Dia de los Muertos festivities begin this weekend

by Lea ThompsonOctober 24, 2018
In 2017, calavera puppets are used in the Dia de los Muertos procession at La Villita. BEN OLIVO | SAN ANTONIO HERON

Indigenous roots and Catholic traditions make Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, a unique Mexican cultural event that celebrates family, friends and ancestors who have died. Families often honor those loved ones by visiting their graves, sharing pan de muerto, a sweet bread, and creating altars—decorated with photos, mezcal, candles, flowers and items that defined them —in their memory.

We've assembled Day of the Dead gatherings happening in the downtown area. It all starts this weekend at Maverick Plaza.

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The community altar at La Villita last year. BEN OLIVO | SAN ANTONIO HERON

La Villita

10 a.m.-11 p.m. Saturday (Oct. 27), noon-9 p.m. Sunday (Oct. 28), 418 Villita St. Visit muertosfest.com or the Facebook event page for more info.

La Villita is home to the city's largest open-air altar exhibit with more than 30 displays. Vendors will also offer local apparel, art and tasty treats like pan de muerto and hot chocolate.

From 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, Maverick Plaza will host family-friendly craft workshops that include sugar skull decorating, flower-making and mask-making sessions on the hour. Catch a ballet folklorico performance, 1-2 p.m., or check out the live conjunto, punk and cumbia- inspired-music from local bands such as Bidi Bidi Banda, Femina-X and Pinata Protest. The festivities continue Sunday with the altar exhibit and contest, as well as a “living” community altar that invites attendees to contribute offerings to loved ones.

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Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center

Exhibit opens Sunday (Oct. 28) and runs through Nov. 22 at the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center, 723 S. Brazos St. Hours: 9 a.m.-5 p.m. View the Facebook event page.

Bring a photo of a late loved one to add to the community altar at Galería Guadalupe. Also, check out the center’s altar exhibit, which includes one-of-a-kind creations by local artists, residents, students at Brackenridge Elementary and local high schools, and the SA Eye Bank.

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Rinconcito de Esperanza

3-11:30 p.m. Nov. 1, 816 S. Colorado St. View the Facebook event page.

Bring instruments and prepare your best calavera face for Día de los Muertos Celebration con Esperanza, an evening of live music and spoken word performances, face painting for children and remembrances of the dead. Attendees are invited to join the community procession through the West Side starting at 5:30 p.m. The event will host local art vendors like Cooperativa MujerArtes, and will offer traditional foods like tamales and pan de muerto for sale. There will be several opportunities for attendees to share original poems or literary ofrendas with the public before the evening ends with music by Alyson Alonzo, Azul Barrientos, Roger Arocha y Su Conjunto, and others.

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A procession makes its way through the Pearl at last year's Dia de los Muertos event. COURTESY MATT BUIKEMA | PEARL

The Pearl

4-9 p.m. Nov. 1; 5-9 p.m. Nov. 2, 303 Pearl Parkway. View the Facebook event page.

The Pearl will transform into a space of altars and colorful crafts, music and other performances. On Thursday, families are invited to join Dr. Ellen Riojas Clark for the event kickoff at 4:45 p.m before a live music show by Tallercito de Son begins at 5 p.m. First Lady Erica Prosper Nirenberg will host a storytime session for children 6-6:15 p.m. before a festival procession—led by children representing the Southwest School of Art and followed by calaveras and cabezudos from the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center—until 7 p.m. Friday evening is filled with live music performances by Conjunto Heritage Taller, San Antonio Mariachi Academy and Azul Barrientos.

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Historic Market Square

5-10 p.m. Nov. 2, 514 W. Commerce St. View the Facebook event page.

El Mercado will host a special viewing of Pixar’s "Coco" and a folklorico performance by Teresa Champion, with food and art from local vendors available on-site. The evening continues with face painting sessions and a fun musical performance by students at the Henry Ford Academy: Alameda School for Art + Design. Young attendees will have an opportunity to visit with staffers from the San Antonio Public Library’s Latino Collection, and learn how to create mini sugar skulls or nichos to add to the market’s public altar display.

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SAY Sí

6-10:30 p.m. Friday; noon-4 p.m. Saturday, 1518 S Alamo St. View the Facebook event page.

Expect crowds and fun activities during Muertitos Fest 2018: Sin Fronteras, a First Friday event filled with hands-on art workshops and music and dance performances by Danza Kalpulli and Conjunto Mismo Sol. Families and individuals are invited to enter the best-dressed costume contest, or share their favorite snacks at the food booths. Find prints and artisan products at the festival’s mercado, and be sure to catch the procession by Las Monas Performance Group at 8:15 p.m. On Saturday, bring the family for face-painting and special performances at the SAY Sí Black Box Theatre featuring groups such as the Guadalupe Mariachi Academy and The ALAS Youth Theatre Company.

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