Día de los Muertos is officially celebrated on November 2nd. When I started this annual post in 2015, Coco was not yet a household name, and Day of the Dead decorative items and accessories were found only at specialty shops. A LOT has changed since then. This year I wanted to focus on some of my favorite local events rooted in the Westside of San Antonio, where my own family’s roots run deep.

For those still new to the holiday, Día de Los Muertos is not to be confused with Halloween. It’s a time to honor and celebrate friends and family who have passed on; those who celebrate remember departed loved ones through pictures, the favorite foods of the departed, visiting gravesites, and ofrendas, or offerings presented on beautifully adorned altars. You can even find some local workshops listed below for those who would like to create their own altar.

Photo by Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

Saturday, October 26

Workshops at Esperanza Peace & Justice Center | Admission for each workshop: $5–10 adults, $3 children ($15–20 family rate), all on sliding scale
Paper Marigolds, 10:00–11:00 A.M. Learn from Guadalupe Segura how to make paper marigolds for your altar and Día de los Muertos celebration.
Papel Picado, 10:00–11:30 A.M. Led by Angie Merla, come learn about papel picado, how to make your own pattern, and more. Create a papel picado garland for your altar and Día de los Muertos celebration.
Sugar Skulls, 11:00 A.M.–1:00 P.M. Led Debbie Sifuentes, learn how to make sugar skulls for your altar. You’ll learn about what sugar skulls are used for and how they are traditionally decorated.
Altar Making, 12:00–1:00 P.M. Blanca Rivera will teach participants how to make an altar and the importance of the items placed on the altar.

Friday, November 1

Día de los Muertos Celebration, 5:00–11:00 P.M. at Rinconcito de Esperanza | FREE!
Celebrate the dearly departed familia, friends, and ancestors with displays of community altars, live music, face painting for children, and more. The evening will highlight readings of literary ofrendas to remember the dead and calavera poems that poke fun at the living and their untimely encounters with La Muerte or La Catrina. And now that Mujer Artes Cooperativa de Esperanza Peace & Justice Center‘s new adobe/compressed earth block studio has opened, visitors will be able to see the culmination of the women’s hard work and creative endeavors. Day of the Dead artwork by local artists will be for sale as well as hot chocolate, tamales, and the traditional pan de muerto. Vegan options will be available. Community ofrenda exhibit will be on display through November 6.

Celebrando Tradiciones/WestFest: Día de los Muertos, 6:00–11:00 P.M. at Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center | FREE!
Participate in art-making workshops, face-painting, and visit community altars at Galeria Guadalupe while enjoying pan de muerto y chocolate. Food trucks and vendors by WestFest/Urban Take Over. Performances by the Guadalupe Dance Company, Mariachi Azteca de America, Guadalupe Dance Academy, and Mariachi Academy. Altar exhibition will be on display November 1–December 15.

November 1 & 2

Muertitos Fest: Mestizo Memoria Presente, 6:00-10:30 P.M. Friday and 12:00–4:00 P.M. Saturday at SAY Sí | FREE!
This year’s theme, Mestizo, reflects the convergence of cultures and indigenous roots of this region. Festivities begin with a First Friday celebration. Enjoy exhibits, altars, festive food, and artisan booths. Participate in hands-on art activities and the family-friendly best-dressed contest or be entertained with a spirited procession as well as live musical and dance performances! Saturday you can get crafty with various folk-art workshops, get your face painted, and shop for one-of-a-kind treasures from the Muertitos Fest Artisan Mercado. Enjoy a special family program of music and performances in the SAY Sí Black Box Theatre.

Saturday, November 2

Día de los Muertos on the Old Spanish Trail, 12:00–10:00 P.M. at Centro Cultural Aztlan | FREE!
Since 1977, Centro Cultural has opened its doors to tourists and residents paying tribute to this ancient tradition with its annual exhibition Altares y Ofrendas. Beginning at noon, visitors are invited to The Old Spanish Trail, where local artists have been paired with businesses the Deco HEB on Fredericksburg at Hildebrand, to North Flores and W. Elmira. Added to this is an outdoor stage with live music featuring students from Network for Young Artists, El Conjunto Heritage Taller, El Tallercito de Son, I Ching Gatos, Juan & Armando Tejada, y Volcán. Altares y Ofrendas runs November 2–8, Monday–Friday, 9:00–5:00 P.M. Artist installations on The Old Spanish Trail on display October 28–November 15.

Día de los Muertos Procession, 6:00–8:00 P.M. at San Anto Cultural Arts | FREE!
Join the procession from the Centro at 2120 El Paso St. to the recently restored Peace & Remembrance mural at 1013 S. Trinity St. At the mural recent victims of violence will be honored with music and poetry. Bring your ofrendas y fotos for the altar. Light refreshments will be served. Email [email protected] for more info.

Photo by Centro Cultural Aztlan
Heather
Heather was born and raised in San Antonio and became a mom in 2013 and again in 2018. She never imagined she'd be raising two sons but is grateful for the opportunity! Heather enjoys the outdoors and even mowing her own lawn. She and her husband Santiago look forward to raising two feminist boys who will hopefully be better at Spanish than she is. Her professional experience since graduating from Tufts University with a degree in Art History includes working for a variety of arts and cultural nonprofit organizations, from grassroots to governmental. She spent a few years as a stay at home parent and is easing her way back into the workforce. Her dream job would be to work for Sesame Workshop, or President of the United States. In the meantime, Heather enjoys filling her family's weekends with the diversity San Antonio has to offer.

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