Honoring the dearly departed

Alamo City comes alive with spirited events honoring Dia de los Muertos

Alamo City comes alive via spirited events honoring Dia de los Muertos

Catrinas on the River Parade
Dia de los Muertos will be a celebration to remember in San Antonio this year. Photo courtesy of Day of the Dead San Antonio

Break out the sugar skulls and marigolds, San Antonio. It’s time to get in the spirit of Dia de los Muertos with a variety of local events that pay homage to the city’s rich heritage while also honoring lost loved ones.

San Antonio has no shortage of Dia de los Muertos festivities and lively cultural activities unfolding this October and early November, including some returning with in-person gatherings for the first time since the onset of the pandemic.

So don your most spectacular face paint and colorful ensemble, and get ready to observe Dia de los Muertos in magnificent style at these 10 local celebrations.

Muertos Fest at Hemisfair
This free two-day festival, one of San Antonio’s favorites, is back for its ninth year, merging traditional elements with a multi-stage lineup of live bands and dance and poetry performances, as well as a fashion procession, family workshops, a living altar, and a ton of art vendors. It all takes place at Hemisfair October 23-24.

Burial Ground: Exploring African American Resting Places
Hosted by the San Antonio African American Community Archive and Museum, this walking tour will explore City Cemetery #3, covering a 1-mile trek through the grounds to uncover the buried history and honor the lives of local African American icons buried there. It takes place at City Cemetery #3, October 29, 6-7:30 pm.

Day of the Dead San Antonio
This two-part celebration includes a Day of the Dead River Parade with more than 20 decorated floats and entertainment barges, as well as the Culinary Ofrenda, a new food festival that takes place at La Villita’s Juarez Plaza and honors San Antonio’s UNESCO City of Gastronomy designation. Featured chefs and mixologists include some of San Antonio’s favorites. The parade gets floating October 29 at 7:30 pm. Culinary Ofrenda takes place October 30 from 7-10 pm.

Dia de los Muertos: Celebrando las Misiones
The fourth annual event, hosted by the City of San Antonio World Heritage Office, is a celebration of the city’s historical missions. It begins at Mission San José’s Granary with altars on display, educational workshops, and a blessing, followed by a dance and drum procession leading the crowd to Mission Marquee Plaza, where all can contribute to the community altar. It takes place October 30 from 2-10 pm.

Market Square Dia de los Muertos
This family-friendly event includes free children’s activities, altars to honor the departed, and a lively procession. It takes place October 30 and October 31 from 10 am-6 pm each day.

Outdoor Community Altar Exhibit
Hosted by the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center, this is a community initiative to encourage residents of the West Side to build altars in their front yards. The Esperanza will also host a large altar near the Rinconcito de Esperanza to honor community members, including many victims of COVID-19. The community altar will be located at the corner of Guadalupe and South Colorado streets. The celebration runs November 1-8.

La Vida de los Muertos
Presented by the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, this free event is held on the Guadalupe campus and features performances by the Guadalupe Dance Company, Guadalupe Dance Academy, and Mariachi Guadalupe. It takes place at 6 pm on November 2.

Altares y Ofrendas Dia de los Muertos Exhibit and Celebration
This beloved event has been hosted by Centro Cultural Aztlan since 1977. As part of its “Cultural Expressions” series, the exhibit will be both in-person and virtual, illustrating the artistic, cultural, and religious facets of popular traditions in which death is seen as a natural part of life. This reality is approached with humor and a celebration of life. It takes place at Centro Cultural Aztlan November 2-8.

Muertitos Fest 2021: Artes Curativas
SAY Sí’s Muertitos returns as an in-person event this year, paying homage to native and indigenous traditions of healing and honoring departed loved ones. This year’s event will feature artisan vendors, lively entertainment, educational workshops, and an exhibition of student and visiting artists. It takes place November 2 from 3-9 pm at SAY Sí @Brazos.

Carnaval de los Muertos
URBAN-15 Group’s special performance at Elmendorf Lake Park features a magical spectacle of motion, imagery, sound, and color. Dancers will be decked out in costumes embedded with lights and have glowing banners personalized with photos. They’ll move along in an illuminated procession that evokes floating spirits passing through San Antonio. The event takes place November 2 at 7 pm at Elmendorf Lake Park.