Oaxaca mural

Oaxaca mural

Friday, June 28, 2019

Coming Events

One thing that I have found annoying about Mexico is that the dates of upcoming events are usually not announced far ahead of time.  This is not a good practice if Mexico wants to promote international tourism for those events.  A potential visitor wants to make travel plans more than a few weeks ahead of time. 

On the Mexico City travel forum on Trip Advisor people frequently ask when the Day of the Dead Parade will be held.  And we have to reply that a date has not been announced and probably will not be announced until a scant month ahead of time.

Well it seems that someone in the city government wised up.  A few days ago the Secretary of Culture, promoting Mexico City as the "Cultural Capital of the Americas" announced a calendar of upcoming festivals for 2019.  The events include a Latin American Film Festival, an International Book Fair, and... the much anticipated celebrations for the Day of the Dead!

So, if you are interested in visiting Mexico City for the Day of the Dead, mark your calendars, because here are the dates for the big three events during that season.

The Parade of Monumental Alebrijes
Saturday, October 19th 

The Alebrije Parade of 2018

Since 2007 the Museum of Popular Arts has sponsored a parade of "alebrijes".  "Alebrijes" are colorful sculptures of fantastical creatures made of wood, cardboard or papier mache.  The parade consists of BIG "alebrijes", some of them as tall as 12 feet high, and there are usually around 200 entries.  It is generally held on the Saturday two weeks before the Day of the Dead, and that will hold true again this year.  I have been to the last two parades, and I plan to go again when I am there in October.  It is great fun, and, surprisingly, there is not an enormous crush of spectators along the parade route.   

The Mega-Procession of "Catrinas"
Saturday, October 26th

The Procession of "Catrinas", 2018
Last year was the first time that I attended this event.  Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of people march down the Paseo de la Reforma dressed and painted as "catrinas" (or the male counterpart, "catrines"), the elegantly dressed skeletons that are an iconic part of the Day of the Dead festivities.   The crowds are bigger for this event, but I was still able to get close-up photos of the participants without waiting for hours along the procession route ahead of time.  Last year the procession was held on Sunday, the day after the Alebrije Parade.  This year, however, it will be on the Saturday before the Day of the Dead.  I definitely want to attend again this year.

The Grand Parade of the Day of the Dead
Saturday, November 2nd

Day of the Dead Parade in 2017

This year will mark the 4th annual Day of the Dead Parade.  I have attended the last two parades.  It had an unlikely origin.  The 2015 James Bond film "Specter" opened with a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City... something that, in truth, had never been a part of the city's observance of the holiday.  But after that, tourists began asking when the Day of the Dead Parade would be, so in 2016 the city organized the first parade.  Some Mexicans still refer to it derisively as the "James Bond Parade" and say that it is a "fake" event. But it is hugely popular with Mexicans and tourists alike.  When I first attended there was a big crowd of spectators.  Last year, the crowd was at least twice as big.  I would not be surprised if there were a million people along the parade route.

Both years the parade was held the Saturday before Day of the Dead, but this year the holiday falls on a Saturday, and that is when the parade will be held.  I am not sure if I want to put up with the enormous crowds again this year, but the parade is definitely a great event... despite its detractors.  

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