photo: Kevin Baird via Flickr

Día de los Muertos is a day of celebration in the Mexican culture when deceased loved ones are honored. Ofrendas (altars) filled with marigolds, sugar skulls, food and other treats are prepared, faces are painted as a form of self-expression and to pay homage to the dead, there’s joyous music and dancing, dining on authentic food and so much more. These celebrations typically take place between Oct. 31st-Nov. 2nd, but here in San Diego we celebrate Día de los Muertos for several weeks with festivals and gatherings where people unite to fondly remember those who have passed away. Read on for our favorite kid-friendly ways to celebrate this holiday all over town.

Dia de los Muertos in Old Town San Diego
This community-wide commemoration, which honors ancestors and other deceased loved ones with special menus, music, dancing and crafts, includes Day of the Dead sugar skull decorating, mask and paper flower making, a giant skeleton puppet and stilt walker, face painting and much more. Immerse yourself in the culture with live music, dancing, tamale carts, mariachis, authentic food, piñatas, storytelling, complimentary Mexican hot chocolate––the list goes on and on! Don’t miss this fantastic celebration. Oct. 28 – Nov. 2 Event details.

photo: Artelexia

Day of the Dead Festival North Park 
Head to this first ever Day of the Dead Festival North Park celebration! Hosted by Artelexia, everyone in the community is invited to come celebrate and learn about this vibrant Mexican holiday. Dia de los Muertos is a time to honor and remember those who have passed. The unity of life and death is celebrated when friends and families come together to offer hospitality to the spirits of loved ones. To add to this Magical Celebration, you’ll find sugar skull decorating, face painting, a community altar, artisan vendors, tequila & mezcal tasting, a biergarten and food trucks. Oct. 22 Event details.

Encinitas Dia de Los Muertos
This annual family-friendly “Day of the Dead” festival will include continuous performances by some of the best Latin talent in San Diego. Kids will love the art-making workshops! There are also artist demos, a student art exhibit, a Catrina Contest for the best skull make-up, Por Siempre Car Club, food trucks, opportunity drawings, vendors and giveaways. Another event highlight: a community Ofrenda (remembrance altar) will feature a replica of the Surfing Madonna by artist Mark Patterson. Oct. 28 Event details.

Dia de los Muertos Festival at California Center for the Arts Escondido
Celebrate with the community at California Center for the Arts Escondido’s annual Día de los Muertos Festival. Guests are invited to participate by making altars in honor of their loved ones in a special area created by artist Eloy Tarcisio. Enjoy music, art, ballet folklórico, face painting, arts and crafts and more. There will also be handmade goods and food for purchase. Don’t miss the live performance in the Concert Hall by Selena Tribute Band Como la Flor. Nov. 1 Event details.

Day of the Dead Workshops & Celebrations – Sherman Heights
This community-wide event takes place over the course of a few weeks with workshops on how to do face painting for day of the dead makeup and how to make floral headpieces and altar boxes. Be sure to check out the website to register for workshops and reserve your spot. The main festivities kick off on Oct. 28, from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. for the Muertos Festival which includes great food, live entertainment and alter tours. All of these events lead up the the actual celebration where porches are transformed into elaborate ofrendas for deceased loved ones. These displays are open to the public, so everyone can check them out. Oct. 6 – Nov. 3 Event details.

photo: Leah R. Singer

Dia de los Muertos at Old Mission San Luis Rey
This special event is full of diverse cultural traditions. Experience The Mission like never before. There will be live entertainment, arts and crafts, altar displays, a chalk cemetery, dancers, contests and a classic car show. You’ll enjoy perusing the diverse vendors and eating delicious traditional food. Note: Parking at The Mission costs $5/car, exact change appreciated. Oct. 29 Event details

Sugar Skull Decorating at Mint Studio
Join this fun afternoon of crafting with Princess Elena. Parents are free! Enjoy coffee while the kids make sugar skulls and celebrate a fun tradition. Oct. 27 Event details.

Where do you celebrate Dia de los Muertos with your family? Tell us in the comments.


––Beth Shea