico, often imbued with a social critique. Although you’re bound to see plenty of faces with colorful Catrina designs at Muertos-themed festivities across the globe this year, there’s nothing quite like the joyful Mega Procesión de Catrinas in the heart of Mexico City.
Sunday 27 October: International Day of the Dead Parade, Zócalo, 2 pm
This year, the fourth annual Desfile Internacional de Muertos has the slogan, “A Gift of Mexican Songs and Flowers for the World,” and it has a new route. Its goal is to showcase Mexico’s vibrant and diverse culture on the world stage. Allegorical floats, giant marionettes, and over a thousand participants make it Mexico’s biggest parade.
Saturday 2 November: Grand Day of the Dead Parade, Paseo de la Reforma, 4 pm
El Gran Desfile de Día de Muertos occurs on the actual Day of the Dead, and it is the parade that was inspired by the 2015 James Bond movie Spectre. It starts later in the day, and rather than beginning at the Zócalo, like the international parade, it ends up there. Also, instead of having a grand theme or cultural tradition behind it, this parade is a giant celebration of how younger generations of Mexicans are able to take an age-old tradition and make it their own!