Dia de los Muertos is traditionally a significant time of remembrance, when family members and friends who have died are never far from people’s thoughts. In the UK, the colourful costume of Mexican Day of the Dead, has become a familiar sight around Halloween.
Here, we take a look at the Day of the Dead 2018 events being held across the UK in October and November that reflect some of the customs and traditions of the festival honouring the dearly-loved and much-missed.
The building of a traditional flower-decked Mexican Dia de los Muertos ofrenda or altar is among the community events set to take place at Redbridge’s family-friendly 2018 Day of the Dead Festival on October 20.
Carnival specialist Mandinga Arts will be leading a colourful costumed parade, with mask-making, storytelling, music and craft events taking place throughout the day.
Picture by Tomas Castelazo, via CreativeCommons
Ayr’s annual autumn festival from October 27 to November 1 combines Halloween, Day of the Dead and the ghostly legend of Tam O’Shanter.
Among a packed schedule of family events is Ayr’s Day o’ the Deid procession through the town centre on October 29, accompanied this year by Glasgow street band SambaYaBamba. Turn up in Dia de los Muertos costume, face paint and join the parade.
Artist Leona Stewart has been working with community groups and schools throughout the year to help them create banners and props for this uplifting carnival procession. There’s also a crafts workshop for children at the Carnegie Library on October 18, to make colourful masks for the parade.
There’s an opportunity to learn more about the history and culture behind Mexico’s Day of the Dead at Bristol Museum and Art Gallery on November 3.
Admission is free to this fun and family-friendly Day of the Dead event, which is part of Bristol Family Arts Festival. Activities include the chance to create an ofrenda, a shrine traditionally made at this time of year, to celebrate the memory of special family and friends.
There will also be face painting, puppet shows, music and dance, plus the opportunity to have a selfie taken with famous Dia de los Muertos icon La Catrina.
The American Museum at Claverton Manor in Bath will be hosting a special Week of the Dead family trail between October 20 and 28.
It’s a chance to discover more about how families across Mexico and the American South West remember much-loved family members and friends who have died, during this festival time. The week includes family fun trails, costume-making events and sugar-skull decorating workshops. See the museum’s online events page for more details.
On October 28, Bournemouth’s Metropole Street Market is the outdoor venue for the town’s 2018 Dia de los Muertos themed day.
It’s a free event, with people encouraged to dress up and join in with the festival spirit, as well as enjoy Mexican-style food, Latin-inspired music and watch family-friendly street art performances.
London’s Victoria and Albert Museum is calling for visitors to dress up their best for its free Dia de Los Muertos festival on November 2.
There’ll be Mariachi music and Mexican dancing, giant skeleton puppets and a traditional ofrenda, dedicated to the memory of artist Frida Kahlo.
With activities for all ages to take part in, there will be a fancy dress procession prizes in store for the best three Day of the Dead costumes.
Still open for burials, Bristol’s historic Arnos Vale Cemetery is also a space that the living enjoy for leisure.
Day of the Dead features among the diary dates on Arnos Vale’s packed calendar of family and cultural events for 2018. From October 27 to November 4, friends of the cemetery will be decorating a traditional Mexican ofrenda, with members of the public invited to add their own photos of loved ones in remembrance to the shrine.
Arnos Vale will also be hosting Day of the Dead workshops for children on November 4. With activities including sugar skull decorating, making paper marigolds for remembrance and mask-making, sessions are an hour and half long and cost £7 per place.
Taking place on November 1 and 2 at the famous County Antrim beauty spot, this National Trust Day of the Dead event explores how other cultures remember loved ones who have died.
Activities to take part in face painting, tissue paper craft, with Latin-inspired food and music to enjoy and a sugar-skull trail for young explorers to follow.
Across Scotland and online from November 1 to 7, loved ones will be remembered at events taking place in concert halls, pubs, hospices and family kitchens across as part of annual people’s festival To Absent Friends.
The event organisers have lots of ideas to inspire your own event, as well as details of activities taking place during what’s becoming known as Scotland’s Festival of the Dead, in 2018.
From memory-box making to suppers, film, music and performance poetry, events also include the making of a photo-mural of memories, which will become a permanent installation at the Highland Hospice in Inverness.
Organisers say To Absent Friends gives people the chance to rekindle old traditions of remembrance and storytelling, to celebrate and reminisce about people we love who have died.
A host of Day of the Dead activities are lined up for families at Southampton venue The Brook on October 28, with altar collage-making, music and face painting – all celebrating the traditional Mexican way of honouring loved ones.
It is among a fortnight of events and activities taking place in and around Southampton as part of its Dead Good Days festival, running until November 17. It’s a death-positive festival with a programme featuring arts, music, philosophy and talks, all centered around addressing ‘the elephant in the room’ – our own mortality.
A week-long photographic exhibition from October 29 is one of three Day of the Dead events taking place at Sheffield Institute of Arts, featuring portraits of members of South Yorkshire’s Latin American community wearing traditional Dia de los Muertos costumes.
On November 1 at the SIA Gallery, poet Carolyn Waudby will be performing poetry and songs to mark Mexican Day of the Dead, inspired by the life of Frida Kahlo. Leeds-based Latin-American folk music performers Mestisa will be providing musical accompaniment.
A Day of the Dead altar created by members of the Sheffield’s Latin community, will also be displayed at the gallery between October 29 and November 3, and there will also be a memorial tree. Visitors can add miniature portraits of loved ones who have died, and messages to them, in keeping with Mexican Day of the Dead tradition.
London is marking 31 days of the dead in October, with a month-long calendar of events being held at venues in and around the city’s “magnificent seven” Victorian cemeteries.
There are talks, workshops, torchlit tours and shows exploring death, funeral rites, secrets of the mortuary, death masks and more, with a taboo-breaking death cafe opening up the conversation. Most events are ticketed, with dates, details and prices here.
Westward Ho’s family-friendly Day of the Dead procession on October 20 will begin with a film screened on the village green, which explores why remembering people that we loved can be a happy time of celebration.
The event organisers say Day Of The Dead is a time to celebrate life and to remember our ancestors with love and pride. You are warmly invited to dress in your best calavera costume and facepaint, to take part in the carnival-style procession.
There’ll be music, performers, pinatas and food stalls, as part of this celebration of life parade, which rounds of with a fireworks display.
Picture: Drew Hays on Unsplash
Billed as an authentic Mexican Dia de los Muertos experience, this family Day of the Dead event at Newcastle venue Kommunity on November 4 has a host of activities and workshops in store.
Take part in making cempasúchil (marigold) flowers out of paper to decorate an Altar de Muertos, as well as craft traditional decorations, cookies and candy skulls.
Mexican-style games include Loteria – which is similar to Bingo – and there’ll be Piñata breaking for adults and kids. This event is ticketed, with prices and booking details here.
Penryhn Castle’s Great Hall is the venue for a Welsh-language puppet show about – Dygwyl y Meirw – the Festival of the Dead, taking place from October 29 to 31.
These family-friendly performances, suitable for children aged seven and up, explore the ancient Celtic tradition of honouring people who have died, at this time of year. If you don’t speak Welsh – you’re promised to enjoy the show and be carried along by its visual imagery as the story unfolds.
This event is ticketed and booking ahead is advised.
Basingstoke’s Day of the Dead is being held at the town’s Proteus Theatre on October 26 and is a family-friendly ticketed event.
With a focus on activities for kids aged three to 11, there’ll be sugar skull decorating, flower garland crafting, facepainting and the chance to watch two child-friendly animated films that reflect the spirit of the festival.
This event winds up with a disco for youngsters, before the venue hosts its second Day of the Dead event – a costumed Dia de Los Muertos cabaret to which over-18s are invited to come dressed for the occasion.
With a focus on culture and traditions from around the world, young visitors will discover how remembering people who have died can be a colourful and lively occasion on Day of the Dead.
There’ll be the opportunity to discover more about the decorations, music and cheerful ways people honour the spirit of people they loved, at the World Museum’s free drop-in Day of the Dead activity event, on November 4.
- Discover more about the history and traditions of Mexican Day of the Dead.