Dia de Los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a two-day holiday celebration where Mexicans remember their deceased relatives with festivities and parties. It’s celebrated on the Catholic holidays of All Saints Day and All Souls Day on November 1st and 2nd. The first day honors dead children (Dia de los Innocentes or Angelitos – innocents or little angels) and the second day (Dia de los Muertos or Difuntos – dead) honors adults according to Wikipedia. Instead of being a sad affair this holiday is very festive and lively. To encourage the souls to visit the living and to hear their prayers and remembrances, families build brightly-decorated altars of dressed-up skeletons, orange marigold flowers and pastel-hued candy skulls (picture above) along with food and drink. The food and drink will be taken to cemeteries (where the graves have been cleaned) and offered to the dead.
Mexico City has many areas where visitors can enjoy this celebration. From mid-October to the first week in November shops and markets will be full of Day of the Dead paraphernalia and special baked goods. Everyone will be out and about getting ready for the festivities and the streets will be shut down for large parades. In the city this holiday is celebrated as more of a folk tradition rather than religious one.
Zocalo Square: Each year the government hosts a large Day of the Dead celebration at this famous square. It will be crowded so be prepared for millions of people.
Xochimilco: The area of canals south of the city hosts all-night festivities at the local cemetery.
Cemeteries holding Day of the Dead vigils:
Panteon Civil de Dolores
Bosque de Chapultepec
Museums with Dead of the Dead special altars and activities:
Museo Dolores Olmedo
Museo de la Ciudad de Mexico
Just south of Mexico City in the suburb of Mixquic the celebrations take on a more religious tone. On the first day a white coffin is carried from house to house where people can say a prayer in front of it before a candle-lit procession follows the coffin to a local cemetery where it is given a mock-burial. On the second day everyone walks in a procession to the cemetery carrying candles and flowers when the church bells ring at 4 pm.
More Mexico City info:
How to get around Mexico City on a budget click here
How to get to and from Benito Juarez International Airport click here