The trickiest thing about enjoying Dia de los Muertos in 2020 is how to celebrate during a pandemic. Like Fiesta, the official City of San Antonio celebrations are off, and throwing a blow-out bash or parading through the neighborhood can quickly turn into a COVID super-spreader event.
Instead, Alamo City is offering up many socially distant ways to honor the dearly departed. From virtual altars to at-home sugar skull kits, here are the six best ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos — pandemic edition.
Dia de los Muertos Fest — October 31
This year, Dia de los Muertos Fest is trading Hemisfair for a virtual celebration, but it's promising a rocking lineup. As of press time, organizers have yet to announce specific details for the eighth annual event, but they did reveal it will include a virtual altar montage and live performances. Shoppers can also support local (and treat yourself) with a truly unique online marketplace. Stay tuned to the festival's Facebook and Instagram pages for more lineup details as the event gets closer, and remember to save the date for 2021 when the tradition returns to Hemisfair.
Zoo Boo — now through October 31
San Antonio Zoo
This family-friendly event focuses more on the treats and less on the tricks, offering a non-scary alternative every weekend through Halloween. Little ones can take part in a trick-or-treat station sponsored by H-E-B or try pumpkin painting, dance parties, or a romp through a hay maze. Make sure the kids don a costume to enter the best dressed contest for a chance to win zoo prizes. For those who prefer a truly socially distant experience, the Drive-thru Zoo Boo lets families trick or treat from the comfort of the car.
Included with the price of admission to the San Antonio Zoo.
Hallowfest — now through November 1
Six Flags Fiesta Texas
Six Flags has all sorts of thrills to help you celebrate the spooky season. By day, enjoy live music across two stages, a trick-or-treat station with individually packaged candy (an important distinction in this time of COVID-19), and specialty treats for purchase across the park such as a "bloody" churro sundae and pumpkin spice funnel cake. On Saturday night, take part in the park's seedier side at one of four scary attractions. Grab a pitchfork and wander through a dilapidated farm where patrons can expect creepy encounters, or a visit a once-tranquil town now overtaken by creatures from another world. Reservations are required, and remember to leave those Halloween masks at home. (Face coverings to stop the spread of coronavirus are not included in the mask ban.)
$29.99 and up. Book online for a discount.
Altars — through November 8
Mexican Cultural Institute, Carver Community Cultural Center, and Pearl
This year, both the Mexican Cultural Institute and the Carver Community Cultural Center are creating two very special altars, which can viewed virtually via social media. The Mexican Cultural Institute will honor Manuel Felguérez, an abstract artist and arts supporter in his native Mexico. Felguérez died this summer from COVID-19. At the Carver Center, San Antonio-based artist Kaldric Dow will construct a memorial to those who have lost their lives fighting for social justice. The Pearl has also tapped a local artist to construct its memorial. Jon Hinojosa, artistic executive director of SAY Sí, will construct a four-sided altar "representing the four stages of life, the four points of the earth, the four seasons, and the four mathematical points upon which the pyramids were built." Masks are required while visiting the altar, and SAY Sí has also created an app where visitors can virtually leave names of their own loved ones.
Say Sí presents Muertitos Fest: Amor y Esperanza — November 1-30
Speaking of SAY Sí, its annual Muertitos Fest is going digital this year and will be transformed into a month-long digital event that launches November 1. Take part in virtual workshops, get holiday shopping done early at the online local makers mercado, catch live music and art, or participate in a community-built altar.
Free, but please consider donating to the nonprofit arts organization.
Touch-Free Family Day See + Do: Dia de los Muertos — November 1 and November 3
San Antonio Museum of Art
Pick up an exclusive art kit at the San Antonio Museum of Art with everything needed to construct a sugar skull. While picking up your kit, take a self-guided scavenger hunt through the museum's Latin American galleries or draw a personalized La Catrina on scratch art paper.
Free with price of museum admission. Kits are first come, first served.