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 November 2, the related events start several days earlier in Denver.
Here are eight ways to celebrate Día de los Muertos around town.
8. 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 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. And at noon Tuesday, October 23 and again October 30, Jill Orr, curator of education, will be guiding tours of the exhibition. On Saturday, October 27, there will also be a family celebration from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., with live entertainment, food, and activities including paper flower-making, community altars and face painting. Attendees are encouraged to wear calaca -- or skeleton -- apparel. Admission to both the exhibit and the family celebration is free; for more information, visit the Longmont Museum website.
7. Día de los Muertos returns to Denver Botanic Gardens
Denver Botanic Gardens will be celebrating Día de los Muertos from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Saturday, October 27 with a party featuring live entertainment, Mexican bingo, and such crafts as making paper flowers, decorating sugar skulls and coloring skeleton ornaments. There will also be complimentary face painting at 4 p.m., prior to a 5 p.m. procession. The food vendors on site will be Charlie's Ice Crème Social, El Pelicano and Mi Pueblo Market, Spicy Mexican Catering Food, Azucar Bakery and the Quiero Arepas Food Truck. Tickets are $12 for non-member adults; $10 for member adults, students and seniors; $8 for non-member children and $6 for member children. For more information, visit the Denver Botanic Gardens website.
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6. 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 opens October 26 and 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. Every Saturday starting October 27, Pirate will offering workshops, including artist trading cards with Jerry Simpson, 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.
5. 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 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. During the show's run, Mandy Medrano will be hosting a sugar skull sculpting workshop and Linda Powers will be offering face painting; limited edition signed prints of Brandon Maldonado's "Gringo Souvenir" will be available for purchase. Admission to all events is free. For more information, visit the Studio 12 website. Continue reading for more events! 4. 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 opening reception will start at 7 p.m. Friday, November 1, and will feature 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.
3. El Diablo Restaurant 4th Annual Día De Los Muertos Celebration
While the other celebrations are more about the artistic aspect of the holiday, El Diablo's is more about the party, which starts at 8 p.m. Tuesday, October 30. Highlights include a tattoo artist Skull Show, live music by DJ Gonzo, and face- painting by Indie Six Salon. A silent auction will run until 10 p.m.; winners will be announced at 10:30 p.m. All proceeds from the auction will benefit Mi Casa Resource Center. At 11 p.m., El Diablo's happy hour will kick in with drink and food specials, including $1 tacos. There is no cover price, but reservations are encouraged for those who plan on dining. Visit El Diablo's website or call 303-954-0324. Continue reading for more events! 2. Museo de las Americas
Museo de Las Americas will host a Day of the Dead celebration on Saturday, 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.
1. 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 Saturday, 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.
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