Published on November 8th, 2017 | by Mark Chesnut
Dia de los Muertos: Day of the Dead is a Vibrant Event in Mazatlan, Mexico
Día de los Muertos — Day of the Dead — is an important cultural tradition in Latin America, and especially in Mexico. It’s a time to remember and honor deceased loved ones, with visits to the cemetery and lots of quality family time. It also happens to be a fascinating time for anyone taking a Mexico vacation, as the visuals are especially striking. I found this to be especially true during my most recent visit to Mazatlan.
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This popular Mexico beach resort city, located on the Pacific coast, is known for its sun, sand and shrimp (it’s a major fishing port). But it’s also home to a beautiful historic downtown, and it’s rewarding place to visit for culture and events — including one of Mexico’s best Carnaval celebrations, a richly programmed cultural festival and, of course the annual Day of the Dead, which takes place on November 1 here.
During my recent visit, I was treated to Día de los Muertos on multiple days in and several different ways. Even before the official celebration, I took a day trip to El Quelite with a tour company called Pronatours, where we visited a cemetery that was being decked out with colorful plastic flowers and decorations, followed by a stop at a bakery to sample pan de muerto (a tasty bread baked specifically for Day of the Dead) and lunch at El Mesón de los Laureanos, a fabulous restaurant with a memorial altar stood.
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At the grand opening of a new spa at the upscale Marina El Cid hotel, staff members arrived with their faces painted in traditional skeleton form, with costumes representing everything both indigenous and post-colonial cultures — and some broke out in song, as you can see in the video.
On the actual day of Día de los Muertos, hundreds of people head to downtown Mazatlan. For a truly cultural experience, try to get tickets to the evening’s performance at the Teatro Angela Peralta, a gorgeously restored 19th-century theater, which this year hosted a music-and-dance tribute to Pedro Infante, a legendary Mexican actor and singer who died 100 years ago.
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Following the performance, it was time for the Callejoneada, a traditional promenade — something like a participatory parade, in which people (both in costume and out) stroll down the historic streets to sounds of banda and other music. I joined some fellow journalists in the crowd and passed by dozens of creatively costumed people (including many dressed as a catrina, a female skeleton dressed in elegant 19th-century garb), as well as high-flying acrobats on one corner. It was a wonderful evening.
Even a few days after, my Day of the Dead experience wasn’t full over. The following weekend, I visited PP Club, one of Mazatlan’s five LGBT bars, and was treated to a drag show in which each of the performers were dressed up with full Día de los Muertos style. It was an especially festive way to wrap up this unforgettable celebration. My recommendation: If you’re thinking of going to Mazatlan, be sure to arrive at least a day or two early, and stay a few days after. You won’t want to miss out on the many different ways to experience the event.