Seventeen Ways to Celebrate Día de los Muertos

Seventeen Ways to Celebrate Día de los Muertos
Stanley Marketplace

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 can promote wider participation, give families a chance to bond over related projects at home and offer 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:

Take home an artist-created ofrenda kit from the Latino Cultural Arts Center.EXPAND
Take home an artist-created ofrenda kit from the Latino Cultural Arts Center.
Latino Cultural Arts Center

Marijuana Deals Near You

Latino Cultural Arts Center Ofrendas at Home Kits
$30 to $150 minimum donation, order online
Pick up daily from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. through October 30 at Hijos del Sol, 2715 West Eighth Avenue, or by appointment at info@LCAC-Denver.org.

The Latin 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 via Colorado Gives, and you’ll build a new tradition to pull out every year in your own home. Kit availability is limited, so don’t dally.

Artist Cal Duran, "Anti-Klan Protests of Jose Hilario Cortez."
Artist Cal Duran, "Anti-Klan Protests of Jose Hilario Cortez."
Cal Duran, Firehouse Art Center

Día de los Muertos 2020: Our Past and Present
Firehouse Art Center, 667 Fourth Avenue, Longmont
Through November 9
Walk-ins offered on Saturdays for five people at a time, all other times by appointment only, email info@firehouseart.org 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.

Tamayo Denver provides the eats and treats to dine at home and craft a skull sculpture.EXPAND
Tamayo Denver provides the eats and treats to dine at home and craft a skull sculpture.
Tamayo Denver

Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Sip ’N’ Paint To Go
Tamayo Denver, 1400 Larimer Street
$70 fee includes food and a craft kit for one person; drink and guacamole add-ons are available
Reserve in advance, kit pick-up at Tamayo from 3 to 6 p.m. October 29

Want to paint the town for Día de los Muertos, but not ready to do it in person? You’re not alone. Tamayo has just what you need: Fancy tacos, chips and salsa, desserts and optional drinks for everyone, as well as everything you’ll need to paint a gorgeous skull, all wrapped up in a big package to pick up and unpack at home. There’s a contest, too (entry details are included with skull kits), and you can also order add-ons, including guacamole, margaritas, sangria pitchers and more.

Altas is ready for Día de los Muertos in Broomfield.
Altas is ready for Día de los Muertos in Broomfield.
Shon Cobbs

Día de los Muertos featuring Altas
Broomfield Auditorium, 3 Community Park Road, Broomfield
Wednesday, October 28, 7:30 p.m.
Tickets: $20 each, must be bought in blocks of two or five seats, or watch the free live stream on Facebook

You’d never know it listening to their music, but the Denver band Altas, whose members all hail from different areas of Mexico, is known to perform costumed in full Día de los Muertos gear. So here’s something different if you like spacey instrumentals: a socially distanced live concert, with a free live-streaming option if you feel safer at home. Better yet: The live stream repeats on November 1 for a more timely at-home celebration.

Día de los Muertos Menu and Celebration
Kachina Cantina, Dairy Block, 1890 Wazee Street
Thursday, Friday and Saturday, October 29, 30 and 31, 3 to 10 p.m. daily
A la carte prices for special dishes; view the full menu and book a dinner reservation online in advance

You’re okay with dining in, if it’s safely socially distanced and especially delicious? Kachina Cantina at the Dairy Block will lend a Latinx mood to the complex with a special Día de los Muertos menu — including green Mexican corn chowder, chicken chiles rellenos and a resplendent duck-breast mole dinner — for the last three days of October. Book a reservation ASAP if you want a seat at that table.

Celebrate Día de los Muertos with the Westwood community.
Celebrate Día de los Muertos with the Westwood community.
Rise Westwood

Westwood Día de los Muertos Celebration
Rise Westwood, 3738 Morrison Road
Friday, October 30; Saturday, October 31; 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, October 30 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.

Make masks with the family — or the over-21 crowd — at ARTAOS Gallery.
Make masks with the family — or the over-21 crowd — at ARTAOS Gallery.

Mask-Making Workshop
ARTAOS Gallery, 2822 East 17th Avenue
Family-Friendly: Saturday, October 31, 1 to 3 p.m.
21 and Over: Saturday, October 31, 5 to 7 p.m.
Admission: $20 to $35 per person; reserve seats online

Día de los Muertos and Halloween cross paths at ARTAOS Gallery during three in-person, socially distanced mask-making dates in October, with separate sessions scheduled for families and 21+ adults (includes sipping). Whatever age you are, be prepared to doll up your face with a pretty skull mask in the company of others —something you might have missed in the past six or more months. But hurry: Seating is limited. And remember to wear a mask while you make a mask.

It's the little things that count: Make-and-take a mini-ofrenda at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
It's the little things that count: Make-and-take a mini-ofrenda at the Denver Botanic Gardens.
Denver Botanic Gardens

Family Make-and-Take: Día de los Muertos Miniature Ofrendas
Denver Botanic Gardens, 1007 York Street
Saturday, October 31; by timed entry between 9:15 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
$12 to $15 per project fee, reserve a time slot online in advance

In addition to hosting online activities and programs, including a virtual mercado for Day of the Dead merchandise, the Denver Botanic Gardens is hosting opportunities for families to collaborate on tiny ofrendas (offerings left at an altar) in person by timed entry. These slots will go fast; don’t wait to sign up. Find additional online Day of the Dead programming by the Denver Botanic Gardens website.

Virtual/Distanced Día de los Muertos Celebration, Art District on Santa Fe
October 31 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, on November 1 and 6. Find out more here.

Learn from the elders about how Día de los Muertos has been celebrated in Colorado for decades.
Learn from the elders about how Día de los Muertos has been celebrated in Colorado for decades.
Latino Cultural and Arts Center

Panel on the "Local History of Día de los Muertos"
Virtual program hosted by the Latino Cultural Arts Center and CHAC Gallery
Saturday, October 31, 6 p.m.
Free, register for Zoom meeting online in advance

This LCAC/CHAC collaboration brings three elders from Denver’s Chicano community together to recall how Día de Los Muertos has been celebrated in Denver over the decades. Retired radio broadcaster Flo Hernandez-Ramos, indigenous historian David Atekpatzin Young, and  artists Stevon Lucero and Alfredo Reyes promise lively discussion with a local hook, online for free.

Día de los Muertos Community Altar
Ritualcravt, 7700 West 44th Avenue, Wheat Ridge
Saturday, October 31; Sunday, November 1; and Monday, November 2

Got a spiritual thing about raising the dead? Occult and spiritual goods shop Ritualcravt has got 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.

Longmont's Day of the Dead Family Fiesta is fun for everyone, even virtually!EXPAND
Longmont's Day of the Dead Family Fiesta is fun for everyone, even virtually!
Longmont Museum

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.

Get interactive for Day of the Dead fun with the Thornton Community Center.
Get interactive for Day of the Dead fun with the Thornton Community Center.
Thornton Community Center

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.

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.

Seventeen Ways to Celebrate Día de los MuertosEXPAND
Stanley Marketplace

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 altars for leaving ofrendas to the dead. 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 editorial@westword.com.

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