Dia de los Muertos: From Pirates to pinatas, six ways to celebrate

El Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a holiday that honors the dead through altars, offerings, sculptures and dances. For the Aztec, who had been celebrating this tradition for more than 3,000 years before encountering travelers from Spain, death was not the end but the continuation of life. Day of the Dead is still celebrated today, and although it's officially marked on November 1 and 2, the related events start several days earlier in Denver.

Here are seven ways to celebrate Día de los Muertos around town -- and if you know of more, post the information in the comments section below.

See also: - The Pirate spirit lives on during Dia de los Muertos - Best Day of the Dead in a Cemetery - Dia de los Muertos - Back to Skulls - Arts and crafts meet Day of the Dead.

6. Denver Art Society Presents: Day of the Dead

More than thirty local artists are contributing altars to the Denver Art Society's celebration of the dead; this is the DAS's first juried exhibition, judged by Hector Munoz. The fun starts at 11 a.m. today, November 1, but the official opening reception will start at 7 p.m. Friday, November 2, with the Aztec Dancers, food, face painting, pinatas and live music. Guests are encouraged to wear skeleton attire. Tickets are $20 in advance and $25 at the door; all proceeds will go toward children's art classes. For tickets and more information, visit the Denver Art Society website.

5. Pirate: Contemporary Art's 29th Annual Día de los Muertos

Pirate: Contemporary Art has been honoring this holiday since 1983. This year's exhibit, which runs through November 11, will feature work juried by Maruca Salazar, recently named head of the Museo de las Americas, including "Our Lady of Temporality," by Brandon Maldonado. And every Saturday, Pirate will offering workshops, including sand-painting with Debra Sanders and Calavera mask-making. The official reception will be from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 2, and will include the local Aztec Dancers, a candlelight procession and pinatas. Admission to all events is free; for more information, visit the Pirate website.

4. Studio 12 Gallery's Día de los Muertos Second Reception

The last Studio 12 Día de los Muertos exhibit won a Best of Denver award as Best Curated Exhibition. This year's exhibit, which opened October 5, will have a second reception from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Friday, November 2. The show includes art by Amber Lovelace, Brandon Maldonado, Fonda McDonough, George Rivera, Rai Briata, Rob Yancey and curator Carlos Fresquez, as well as altars by Laurie Zuckerman and Maruca Salazar; limited edition signed prints of Brandon Maldonado's "Gringo Souvenir" will be available for purchase during the show's run. Admission to all events is free. For more information, visit the Studio 12 website.

3. Museo de las Americas

Museo de Las Americas will host a Day of the Dead celebration on Friday, November 2, including a sugar skull-making workshop for charity from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. For more information, visit the museum website.

2. Center for Visual Art

Metro State's Center for Visual Art will host a Día de los Muertos celebration from 5 to 10 p.m. on Friday, November 2, including a candlelight procession lead by Huiltzliopotchli, Denver's oldest Aztec dance group. This event is also the closing ceremony for the Return of the Corn Mothers exhibition, which honors some of Colorado's wise Corn Mothers, including like Mexican folklorist Rita Wallace, Jewish storyteller Cherie Swartz, African-American storyteller Lois Burrell and painter Evelyn Valdez. Judy Newland from the Arizona State University Museum of Anthropology will be speaking about the significance of the holiday, and healers from different traditions will host a group blessing. Admission is free. For more information, visit the CVA website.

1. Longmont Museum's Ofrenda de los Muertos

The Longmont Museum has been marking Day of the Dead for twelve years. This year's exhibition, La Ofrenda de los Muertos: Honoring Days of the Dead, runs until Sunday, November 4 and features art work by Colorado artists Brandon Maldonado, Stephanie Hilvitz, Do Palma and Betsy Cannon, as well as Arizona artists; a part of the gallery has been transformed to resemble a Mexican market. For more information, visit the Longmont Museum website.

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Nathalia Vélez
Contact: Nathalia Vélez