Photography Provided By: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., Sculpture By: Ricardo Soltero
Photography Provided By: Downtown Santa Monica, Inc., Sculpture By: Ricardo Soltero

10 Ways to Celebrate Día de los Muertos in LA This Year

These Day of the Dead Celebrations Are as Sweet as Pan de Muerto

Break out the ofrendas—it’s time to celebrate Día de los Muertos. In this sacred Mexican tradition, it’s believed that the veil to the afterlife is the thinnest on Nov. 1-2, allowing the living to be reunited with the dearly departed. Families create altars for deceased family members with offerings, decorate with brightly hued marigolds and celebrate with holiday comida, such as sugar skulls, pan de muerto, mole negro and sopa azteca. Whether you’re practicing your family’s traditions or looking for some new ones, here are a few ways to celebrate Día de los Muertos in Los Angeles this year. Día de Los Muertos LA


Out and About

Photography Provided By: Mama Shelter

Celebrate with a night on the town! Head to Resident on Oct. 29 for their LGBTQ Halloween event, Lez Croix. Sip a Milagro cocktail and put on your best sugar skull for an epic night ahead. Then on Tuesday, head to Pattern Bar in DTLA for more good vibes at their taco Tuesday celebration and a El Chamuco cocktail (made with Milagro blanco, housemade ginger beer and creme cassis). And if you’re still searching for more fun, head to Mama Shelter’s rooftop for a mellow evening filled with the bright colors of Día de los Muertos. Order the Montenegro Frozen Margarita for $10, as Día de los Muertos lands on Margarita Monday! 

Día de Los Muertos LA

The 22nd Annual Día de los Muertos and Noche de los Muertos

Where: Hollywood Forever
When: Oct. 30

Photography Provided By: Cinespia, Kelly Lee Barrett

Head over to the famous Hollywood Forever Cemetery for two tradition-forward events: Día de los Muertos and Noche de los Muertos. The daytime event takes place from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. and includes altars, two stages, Folklorico dance, Aztec performances, culinary vendors, a children’s plaza and more. The nighttime event also offers food, dancing and loads of cultural performances on both of the stages, as well as the main event: The Return of Quetzalcoatl.


Snapchat Lens from Milagro Tequila

If you didn’t take a snap, did the fun actually happen? Complete your Día de los Muertos celebration with this fun Snapchat Lens from Milagro Tequila. It’s proof that Milagro always knows how to get the party started—whether it’s in a glass or on your phone! 


Olvera Street Merchants Association Foundation Día de los Muertos Festival

Where: Historic Olvera St
When: Oct. 25 – Nov. 2

Photo by Larry Costales on Unsplash

Get ready for a nine-day Dia de los Muertos event unlike any other! This annual celebration features days of cultural festivities and happenings, so you can celebrate any way you like. Enjoy daily Novenario Processions with traditional Mayan blessings before and after the parade, outdoor community altars, face painting and plenty of family-friendly entertainment, including a performance of La Danza de la Muerte from Teatro del Barrio.

Día de Los Muertos LA

Carrera de los Muertos 5K Run/Walk

Where: Historic Olvera St
When: Oct. 30

Make sure that sugar skull face paint is sweatproof and join the crowd on Historic Olvera St Downtown for a 5K run/walk in celebration of Day of the Dead. You can tour the historic grounds of the street and enjoy music as you make your way through the course. After you complete the run, join in on the post-race celebration! Packet pick-up opens at 6:30 a.m., and the race begins at 8 a.m.


21st Annual Día de los Muertos Family Festival

Where: Canoga Park
When: Nov. 7

From 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., you and your family can enjoy an all-day festival of traditional music, dancing, food and more at Canoga Park. Enjoy live music, Calaveras, Aztec dancers, Folklorico and a classic car show. Bring the niños along for arts and crafts, and be sure to come hungry to enjoy all the food vendors. It’s a fun way to celebrate and keep the festivities alive after the holiday passes.

Día de Los Muertos LA

Calaca Workshop

When: Oct. 30
Where: Billie Jean King Main Library

An important part of any Día de los Muertos decor, a calaca (skull/skeleton figurine) is a must-have for your altar. And should you want to make your own this year, Long Beach Public Library is offering an adult calaca workshop. Early Literacy/Reading Program Specialist Sheridan Jay Cazarez says, “We’ll be doing in-depth crafting. We’ll look at a presentation going over ancient iconography to modern-day traditions while painting and decorating our own papier-mache calacas.” Don’t wait too long, though—these tickets are going fast!

Local Insight: Cazarez shares that Long Beach Public Library is also creating “300 skeleton craft kits for kids, available at any location starting Oct. 23.” The kits come with everything kids need to create a fun paper skeleton, and they’ll be able to work on it at their own pace.


Día de los Muertos Community Celebration

When: Oct. 30
Where: Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica

Head to Santa Monica for a family-friendly community celebration! Browse through the 30+ booths from various vendors and watch a diverse lineup of performances by Santa Monica Ballet Folklórico, Ballet Folklórico Flor de Mayo and Santa Monica Youth Orchestra Mariachi Perla del Oeste. The celebration begins at 5 p.m. on Saturday and ends at 10 p.m. Be sure to snap a picture of the “La Catrina” sculpture created by LA artist Ricardo Soltero. 

Día de Los Muertos LA

Sugar Skull Makeup

“Other cultures might think of it as scary, but what this holiday really represents is an opportunity for friends and family to gather together and celebrate and remember their loved ones that have passed away,” makeup artist and content creator Jessica Quila says. “And painting your face as a skull is a huge tradition in Mexico for Día de los Muertos.” If you’re interested in creating your own look, take a look at Quila’s Day of the Dead Makeup tutorial.

Día de Los Muertos LA

Special Modelo Cans

Take your party to the next level with Modelo cans specifically designed by famous tattoo artist Mister Cartoon. In a recent commercial, “The Fighting Spirit of Mister Cartoon,” Modelo featured Mister Cartoon to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month, and now the artist’s work will be featured on limited-edition Modelo cans. iSalud!


Shop OaxacaMia

Whether you want to shop brick-and-mortar on Normandie Ave or online through the Etsy shop, OaxacaMia is the perfect place to pick up traditional Mexican clothing, jewelry, accessories and decor. Personally, we have our eyes on this Maria Bonita dress and this colorful jewelry set. No matter what you need, OaxacaMia can help you celebrate in style.

Writer | Website | + posts

Born and raised near the Pacific Coast, Jordan Nishkian is a California girl through and through. She graduated from Cal State Long Beach with a BA in Creative Writing and a BA in Anthropology, and her favorite place to be is curled up in a comfy chair with a book in her hand and a pen in her hair.


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