From ‘Coco’ to Pacoima: Día de los Muertos Celebrations in L.A.

Catrina’s in Calaca masks at Olvera Street, Downtown Los Angeles, November 2, 2011. Photo by Elise Thompson

With contributions by Elise Thompson.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday that is also celebrated here in Los Angeles. It brings together families in a cultural melting pot of celebrations to honor the spirits of loved ones who reside in our hearts.

Similar to the Catholic holidays of All Saints’ Eve, All Saints’ Day, and All Souls’ Day, friends and family gather on the multi-day holiday to remember friends and family members who have died, and to help support their spiritual journeys. Colorful altars, or ofrendas, honor the deceased with calaveras, marigolds, favorite foods and beverages of the departed, and a few favorite possessions. Scholars have credited and linked many of the traditions to Aztec festivals rooted to the goddess Mictēcacihuātl.

Many celebrations around the city feature displays of ofrendas, honoring processions and prayers, music, food, dance, art, and other performances. Here are several that are continuing, orone day only, from now through to this weekend!

Procession dress and calacas at Olvera Street, Downtown Los Angeles, November 2, 2011. Photo by Elise Thompson

Ongoing until November 2, 2018

Day of the Dead Festival at Olvera Street – Friday, November 2, 2018, 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Constructed and created in 1930, Olvera Street and it’s Mexican Marketplace is one L.A.’s oldest landmarks and is often said to be “the birthplace of Los Angeles.” Currently celebrating Día de los Muertos with a free and open to the public event, The Day of the Dead Festival at Olvera Street includes a Novenario Procession at 7:00 p.m. with Community Altars on display, from 12:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m. The block-long brick-lined market, with street vendors, cafes, restaurants, and gift shops will be open, along with several historical museums to visit as well. Be sure to step into the Olvera Candle Shop for a bevy of Day of the Dead decor.

Olvera St – 845 N Alameda St, Los Angeles, CA 90012

For full event details www.olveraevents.com.

Facebook Event info

Ongoing until November 3, 2018

Grand Park – Friday, November 2 – 3, 2018, 5:30 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Grand Park celebrates the traditions of Día de los Muertos in partnership with Self Help Graphics & Art and LORE Media & Arts, the park will present 50 altars and art installations created by local artists and community groups that reflect the theme Looking to the Past to Build the Future. Free guided tours will highlight the artwork and discuss the traditions of the holiday. Grand Park is an L.A. County park powered by The Music Center: Performing Arts Center of Los Angeles.

Grand Park – 200 N Grand Ave, Los Angeles, California 90012

Facebook Event info

November 2, 2018

12th Annual Día de los Muertos Street Festival, Los Angeles – Friday, November 2, 2018,  6 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Hosted by 24th Street Theatre, the 12th Annual Día de los Muertos festival, in partnership with LA City Councilmembers Marqueece Harris-Dawson and Gil Cedillo, State Assemblymember Reggie Jones-Sawyer, Sr., and the Department of Cultural Affairs L.A. will feature food, crafts, altars, dance performances, amd musical performers Louie Cruz Beltran Ensemble, The Space Sanchos, and Son Jarochicano Los Cambalache round out the free event!

12th Annual Dia De Los Muertos Street Festival, Los Angeles – 1117 W 24th St, Los Angeles, CA 90007

Facebook Event info

5th Annual Día de los Muertos Festival, Long Beach – Friday, November 2, 2018, 6 p.m. – 11 p.m.

The 5th Annual Día de los Muertos Long Beach presented by 1st District City Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez, Centro CHA Inc, Arts Council for Long Beach and Opus Technique will be a celebration of cultures and traditions, featuring dance, food, arts, crafts, and world-class music from around the Latin community. The streets of Pine Ave in Downtown Long Beach will transform into a Grand Celebration & Street Extravaganza with breathtaking Latin Cultural Arts & Entertainment.

5th Annual Día de los Muertos Festival, Long Beach – 433 Pine Ave, Long Beach, 90803

Facebook Event info

Rooftop Movies, Silent Disco, bar and Umami Burger, at The Montalbán, Hollywood, California, July 23, 2018. Photo by Monique A. LeBleu

Coco – For Día de los Muertos, Rooftop Movie at The Montalbán, Hollywood – Friday, November 2, 2018,  8:00 p.m.

Disney Pixar’s animated gem “Coco,” sends young aspiring musician Miguel (Anthony Gonzalez) on a spirited quest into the colorful The Land of the Dead in search of his great-great-grandfather—a legendary musician—for answers on a generations-old ban on music. The family friendly film in itself is a celebration of Día de los Muertos. For the Rooftop Movies, the doors open at 6:00 p.m. so that early birds can stake out one of the “beach” chairs or love seats, get headphones, refreshments and take an extended gander at the unique Hollywood rooftop view, play Jenga, or to just chill before the movie starts. Come in Day of the Dead costume and calaca for the event and take photos of your costume in the Selfie Photo Both. The movie is from 8:00 p.m. – 11:00 p.m.

The Rooftop portion of the venue is 18 and older only, so be sure to bring your ID. Be advised that there is no ADA access for the rooftop screenings on the roof and that access to the rooftop is via stairs ONLY, as the historic theatre is a 100 years old with no elevator service.

The Montalbán – 1615 Vine St, Hollywood.

(Previously published and updated from this article.)

Procession at Self Help Graphics. Photo by Elise Thompson.

45th Annual Día de los Muertos Celebration – Friday, November 2, 2018,          5 p.m. – 10 p.m.

Self Help Graphics Presents its 45th Annual Día de los Muertos Celebration & Exhibition at Mendez High School. There will be a procession from Mariachi Plaza to Mendez HS beginning at 5 p.m. (meet-up at 4:30 p.m. and Calaca/ Day of the Dead attire encouraged).  A festival setting with food vendors, pan de muerto for sale, mobile sculptures, a large-scale Day of the Dead art installations, face-painting, plus hand-crafted and one-of-a-kind gifts from our Muertito Market vendors. There is a Dia de los Muertos exhibition, “How We Remember and How We Survive” curated by Dewey Tafoya, open to the public during 11/2 celebration until 9 p.m. at Self Help Graphics.

Martha Gonzalez of Grammy award-winning Quetzal and Karl Schmid of ABC7 SoCal Spotlight will host the opening program from 6 – 7 p.m., with Live performances by headliner California Feetwarmers, La Chamba, The Altons, Noé Montoya (El Teatro Campesino), Danza Divina de Los Angeles (Indigital Productions) DJ Gazoo (Subsuelo), Danza Chicomecatl and Muertitio Market Vendors  and artists from A to Z!

45th Annual Día de los Muertos Celebration – Mendez High School 1200 Plaza Del Sol, Los Angeles, 90033

Facebook Event info

November 3, 2018

Día de los Muertos Queer Salsa/Bachata Dance, Pasadena – Saturday, November 3, 2018 – 9:00 p.m.

The Queer Latin Dance LA Social will celebrate Día de los Muertos with a Salsa class at 9 p.m. with Arlene the Salsa Queen, Bachata at 9:40 with Karin, and followed by Social Dancing with DJ Carlos. $5 cover includes both classes, food, and refreshments and some face painting. Neither a dance partner nor dance experience is needed to attend the event.

Lumina Academy of Dance – 1052 N Allen Ave, Pasadena, California 91104

Facebook Event info

Santa Monica – Día de los Muertos celebration, Saturday, November 3, 2018, 11 a.m. – 3 p.m.

The City of Santa Monica Community & Cultural Services Department, Woodlawn Cemetery, Mortuary & Mausoleum, and the Santa Monica Public Library will present the Seventh Annual Día de los Muertos celebration, a family-friendly event celebrating the cycle of life and the remembrance with altars, musicians, dancers, marigold offerings, a slide show honoring lost loved ones, food trucks, and a communal memory wall.

The event with open with an Aztec blessing by Ketzalitzli, followed by performances by Ballet Folklorico Flor de Mayo, Conjunto Tenocelomeh  Son Jarocho folk music & dance from Southern Veracruz, a Celebrating Día de los Muertos in Oaxaca Photo Exhibit by Gabriel Martinez and talk with the artist, and Mariachi Monumental-a strolling mariachi group. In the Mausoleum, Antonio Sacre will tell Día de los Muertos inspired folk tales, myths & legends in English & Spanish

The cemetery is easily accessible by foot, bike, bus or car, with free bike valet provided. Free parking is available at the Santa Monica College lot located between 16th and 17th Streets on Pico Blvd. A shuttle service will be available between the SMC Lot to the cemetery entrance between 11 am and 4 pm and pets are not allowed in the cemetery.

Woodlawn Cemetery – 1847 14th Street, Santa Monica

Facebook Event info

Sugar skulls for Dia de los Muertos at Olvera Street, Downtown Los Angeles, November 2, 2011. Photo by Elise Thompson

Pacoima Día de los Muertos Music & Arts Festival – Saturday, November 3, 2018, 12 p.m. – 9 p.m., Sunday, November 4, 2018 12 p.m. – 6 p.m., 

Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez will present a Día de los Muertos arts & music festival along Van Nuys Boulevard at Pacoima City Hall.  The two-day street festival along Van Nuys Boulevard in Pacoima will celebrate featuring Latino artists and entertainers, food, a Catrina contest, and community vendors, with featured performances by These Handsome Devils, Selenamos, Urban Soul, Banda La Pegadora de Sylmar, Joyas Divinas Del Valle, Sara’s Soul, and the Frank Giron Band.  The Catrina Contest is Saturday, November 3rd.  There will be prizes for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place winners, so come out in your best Catrina costumes.

Día de los Muertos Music & Arts Festival, Pacoima – 13520 Van Nuys Blvd., Pacoima,

Facebook Event info

November 4, 2018

The 18th Annual Día de los Muertos, Canoga Park – Sunday, November 4, 2018, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.

The 18th Annual Día de los Muertos in Canoga Park grass-roots community free event will once again bring back Aztec Dancers, Mariachi, Banda, Spanish and English Pop and Rock Music Performances, with unique Arts and Crafts, vendors, food trucks, face painting, a Classic Car Show, and SO much more! This grassroots, community-driven event flows through the Heart of Canoga Park and we can’t wait to come together for another beautiful celebration.

The 18th Annual Día de los Muertos, Canoga – Sherman Way and Owensmouth, Canoga Park

Facebook Event info

More Día de los Muertos stories in The L.A. Beat:

Photo Gallery: Self Help Graphics & Art’s 43rd Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration

Photo Gallery: Self Help Graphics & Art’s 43rd Annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration

Among the Dead with Author Caleb Wilde

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About Monique A. LeBleu

Monique A. LeBleu is a writer, photographer, videographer, shameless foodie and wineaux. Her love of film history and a background in film production, post production and film theory give her unique insights into her movie reviews, and a brief background in technical theater fuels her passion on all-things theater and film. As a foodie, living in the ever-growing and diverse culinary landscape that is the City of Los Angeles feeds her never-ending pursuit of the perfect comfort food. She lives in the hope that someday she'll find the world's best Mac n' Cheese to pair with a saucy Malbec. ScopingLA
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