Local celebrations of Día de los Muertos will be toned down this year, with lots of online programming, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Virtual craft workshops, altar kits, panel discussions and live-streamed entertainment allow for wider participation, giving families a chance to bond over related projects at home and offering a real learning experience about the roots and true meaning of the holiday when we remember the dead in an upbeat way.
Mix that with a few live experiences, and you’ll view Día de los Muertos in a whole new light. Here are the best ways to live it up during this Day of the Dead season:
Latino Cultural Arts Center Ofrendas at Home Kits
$30 to $150 minimum donation, order online
Order through November 1; pick up daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Hijos del Sol, 2715 West Eighth Avenue, or by appointment at info@LCAC-Denver.org.
The Latino Cultural Arts Center is taking the reins for this year’s Día de los Muertos celebrations by helping to coordinate events by different cultural groups around the city, including the Chicano Humanities and Arts Council and the Chicana/o Studies Department at MSU Denver. But these beautiful home altar-building kits are LCAC’s own project, packed with handmade elements by artists Cal Duran, Victor Escobedo, Lilian Lara and Ana Marina Sanchez, as well as artisans from Mexico and Peru. Donate the minimum amount of $30 for a children’s altar or $150 for a more comprehensive tribute directly to LCAC, and you’ll build a new tradition to share every year in your own home. Cash or check only, while supplies last.
Día de los Muertos 2020: Our Past and Present
Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Avenue, Longmont
Through November 8
Walk-ins offered on Saturdays for five people at a time, all other times by appointment only, email email@example.com at least 24 hours in advance to schedule
Firehouse observes Día de los Muertos annually with an art show, but for this year’s exhibition, curator Grace Gutierrez tasked Colorado artists Cal Duran, Javier Flores, Adrian Raya and Ramon Trujillo with creating a trio of altars honoring political Latinx heroes and activists in Colorado who stood up for Chicano rights, fought the Ku Klux Klan and lost their lives to police brutality and profiling. Come for the art; take home a history lesson.
Westwood Día de los Muertos Celebration
Rise Westwood, 3738 Morrison Road
Sunday, November 1
Follow the website for developing information as Re:Vision and Rise Westwood — a cooperative complex that’s home to a food co-op, chocolate and coffee shops, and other nonprofits and businesses — on Morrison Road plan what just might be the closest thing to an old-fashioned, in-person Día De Los Muertos festival. There are promises of community altar-building, performances, fun for kids, food, art and other surprises, with special themes each day.
Colorado Day of the Dead 2020
La Plaza Colorado,15200 East Colfax Avenue, Aurora
Selected dates through November 22
Admission: $5 to $10, timed-entry reservations at Eventbrite
Colorado Latin Fashion Week and its founder, Norberto Mojardin, might have come up with the most comprehensive and COVID-conscious Día de los Muertos celebration yet: It’s spread out over three weekends, by thirty-minute timed-entry slots from 4 to 9 p.m. on each date, centered around an enormous altar created by at-risk children and teens, with help from guest artists who take the lead while the young folks learn new art skills. “The purpose of Day of the Dead 2020 is to bring the community together in this hard time. It is now more important than ever to remember our loved ones who passed away during the COVID-19 pandemic,” say the organizers.
Virtual/Distanced Día de los Muertos Celebration, Art District on Santa Fe
Through November 6
There will be no human crawl through the art district for Día de los Muertos this year, and even the original restricted plan for 2020 has been further trimmed due to the uptick in COVID cases. But since the participatory community altar outside at Su Teatro, 721 Santa Fe Drive, had to be scratched, a limited number of free altar kits will be given away there instead, from noon to 5 p.m. on October 31, and no one will even have to get out of the car to score. Projections of deceased loved ones planned in the district at the Zone are a no-go, but the really big projections will go on downtown on the side of the Arapahoe Street side of the Daniels & Fisher Tower, courtesy of Night Lights Denver, November 1 through November 6. Find out more here.
Día de los Muertos Community Altar
Ritualcravt, 7700 West 44th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
Sunday, November 1, and Monday, November 2
Got a spiritual thing about raising the dead? Occult and spiritual goods shop Ritualcravt has you covered, with a community altar for public use. Ritualcravt invites people to bring small trinkets and offerings to remember their own ancestors — but requests that no one leave photos of their deceased relatives, as their spirits will be unattended by family after you leave the premises. Learn more Day of the Dead lore at the shop’s Facebook event page.
Virtual Day of the Dead Celebration
Longmont Museum and Cultural Center
Online event Sunday, November 1, 2:30 to 4 p.m.
Free, access streaming content on Facebook
The Longmont Museum has been throwing all sorts of hands-on Día de los Muertos-related web content up on the Internet throughout October, but museum staff will pull out all the stops — or at least as much as is possible in the flat world on your home screen — to replicate the kind of celebration they would usually present in person. Performers include Las Dahlias singing Mexican trio, Grupo Folklórico Mexico Lindo dance, mariachi, poetry by bicultural community leader Laura Soto and more.
LGBTQ Victims of Violence
Sunday, November 1, and Monday, November 2
The Center on Colfax, 1301 East Colfax Avenue
The Center on Colfax will remember the lives of LGBTQ community members and others who died in the past year with a Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) altar illuminated in the Center’s windows and a video series. Find out more about the Center here.
Fifth Annual Virtual Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos Celebration
Thornton Community Center, 2211 Eppinger Boulevard
November 1 through 3
The City of Thornton goes digital this year, but there will be no cutting corners: Thornton will offer a visually exciting digital ofrenda experience, courtesy of the Colorado virtual-reality outfit Alt Ethos, using photos of lost loved ones uploaded by residents, as well as streaming videos of mariachis and more, and an interactive art board. Also in Thornton, Anythink Wright Farms library is hosting the monumental alebrije (Oaxacan wood-animal carving), "Xólotl: Dios Perro," by Mexican artist Óscar Becerra Mora, through November 14.
All Souls Day Community Altar
Eldorado Springs Art Center, 8 Chesebro Way, El Dorado Springs
Sunday, November 1, noon to 5 p.m.
The altar in Eldorado Springs isn't strictly a Día de los Muertos celebration, which more or less coincides with
the religious version known as All Souls Day. All the same, you can ditch the city for a quick trip to the scenic foothills town and honor your dead in whatever way you please. Bring your photographs, words, mementos and flowers to lay on the altar.
Day of the Dead 5K 2020
Staging at Mount Vernon Garden, Washington Park, Downing Street side
Sunday, November 1, 8 a.m. to noon
Registration: $40 5K, $30 virtual 5K
The annual Day of the Dead 5K in Washington Park will go on as scheduled in 2020, but with a few COVID fixes. Race-day registration is out, race waves will be designed to avoid overcrowding and allow proper distancing, and there will be no party or awards ceremony afterward. That doesn’t mean you can’t dress up for the occasion and have fun running, though. Or opt for the virtual race, basically a sort of rain date that allows you to run the course on your own time and send in the results.
Día de los Muertos 5K
Cheluna Brewing Company, Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
Sunday, November 1, 8 a.m. to noon
Registration: $30 at Eventbrite
Cheluna Brewing Company’s 5K charity race is for everyone: Dogs, running strollers and kids (under twelve run for free) are all welcome to run the untimed event. Grownups will be treated to craft beers at the finish, along with swag and door prizes, as well as live music, food trucks and local vendors. Expect tightly enforced start windows, and wear a mask. If it fits the theme, even better.
Day of the Dead Family Celebration
Stanley Marketplace, 2501 Dallas Street, Aurora
Monday, November 2, 4:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Families are welcome on the Day of the Dead proper at Stanley Marketplace, where they’ll be treated to music, dancing and a magnificent altar by Denver artist Beto Mojardín honoring those who died trying to cross the border, courtesy of the Village Exchange Center. There’ll even be a pumpkin patch — not exactly your usual DoD decor, but that’s not the point. Think of this as a learning opportunity, where kids can better understand the mixture of Aztec and Catholic traditions while celebrating beloved ancestors.
Watch for updates; send information on additional Day of the Dead events to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Keep Westword Free... Since we started Westword, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Denver, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Denver with no paywalls.