Though the holiday known as Day of the Dead -- Día de los Muertos -- sounds mournful, its festivities are rooted deep in a traditional celebration of life. After tonight, Halloween will be finished for the year and the merrymaking turns honoring the souls who have passed, with an array of commemorative altar displays, parades, art, food, dancing and music. Below are ten of the best Day of the Dead happenings around town, many of them free and family-friendly. For a full list of events happening across the city this weekend, be sure to check out our online calendar for more ideas -- and share anything we may have missed in the comments section below.
Día de los Muertos art show at Good Omen Tattoo, November 1, free The tattoo shop's first-ever art show is a Day of the Dead themed-exhibition. Good Omen owner and artist Mandy Inkbear will be showing pieces, alongside the work of local artists Kyle Banister and tattooer Dave Stem. Food and face-painting will be a part of the opening festivities tonight, and kids are welcome.
Día de los Muertos at Denver Botanic Gardens, November 1, $6-$12 This families-welcome Day of the Dead event has it all -- paper flower-making, a community altar exhibition, complimentary photo booth, face-painting and a sugar skull workshop put on by the Chicano Humanities and Arts Center's Rita Wallace. Stick around for a candlelight procession led by Danza Guadalupana Matachina Tlaxcaltecas at sunset and a costume contest, with both kid and adult categories.
El Día de los Muertos at Chicano Humanities & Arts Council, November 1-2, free With the closing weekend of its month-long Día de los Muertos show, CHAC will take this exhibition out in style. Local artists and children from schools in the surrounding area will be showing and selling work, and the Aztec Dancers will perform a blessing to close the altars. Saturday, the gallery will host a sugar-skull decorating party, with a little history of the holiday thrown in, too.
Día de los Muertos at Museo de las Americas, November 1-2, free Join the Museo de las Americas for a Día de los Muertos celebration including a Mestizo Altar and community-welcome calaveras de azucar (sugar skull) decorating in honor of Jose Guadalupe Posada and the birth of La Catrina a century ago. Snack on pan de muerto and check out the Museo's latest exhibition, La Cocina.
30th Anniversary Day of the Dead show and celebration at Pirate: Contemporary Art, November 2-3, free One of the longest-running Día de los Muertos gatherings in Denver has been at Pirate: Contemporary Art (and the Navajo Art District that followed the co-ops relocation to the neighborhood). This huge, weekend party is now starting its fourth decade. Family-friendly but with plenty of attractions for adults, the Pirate celebration includes local art and altars from artists and schoolchildren, as well as its own participatory parade (complete with Aztec dancers), interfaith candlelight processional and a piñata for both kids and grown-ups. The gallery's Muertos Mart is a market of handmade goods, art and jewelry by local artists and boutiques like Squirrel Picnic, Anny B and Deviled Egg Designs. For a full list of activities and participating artists, visit the Pirate's website. Day of the Dead party at Tooey's, November 2, free Hit this just-off Colfax spot Saturday night for a Day of the Dead party of the adult variety. Enjoy live music from DJs Parris and Wesley Wayne and sit down for a sugar skull-inspired face-painting session with local artist Karma Leigh.
Santos Y Muertos at Dairy Center for the Arts, November 2, free Visit the Dairy Center for the Arts for a Day of the Dead celebration honoring family and friends who have passed on with traditional food and drinks and live music from Los Cheesies. Kristin Dalleske will be doing face-painting for children; a discussion of the history and culture of the Day of the Dead tradition will also be part of the mix.
Death Takes a Holiday at City Hall, November 2, $25 Promising a Día de los Muertos celebration of unique proportions, this history-traveling shindig asks party-goers to dress for the occasion. City Hall will be transformed with a Day of the Dead blowout exhibition, New Orleans-style, as Elite Force and Karl Sav provide the music. Tickets are selling fast, so get yours in advance.
Que Vivan los Muertos at Buffalo Exchange, November 2, free Head further south down Broadway for an early evening of art, music and a Day of the Dead celebration exhibit showcasing work from the likes of Knower of the Ledge, Xencs l. Wing, Alba Valerdi and more. DJ Unison will be behind the decks and the beer will be flowing for those of age.
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Día de los Muertos at the Mexican Cultural Center, Now through November 22, free Visit the Mexican Cultural Center any weekday through November 22 for a display of art relating to Día de los Muertos, from both a contemporary and historical perspective.