If you get warm fuzzy feelings for fall festivities, then downtown San Antonio is a prime October destination. In addition to Halloween and Oktoberfest events, it's playing host to yet another autumn holiday — Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead. In many Latin American cultures, death is seen as a natural part of the human life cycle, and Día de los Muertos is a three-day celebration honoring the departed. The holiday isn't a time to be sad but one to celebrate loved ones who have passed away. Attendees of the celebration remember deceased friends and family members with ofrendas (altars), flowers, gifts — and of course — enough tequila to make your abuelita roll over in her grave. Here's a list of some of the best family-friendly Día de los Muertos events happening in San Antonio.
Muertos Fest at Hemisfair
The largest annual Day of the Dead celebration in Texas — Muertos Fest — is getting even bigger. Starting this year, the free two-day event will take place at a new location in Hemisfair and include a back-to-back lineup of rich cultural entertainment, including musical performances by La Santa Cecilia, El Dusty, Piñata Protest and more. Visitors can experience the best parts of San Antonio culture through local art vendors, colorful ofrenda exhibitions, delicious food and refreshing drinks. Proceeds from the event will benefit Inner City Development, a nonprofit organization that aids the neighborhood on the near West Side of San Antonio. Free, 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 26; noon to 9 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 27; Hemisfair, 434 S. Alamo St., (210) 709-4750, muertosfest.com.
Día de los Muertos Celebration con Esperanza
The Esperanza Peace and Justice Center is honoring Día de los Muertos with an annual celebration that includes live performances from local musicians including Alyson Alonzo, Las Tesoros de San Antonio and Azul Barrientos. Expect displays of community ofrendas, clay-sculpting demonstrations, face painting, poetry readings and a procession through the neighborhood. Visitors will also be able to try traditional foods such as Mexican hot chocolate, tamales and pan de muerto. Free, 5-11 p.m., Friday, Nov. 1, Rinconcito de Esperanza, 816 S. Colorado St., (210) 228-0201, esperanzacenter.org.
Day of the Dead San Antonio
The city of San Antonio is going all out with its inaugural festival centered around La Villita. This three-day celebration will kick off with the city’s first ever “Catrinas on the River” parade, which will feature colorful Day of the Dead hallmarks on the San Antonio Riverwalk. Festivities will also include a “Celebrating Life” 5K race, starting at Mission Park Funeral Chapels and Cemeteries. Visitors can expect a wide range of attractions, including activities for children, live performances, gastronomical treats, colorful altars, art and exhibitions on the history and culture of the holiday. Free, but some associated events have ticket prices ranging from $15-$100, 6-11 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2, noon-6 p.m. Sunday, Nov. 3, La Villita Historic Arts Village, (210) 207-8614, dodsat.com.
Día de los Muertos at the Pearl
Day of the Dead San Antonio
The Pearl development will honor the lives of lost loved ones with its third annual Día de los Muertos celebration. Visitors at the two-day event can expect live music from local artists, family-appropriate crafting activities, vendors, food and drinks. Altars created by local and regional artists will also be on display across the Pearl property. Visitors will be able to join a procession on Friday evening. Costumes and face-painting are encouraged. Free, 5-9 p.m. Friday, Nov. 1 and Saturday, Nov. 2, Pearl Brewery, 312 Pearl Parkway, (210) 212-7260, atpearl.com.
Say Sí Muertitos Fest
SAY Sí curates one of San Antonio’s most comprehensive Día de los Muertos celebrations — one focused on providing attendees with important cultural context on the holiday. This year’s theme, Mestizo, will feature a multidisciplinary showcase of student art, altars to honor the departed, family folk-art workshops, food booths and an artisan mercado, plus live performances from local dancers, musicians and entertainers. Free, 6-10:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 1, noon-4 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 2, SAY Sí, 1518 S. Alamo St., (210) 212-8666, saysi.org.
Centro Cultural Aztlan: Día de los Muertos on the Old Spanish Trail
Since 1977, Centro Cultural Aztlan has invited visitors to take part in one of San Antonio’s biggest and oldest Día de los Muertos Celebrations, in which community artists are invited to transform the gallery into a sumptuous feast for the senses. This year’s exhibition, “Altares y Ofrendas,” illustrates the artistic, cultural and religious facets of the holiday, where death is seen as a natural part of the human cycle. Volcan, I Ching Gatos, Juan y Armando Tejeda and others will provide musical entertainment. Visitors can also expect to enjoy an artisan market, food trucks, face painting and pan de muerto. Free, noon-10 p.m., Saturday, Nov. 2, Centro Cultural Aztlan, 1800 Fredericksburg Road, Suite 103, (210) 432-1896, centroaztlan.org.
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