San Diego

Celebrating Dia de los Muertos in San Diego

Día de los Muertos, one of the most important holidays in Mexico and many South American countries, has become an annual tradition here in San Diego.

It's one of many traditions that have crossed the U.S.-Mexico border and is practiced by families throughout the Southwest.

Also known as "Day of the Dead," the holiday is marked by a multi-day festival celebrated primarily in Mexico or by persons of Mexican heritage to honor loved ones who have passed on to the afterworld.

In Old Town San Diego, there will be a three-day festival beginning Nov. 1.

Altars created in honor of the departed are decorated in Aztec Marigolds, the favorite foods and music.

There are a number of local events planned to mark the holiday.

La Vista Historical Foundation is hosting its 10th annual Día de los Muertos Celebration on Sat., Oct. 20 from 2 p.m.- 10 p.m. This event draws about 10,000 visitors to La Vista Memorial Park in National City.

The Día de los Muertos event will be filled with performances, artisan demonstrations, face painting, traditional rituals and more.

They will have Aztec dancers, Mariachi and ballet folklorico performances. In addition, a performance by the Colombian music group La Sonora Dinamita.

La Vista Historical Foundation will host dozens of artists and artisans who’ve traveled from various countries to showcase their one of a kind works to sell at the art walk.

David Linares, nephew of the Linares family in the book Great Masters of Mexican Folk Art, will be visiting from Mexico City to showcase his art of alebrijes.

Alebrijes are brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical creatures that often adorn altars.

International visual artist Antonio Escalante will unveil this year’s community altar, named the Tree of Life, where guests are welcomed to decorate it with a picture of their loved ones who have passed away.

“For all those people that are not able to go to their hometown Mexico or those who have never traveled to Mexico this is an opportunity to see culture at its highest level of art, and respect,” Luisa McCarthy, CEO of La Vista Historical Foundation said.

“It's going to be a mosaic of art for anyone who attends.”

There are other Día de los Muertos events planned around San Diego. Here's our list: 

Saturday, Oct. 27

Día de los Muertos Celebration

The 24th Annual Sherman Heights Day of the Dead Celebration will be held at the Sherman Heights Community Center. They will have altars, vendors, food and workshops for the whole family. Admission is free.

Encinitas Día de los Muertos Celebration

Come and celebrate life up north at the Encinitas Día de los Muertos celebration. With live performances, art-making workshops, a student, artist demos, live mariachi and more. This free event is for the whole family.

Day of the Dead Festival- North Park

An array of Mexican themed artisanal crafts from throughout the US will be on display along Ray Street in the heart of North Park. This free family event will have sugar skull decorating, face painting, a community altar and more.

Sunday, Oct. 28

Día de los Muertos, Oceanside

Mission San Luis Rey will have an all-day community event with diverse cultural traditions from Mexico. It will be their 17th annual Día de los Muertos with food, shopping and entertainment. Plus, enter to win a stay at the Mission for you and a guest by completing a survey with one of their teams in purple shirts. This event is free for the whole family.

Nov. 1-4

Old Town San Diego’s Dia de los Muertos

The annual Día de los Muertos event held at Old Town draws over 75,000 visitors. There will be face painting, live entertainment, artists, vendors, kid's area and more. This family event will be free for the whole family to enjoy.

Here's more information on the National City event: 

In addition, the Foundation will host their annual altar contest and Catrina contest. The altars will be judged in three categories, $1,000 to the most traditional, $500 to the most original and $250 to the most creative. The Catrina contest winner will receive $500. Click here to enter the contests. 

Tickets start at $5 for general admission and $50 for VIP. Tickets can be purchased online, at Westfield Plaza Bonita or at La Vista Memorial Park. Admission is free to children five and under and to seniors 65 and up. They will have a free shuttle service at Westfield Plaza Bonita near Broken Yolk Café from 2 p.m.-11 p.m. 

To view more information or to buy tickets visit their website.

Share your family's traditions for this holiday with us on our Facebook page. 

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