“The word death is not pronounced in New York, in Paris, in London, because it burns the lips. The Mexican, in contrast, is familiar with death, jokes about it, caresses it, sleeps with it, celebrates it, it is one of his favorite toys and his most steadfast love.” –Octavio Paz
Derived from divining rituals practiced by the Mayans and Aztecs along with Spanish influence, the Day of the Dead still stands firm as a beacon for those who believe, or want to believe, that death is a part of life. Art in the western world has always been fascinated with this notion—see Cézanne’s famous still-life paintings with their skulls and fruit, for example—but Día de los Muertos is the only holiday that takes the sentiment of those paintings and uses it to fuel a community event with massive participation. Here in Albuquerque, we definitely pronounce the word “death” (lip-burning and all) so naturally there'll be a whole array of Día De Los Muertos celebration options for everyone in the vicinity. Get out your calavera attire, paint your face (if it's not already tattooed, that is) and experience a splendidly unique holiday with your family and friends.
The culture's center
courtesy of NHCC on Facebook
The National Hispanic Cultural Center’s Despedida and Community Celebration is an all-ages celebration of heritage and folk tradition, including plenty of ofrendas on display. The event offers up a supply of pan de muerto, which is more delicious than its name might imply, and mmm-mmm, Mexican chocolate. Live music and poetry round things out. For those who can't swing the celebration, as well as those who just want to get another look at the ofrendas, the NHCC's Día de los Muertos exhibition will remain open through Sunday, Nov. 3.
When you were younger, did you ever sneak into the graveyard to do something illegal or weird? Well, on Friday, Nov. 1, from 5 to 7pm, enjoy a celebración among the graves without sneaking in. You can bring your whole family or just your friend Steve. The Día de los Muertos Celebracion event is brought to you by the organization that runs Atrisco’s three cemeteries, so the party's haunt is the San Jose de Armijo Cemetery in Albuquerque. El Campo Santo provides games, sugar skull painting, music, refreshments and a tiendita (little shop). In fact, they still may need volunteers. For that, you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Por Tierra y Por Mar (By Land and By Sea) will challenge viewers to open their hearts to some powerful student artwork. The paintings on display memorialize the plight of immigrants all over the world, helping to forge a collective identity for those who have suffered, and even died, in the name of freedom. The work is especially meaningful because some of these young and promising artists are themselves immigrants. This event’s sponsor, Working Classroom, prides itself on providing arts education to youths who'd otherwise miss out. There will be music by Steve Chavez and the New Mexico Marimba Band.
Join the Route 66 Hostel for their second annual Día de los Muertos gathering. What the party lacks in tradition, it makes up for in costumes and conviviality. Six bands plus an open mic promise an evening of high-energy entertainment. Calaveras are welcome—even expected—but no masks! Since there's no cover charge, be ready to donate to the folks at Kleft Jaw Press and Our Community Project who generously planned this party. The hostel’s usually packed full of travelers from across the globe, but on this evening, the hostel’s historic doors are thrown wide open for the whole city to enjoy.
The 10 bucks to get in to this event should be more than worth it to experience this ambitious marriage of performance and the paranormal. Día de los Muertos at the KiMo Theatre promises to provide auspicious offerings to the ancestors through myriad forms of self-expression. Once you walk in the doors, poet Jimmy Santiago Baca, hip-hop artist Myrlin Hepworth, artist Eric Christo Martinez and accordionist Kiko Glenn, among many others, will all be onhand to channel your senses toward those who have passed. An official after-party at ArtBar (119 Gold SW) will keep the spirits flowing.
Día de los Muertos Music, Poetry & Art Offerings for the Ancestors
Music can be more than a melody and a beat. At South Broadway Cultural Center’s Festividad de los Muertos, you can drop off the favorite music of a lost loved one at their community ofrenda (an altar for offerings). These unique sonic donations will serve as a soundtrack to the day-long celebration, which will include live entertainment, face painting, silhouette making and refreshments. The event is free, but you might want to bring a few bones—not those of the dead—for the art market. The celebration will be preceded by a screening of La Festividad de los Muertos-Lanii Xtee Tugul, an in-depth documentary about the Día de los Muertos practices of the Zapotec people in Oaxaca, Mexico. On Nov. 7 the film will be screened again, this time featuring talks from its very creators.
La Festividad de los Muertos and Film Screenings
Party: Sunday, Nov. 3, 2 to 6pm.
Film: Sunday Nov. 3, noon to 2pm and Thursday, Nov. 7, 7 to 9pm.
There may be no more proper and iconic Día De Los Muertos event in ABQ than the South Valley’s Marigold Parade. Break out the calaveras—de azucar and otherwise—and celebrate for a better living world. Mind the new parade start time of 2pm, kicking off at the Bernalillo Sheriff's Sub Station (2029 Isleta SW) and completing at the Westside Community Center, where you'll find music, ofrendas, food and art vendors. This year, event organizers La Raza Unida and Cambio provide shuttle service to avoid congestion along the parade route—catch it at the NHCC (Bridge and Fourth Street), Gateway Park (Bridge and Isleta), and the South Valley Economic Development Center (318 Isleta). Always powerful, this year’s slogan is "Sin papeles, sin miedo. People are not illegal, our ancestors are our documentation.”