Every year, on November 1st and 2nd, Mexico comes alive with vibrant colors, intricate altars, delicious foods, and a poignant recognition of those who have passed. This is Mexico’s Day of the Dead, a unique and fascinating celebration that honors and remembers departed loved ones.
While this cherished tradition is observed throughout Mexico, there’s something truly special about experiencing the Day of the Dead in Mazatlán.
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A Cultural Celebration Like No Other
The Day of the Dead, or “Día de los Muertos” in Spanish, is a cherished Mexican tradition celebrated every November. Dating back over 3,000 years, it blends ancient indigenous beliefs with Catholicism that was introduced in the 16th century, creating a colorful, one-of-a-kind holiday.
Across Mexico, the Day of the Dead is marked with grave cleaning, colorful decorations, and parades. It’s a time to remember and celebrate loved ones who have passed away, embracing the cycle of life and death.
Families honor their relatives by creating ofrendas, altars adorned with photographs, favorite foods, marigold flowers, and symbolic items like sugar skulls. Calaveras, the popular playful skulls, are a symbol of the holiday. To those outside of Mexico, Day of the Dead is often a misunderstood holiday confused with its proximity to Halloween, but its popularity has grown due to its pop culture presence in films like “Coco” and the James Bond movie “Spectre.”
Mazatlán’s Unique Day of the Dead Celebrations
Plaza Machado: The Heart of the Celebration
Plaza Machado, nestled in the heart of Mazatlán’s Historic District, serves as the center of Day of the Dead festivities. Every year, the plaza transforms into a fascinating spectacle, filled with decorations that align with the chosen theme of the year. For 2023, the theme is “Leyendas del Arte” or “Art Legends,” paying homage to influential artists from Mazatlán, such as Antonio López Sáenz.
On November 1st, the Ministry of Culture, Tourism, and Art pays tribute to local artists in a grand fashion. Guided tours take visitors through the Municipal Arts Center and the Ángela Peralta Theater, both decorated with artistic installations, photo galleries, dance performances, literature readings, and more – all showcasing the works of Mazatlán’s talented artists.
Altars of Remembrance
Throughout Mazatlán, you’ll discover traditionally decorated altars honoring the departed. These altars can be found in various locations, including the Museum of Arts, La Casa de Caracol Bookstore, Mazatlan Film & Theatre, CICMA (Mazatlán Innovation Cultural Center), Casa de Leyendas, La Molcajeteria Restaurant, and Pedro and Lola Restaurant. Visiting these altars is a profound experience that allows you to connect with the culture and traditions of Mazatlán.
The Grand Parade: Callejoneada
The highlight of the Day of the Dead celebrations in Mazatlán is the spectacular Callejoneada, a vibrant parade that takes place on November 1st. Imagine a procession of colorful floats, mesmerizing dancers, dazzling fireworks, traditional music, and Mexican symbolism that fills the streets of the Historic District. It’s a sight you surely will never forget.
Participation and Welcoming Spirit
Mazatlán’s locals warmly welcome tourists to share in the celebration. You’ll find that the people of Mazatlán are eager to explain the significance behind their carefully crafted altars, often toasting in honor of their ancestors with travelers. It’s a unique opportunity to engage with the local culture and learn about the deep-rooted traditions of the Day of the Dead.
Experiencing Mazatlán’s Day of the Dead
Savor the Flavors of the Season
Indulge in the seasonal delights of Pan de Muerto, a sweet bread shaped like a circle with a small skull on top. Pair it with a delicious cup of chocolate milk for the ultimate taste of tradition. Visit local cafeterias like Caferium, Via Condotti, Panamá, La Oliva, or Totem to enjoy these treats.
Explore the Historic Center Early
The weeks leading up to the Day of the Dead are the perfect time to explore the Historic Center of Mazatlán. Plaza Machado itself is a sight to behold, adorned with Day of the Dead decorations that create a magical atmosphere.
Choose the Perfect Accommodation
Selecting the right place to stay can enhance your Day of the Dead experience. Consider options like Hotel Freeman, Hotel La Siesta, Casa Lucila, or Casa Lulú to immerse yourself in the local culture and history.
Savor Local Cuisine
Don’t miss the opportunity to savor Mazatlán’s culinary scene. Restaurants like Pedro y Lola, Hector’s Bistro, Presidio, and Casa 46 offer a taste of authentic Mexican cuisine that will delight your taste buds.
Celebrate Día de los Muertos in Mazatlán
Mazatlán’s Day of the Dead celebrations are a unique blend of tradition, art, culture, and warm hospitality. It’s a time when the veil between the living and the deceased becomes thin, and the memories of loved ones come alive through colorful altars, heartfelt tributes, and joyous celebrations. So, mark your calendar for November 1st and 2nd, and immerse yourself in this captivating Mexican tradition in the enchanting city of Mazatlán. It’s an experience you’ll cherish forever.
This article originally appeared on Wander With Alex. Featured Photo Credit: Mazatlán’s Municipal Institute of Culture, Tourism and Art
Nic DeAngio is a freelance writer from Richmond, VA. He has traveled throughout the United States and Europe and always has his next trip in mind – and an ever-expanding bucket list of destinations to visit. Nic loves trying local cuisine, photographing exotic locations, and wandering foreign cities to find hole-in-the-wall gems others may overlook.