Travel Tips Day of the Dead in Acapulco, Mexico. PHOTO: Acapulco CVB

Published on October 24th, 2017 | by admin

Day of the Dead in Acapulco, Mexico. PHOTO: Acapulco CVB

Where to Celebrate Day of the Dead in Latin America

Day of the Dead — or Día de los Muertos — is an important time in many parts of Latin America; an opportunity to honor the memory of deceased loved ones. Mexico is, of course, the nation that’s most closely associated with the tradition, but it’s celebrated elsewhere, too. And I’ve found a number of destinations in Mexico and Ecuador — as well as a variety of Mexico beach hotels — where you can combine an Ecuador or Mexico vacation with a fascinating chance to observe and even participate.

Day of the Dead in Acapulco, Mexico
Tourists can take part in these celebrations by heading to one of the three Acapulco cemeteries to see grave decorations and altars. Some families even have bands playing live music in honor of their dead loved ones. Wandering the city center is also a great opportunity to see kids dressed up, altars and families sharing food with friends and strangers.

Taking the tradition further: Visit any of the towns south of Acapulco to discover their unique take on Day of the Dead. The southern towns have a stronger African influence, and the traditional celebration is the “Dance of the Devils,” where men dress in devil masks with moustaches and beards made of horse mane. Music is played with instruments made of horse or donkey jawbones, harmonicas and a big can of metal known as a “Tigrera.”

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Day of the Dead in Quito, Ecuador 
Every November 2, local cemeteries in Quito are decorated with flowers, freshly painted crosses, pictures and cards to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Early in the morning, thousands of Ecuadorians remember their family members and friends who’ve passed away with prayers, vigils and songs. This popular holiday merges hundreds of years of traditions in a fusion of Catholic and indigenous rites, where faith and religion come to life in an act of profound significance.

Food plays a vital role: Colada morada, one of the typical beverages for the Day of the Dead, is a drink of indigenous origin and one of the most traditional delicacies of Quito’s cuisine. Tourists won’t want to miss Quito’s San Diego cemetery, an architectural jewel designed by several of Ecuador’s acclaimed architects: Pietro Capurro, Luis Mideros y Francisco Durini. The cemetery ties different art movements such as neoclassic, neogothic and eclectic architecture. The complex also holds the San Diego convent and a museum with five different galleries.

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Hotels That Showcase Day of the Dead
In some destinations, hotels offer guests access and insight about Day of the Dead. Here are a few.

The St. Regis Mexico City: This luxurious Mexico City hotel will serve guests three different versions of the traditional pan de muerto (bread of the dead): Classic pan de muerto, which is what families bring to the cemetery; pan de muerto ice cream; and pan de muerto “bones.” In addition, the hotel will offer cultural tours, through the property’s own Cultural Curator, to places like San Andrés Mixquic, a small community where the Day of the Dead tradition is especially active; and Xochimilco, the legendary pre-Hispanic canals where visitors can cruise aboard a colorful trajinera boat, observe Day of the Dead altars and listen to Mariachi music.

Bahia Principe Riviera Maya Resort: Restaurants and buffets at this Mexico beach hotel will be decorated with traditional Day of the Dead ornaments and will serve food and drinks that celebrate Mexican culture. Hacienda Doña Isabel, the brand’s on-property shopping village that also includes nightly entertainment options like live music, shows and karaoke nights, will host an altar display competition. Each store will have the chance to decorate their storefront altars and showcase their creations to Bahia Principe guests. On November 2, the complex will host a Fiesta Mexicana in the common areas of the complex; guests of all ages will be able to enjoy Latin music, Day of the Dead arts and crafts and a video-mapping and light show across the facades of the multiple properties.

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Seadust Cancun Family Resort: Due to this Mexico resort hotel’s popularity with children, Seadust will recreate a haunted house for families. To also honor the Day of the Dead’s cultural significance in the region, the hotel will also recreate a traditional altar in the lobby, complete with food, flowers and vibrant colors.

Day of the Dead festivities at Live Aqua Resort Cancun.

Day of the Dead festivities at Live Aqua Resort Cancun.

La Colección Resorts by Fiesta Americana: This Mexico hotel chain includes several different properties that will celebrate Day of the Dead. Live Aqua Beach Resort Cancun will host its annual Día de los Muertos dinner celebration and shrine competition, and guests are invited to judge and enjoy the spectacular altars, built and decorated by the hotels employees. Live Aqua Boutique Resort Playa del Carmen, meanwhile, will transform its coffee deli into an elaborately decorated Day of the Dead sanctuary, and teach guests how to make and decorate sugar-coated skull candies. And Grand Fiesta Americana Coral Beach Cancun will unveil a grand Day of the Dead altar at their restaurant Viña del Mar.

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