Though Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos is officially celebrated on November 1, All Saints' Day, Denver's celebrations to honor the deceased have already begun. Here are ten events — both adult and family-friendly, chronological order — during which you can pay respect to the spirits.
1. Día de los Muertos Celebration
6-9 p.m. Friday, October 28
Alley between Market and Larimer Streets
The Larimer Arts Association is offering sugar-skull face painting, Día de los Muertos mask making and live music at this celebration. Food trucks and community artistic altars will line the area; you're encouraged to celebrate the lives of lost loved ones by bringing a photo or small offering to place on the altar of your choice. Adults only.
2. Lola's Day of the Dead Cooking Class
Noon-3 p.m. Saturday, October 29
Join Dolores “Lola” Wiarco Dweck for a Day of the Dead cooking class in Highlands Ranch. The $75 tuition includes a printed recipe packet, tequila tasting and hands-on instruction for a multi-course meal. Students will also learn how to build a traditional Día de los Muertos altar and which foods honor the dead. Visit lolascocina.com for more information.
3. Offering Making for Las Almas de Muertos
11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturday, October 29 (repeats Saturday, November 5)
Denver Art Museum
100 West 14th Avenue Parkway
Danette Montoya's work is part of a four-artist series emphasizing the Denver Art Museum’s pre-Columbian and Spanish Colonial art collections that runs through November 14. Her debut installation, Las Almas de Muertos, explores communal rituals like altar-making to honor the deceased. On Saturday, she'll lead a workshop on how to create an offering for an altar.
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4. Pirate's Day of the Dead Celebration and Día de los Muertos Makers Mart
2-10 p.m. Saturday, October 29
3655 Navajo Street
Pirate has held its Day of the Dead community party for over thirty years. This year's celebration includes a Makers Mart that opens at 2 p.m. Saturday, when you can also see the annual Day of the Dead exhibit (which closes October 30). The party starts at 5:30 p.m. with Aztec dancers and a piñata for the children, followed by a candlelit procession to Our Lady of Guadalupe Church to honor the dead. Visit pirateartonline.org for a full listing of events.
5. Celebración de Día de Muertos
Saturday, October 29
Nalanda Campus, Naropa University
6287 Arapahoe Avenue, Boulder
El Centro Amistad will be hosting a free celebration at Naropa to honor the dead. Traditional Day of the Dead food “pan de muertos” will be served, and family-friendly activities include face painting, altar decorating and a contest for the best-dressed adult “catrinas” and “catrines,” or fancy skeletons ($100 for the top contender). Click here for more information.
Keep reading for more Day of the Dead celebrations.
6. Annual Día de los Muertos
5:30 p.m. Tuesday, November 1
Escuela Tlatelolco Centro de Estudios
La Raza Park, West 38th Avenue
Escuela Tlatelolco and co-sponsors Grupo Tlaloc and Servicios de la Raza will lead Denver’s oldest Día de los Muertos celebration November 1 at La Raza Park. The march will head to Troy Chavez Peace Garden for a blessing, followed by a community dinner at Escuela Tlatelolco and Día de los Muertos performances and blessings.
7. First Friday
Friday, November 4
Art District on Santa Fe
Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center
Both Denver's Art District on Santa Fe and the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center will be dedicating November’s First Friday to Day of the Dead. Along Santa Fe Drive in Denver, galleries and sidewalk celebrations will offer Latin American music and traditional foods associated with Day of the Dead. In Colorado Springs, a First Friday art party will run from 5 to 7:30 p.m. at the Deco Lounge at the Colorado Springs Fine Arts Center, accompanying a show of work by local artists highlighting the Day of the Dead.
8. Calaveras y Ofrendas
6-9:30 p.m. Friday, November 4
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street
The Denver Botanic Gardens' grown-up Day of the Dead party returns with dancing, crafts and traditional Day of the Dead activities. Guests are encouraged to wear their finest Catrina and Catrín (elegant skeleton) costumes to compete for prizes. Tickets are $14 for members, $17 for non-members; prices increase by $5 at the door.
9. Día de los Muertos Celebration
Saturday, November 5
Denver Botanic Gardens
1007 York Street
This family-friendly event is included with admission to the Denver Botanic Gardens and includes face painting, children’s crafts, entertainment and demonstrations. Families can learn about the cultural significance of Day of the Dead and will have the opportunity to make altars and place offerings on them.
10. Day of the Dead Family Celebration
11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday, November 5
Longmont Museum and Cultural Center
400 Quail Road, Longmont
As an extension of the Longmont Museum and Cultural Center’s Día de los Muertos exhibit, which runs through November 8, the museum will hold its annual family celebration on November 5. Admission is free for this event, which includes such family-friendly activities as decorating sugar skulls, making paper flowers, building altars and face painting.