Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a traditional Mexican holiday when family and friends gather to honor and celebrate loved ones who have passed. This year, Santa Monica observes the tradition with seven events at six venues throughout the city between October 22 and November 5, 2016. The range of events offers people of all ages a variety of ways to engage in, and become familiar with, the many aspects of this important and rich tradition.
As part of the festivities, the City of Santa Monica will present its fifth annual Día de los Muertos event at Woodlawn Cemetery on Sunday, October 30, from 12-4pm. The family-friendly event focuses on the activities that are part of this traditional celebration of life and death. The event opens with a procession and ceremonial blessing at by the Aztec dance group Ketzaliztli. The main stage features the colorful and dynamic Mexican folk dances of Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles, accompanied by Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar, and the son jarocho music of Veracruz by the noted East LA band Cambalache. Independent radio journalist and DJ Betto Arcos will emcee and share his own Day of the Dead stories and personal memories.
Additional performances include myths, legends, music and poetry by performer and educator Martin Espino, a dance demonstration and workshop with Santa Monica-based Cabeza de Vaca Cultural Dance School and strolling musicians Mariachi Los Dorados de Villa. Attendees can honor a loved one that has passed by making an offering of flowers and contributing stories of loved ones to a communal memory wall. Other activities include a photo booth with La Catrina and El Catrine, calavera face painting and a documentary screening on how families in Mexico prepare for this holiday. Fresh tamales, tacos, churros and aquas frescas will be available for purchase from Los Tamaleros Truck, Salina’s Churro Truck and Tacos Super Gallito Truck.
Woodlawn Cemetery, Mausoleum & Mortuary is situated on 26 acres, with views of the ocean and the Santa Monica Mountains. The cemetery has been serving the community for over 100 years and is owned and operated by the City of Santa Monica – one of the few municipally-owned cemeteries in California. Purchased in 1897, the cemetery is considered one of the city’s most important historical resources.
Other Día de los Muertos events throughout the City include sugar skull decorating at Fairview Branch Library; a student art exhibit at Santa Monica High School Roberts Gallery; the Main Library’s Harvest Festival and a documentary screening/discussion; a family-friendly event at Virginia Avenue Park; and Edison Language Academy’s annual festival including altars, food, music, crafts and tours.
The Woodlawn Cemetery event is produced by the City of Santa Monica Community and Cultural Services Department, Woodlawn Cemetery, Mausoleum & Mortuary, Santa Monica Public Library, and artist Paulina Sahagun.
For information on all events, dates and locations, visit smgov.net/dia.