Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will celebrate the traditional Mexican holiday known as “Dia de los Muertos” this weekend with a big, colorful bash lively enough to wake the dead.
The family-friendly, three-day celebration – which pays homage to the dead – features live music, a bustling street fair, artists, sugar skull crafting workshops and ornate Day of the Dead altars and décor. The party goes down across several different “zones” in Old Town, including Bazaar del Mundo (Juan and Taylor streets), San Diego Avenue, the Whaley House and Fiesta de Reyes from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday, and 10 a.m. through 5 p.m. Sunday and Monday.
Throughout the fest, attendees will have a chance to join guided walking tours of elaborately decorated altars set up around shops and sites in Old Town, including one at El Campo Santo Cemetery. Each altar tells a story and, in Mexican tradition, honors the souls who have passed.
Revelers will also be treated to arts and crafts activities like paper mask-making and flower-making, and colorful Dia de los Muertos face painting. Some of those activities require a small fee ($10 to $15), while others are free.
Over at the Mormon Battalion Historic Site, attendees can search for their own dearly departed kin by taking part in a free ancestor look-up activity.
Participating Old Town restaurants like Casa Guadalajara, Rockin’ Baja Lobster, Café Coyote, Tequila Factory and Alamo Mexican Café will offer food and drink specials to patrons throughout the weekend-long celebration. A few “zones” will also serve free Mexican hot chocolate and apple cider. If you need a breather during the party, the Adobe Chapel has been designated as a rest station.
Though Old Town does have several large, free parking lots, the Dia de los Muertos celebration draws large crowds, so organizers suggest taking the Trolley to the Old Town Station or parking for free across the street at Caltrans on Saturday and Sunday.