Tuesday, October 8, 2019
A Busy Calendar of Events
In just over a week I will return to my home away from home, Mexico City. This time of year is an especially exciting time to visit the city because of the many events in late October and early November observing "Día de Muertos"... the Day of the Dead. Several months ago I wrote that the city government had announced the dates for the Day of the Dead events. Yesterday I was doing some more research, and seems that there are even more events this year. I'm not sure if these are new events or if I simply was not aware of them last year. Mexico City is definitely promoting tourism and making "Día de Muertos" a mega-event to rival Mardi Gras in New Orleans or "Carnaval" in Rio de Janeiro. (Although I would say that these events are much more family friendly.)
It is going to be very busy trip to Mexico City for me. Many of the events are on weekends so my friend Alejandro will be able to join me, but there are others on weekdays which I will attend by myself.
Saturday, October 19th
Just a few days after my arrival the festivities will commence with the Parade of Monumental Alebrijes. If you read this blog regularly, you probably know that "alebrijes" are colorful sculptures of fantastical animals. In this case the "alebrijes", made of cardboard and papier mache, are enormous creations that are wheeled down the streets of Mexico City. This event, sponsored by the Museum of Popular Arts features around 200 entries, some created by profesional artists, others by local groups. After the parade the "alebrijes" are put on display along the Paseo de la Reforma, the city's most elegant boulevard.
That evening we can go to Chapultepec Park. There will be projections to make one of the park's lakes look like a field of "cempasuchil"... marigolds... the traditional flower of the Day of the Dead.
Thursday, October 24th
The Festival of the Day of the Dead is a party which officially kicks off the season. It will be held from 4:00 P.M. until 8:00 P.M. by the Monument of the Revolution. As night falls, the Monument will be illuminated in orange lights. (No, not the orange of a Halloween pumpkin, but the orange of the traditional marigolds.) I believe that this is a new event.
Friday, October 25th
On this day, the "mega-ofrenda" will be inaugurated on Mexico City's main plaza, the Zócalo. An "ofrenda" (literally "offering") is the altar which Mexican families set up in their homes in remembrance of departed loved ones. For several years, the city has been setting up an enormous display on the Zócalo.
Saturday, October 26
The "Mega-Procession of Catrinas" is held along the Paseo de la Reforma at 6:00 P.M. The "catrinas" (and the male counterpart, "catrines") are elegantly dressed skeletons that have become emblematic of the Day of the Dead. Thousands of residents, dressed to the nines as "catrinas" and "catrines" will parade down the boulevard. (Absolutely no Halloween costumes permitted!)
Sunday, October 27
The "International Parade of Day of the Dead" parade will leave the Zócalo at 2:00 P.M. and march all the way to the Polanco neighborhood beyond Chapultepec Park. This, I believe, is another new event. Not only will it honor Mexico's culture, but other countries have been invited to participate.
Thursday, October 31 - Saturday, November 2
Day of the Dead will be celebrated in the neighborhood of Tlalpan, on Mexico City's south side. They will have their own "mega-ofrenda" as well as other displays and events. I will try to take the Metrobus down to that district on Thursday.
Saturday, November 2
The "Grand Parade of the Day of the Dead" is the big parade that evolved out of the James Bond movie "Spectre". That movie begins with a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City... a parade which had in fact never existed in the city. When tourists started asking when the event was scheduled, the government three years ago began holding a parade on the Saturday before the Day of the Dead. This year Day of the Dead falls on a Saturday, so the parade will be on November 2.
In just three years the popularity of the parade has grown tremendously, attended by residents and tourists alike. Last year I would not be surprised if there were a million spectators along the parade route. It is necessary to stake a claim along the street two or three hours ahead of time. I really was not sure if I wanted to go again this year, but it was obvious when I talked to Alejandro that he wanted to go. Not only that, but a friend of his from Argentina is coming to Mexico City to see the parade. So I guess that clinches it. When I get to Mexico City, I am going to see if I can find a store that sells camping equipment and buy some portable camping stools, so that we can sit while waiting for the parade to start.
That weekend there is also a "Festival of Coffee, Chocolate and Bread of the Dead" held in the southern neighborhood of Coyoacán. Perhaps we can go there on Sunday.
Unrelated to the Day of the Dead...
Friday, November 8 - Saturday, November 9
Cultural events will be held on the Zócalo to commemorate the 500th anniversary of the fateful arrival of the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés and his first meeting with the Aztec emperor Moctezuma.
My cousin Gail and her friend will be arriving after all of this is over, but they will still have a taste of the Day of the Dead celebration because the "Mega-Ofrenda" will still be in place on the Zócalo and the "alebrijes" will still be on display along the Paseo de la Reforma.
This will be a super-busy trip to Mexico City! I can't wait!