Dia de los Muertos Celebrations in San Diego

dia de los muertos in san diegoDia de los Muertos, or “Day of the Dead,” is one of the most important holidays in Mexico and a highly anticipated holiday even in the United States. Celebrations take place over the entire weekend (October 31 – November 2) and consist of a variety of activities to honor the deceased: many build private altars called ofrendas and decorate sugar skulls. Families will often bring those along with marigolds and the favorite foods and beverages to the graves of their loved ones as gifts. Here are ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in San Diego!

Old Town San Diego

When: Saturday Oct 31 – Monday Nov 2
Where: Old Town San Diego Historic State Park
Cost: Free

This year the Old Town Dia de los Muertos celebrations will be split up into 8 different “zones” that are spread out throughout the area. Various activities will be happening in each zone on each day of the weekend. Here are some of the main activities.
San Diego Avenue Street Fair: Saturday Oct 31 & Sunday Nov 1, 9am-5pm. Enjoy face painting, sugar skull decorating, shops, galleries, museums, and restaurants where many will be offering traditional entertainment, art shows, crafts, sugar skull face painting, and/or special menus and drinks.
Tour of Altars: Various times all three days. Visit more than 40 altars of remembrance throughout Old Town, both traditional and contemporary. There will also be a large public altar where visitors are encouraged to participate by adding their own photos and memorabilia.
Old Town Market: Saturday Oct 31 at Old Town State Historic Park. Guided altar tours will begin here, and visitors can also enjoy storytelling on the green, complimentary Mexican hot chocolate and apple cider, and a stroll through the chalk cemetary and performances by the Cygnet Theatre.  
Candlelight Procession: Monday November 2, 4pm-6pm. Participants can purchase electronic candles at several locations, as seen on the map. The procession symbolizes community unity and will proceed from the state park to El Campo Santo cemetery.

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Sherman Heights Dia de los Muertos

The Sherman Heights community organizes one of the oldest and most historic Dia de los Muertos experiences in San Diego! Embrace Mexican culture and experience a traditional celebration through various events on the Dia de los Muertos Weekend. Check out Sherman Heights’ full listing of events:

Muertos Festival
When: Saturday Oct 31, 10am-6pm
Where: 2258 Island Avenue, San Diego 92102
What: This family-friendly, fun-filled day starts off with an official blessing of the community altars, followed by live performances, food, shopping, altar tours, and Day of the Dead-themed workshops! Experience Dia de los Muertos like never before at Sherman Heights!

Desayuno con Los Muertos/Community Breakfast
Monday Nov 2, 9am-11am
Sherman Heights Community Center; 2258 Island Ave, San Diego 92102
What: Guests are invited to a community breaksfast in memory of those who have passed away. Menu includes: Menudo, Tamales, Champurrado, Aguas Frescas, Café de Olla, Pan de Muertos. Our Dia de los Muertos Tiendita (Market) will be open from 9:00 AM to 7:00 PM where you can expect to find traditional items needed to build your very own Day of the Dead altar at home.

Candlelight Procession from SHCC
When: Monday Nov 2, 6pm
Where: Sherman Heights Community Center; 2258 Island Ave, San Diego 92102
What: Participate in the Annual Muertos Candlelight Procession from the Sherman Heights Community Center to the Historic Chicano Park in Barrio Logan. Guests are encouraged to bring a candle and/or pictures of departed loved ones as we march in their memory. Dia de los Muertos facepainting and/or costumes highly encouraged!

Outdoor/Indoor Altar Tours
Sat Oct 31 – Mon Nov 2, there will be more than 25 outdoor altars set up throughout the historic district of Sherman Heights as well as indoor altars at the Sherman Heights Community Centers. Free tours will take place between 10am and 7pm at various times. See map on their website for exact locations.

dia de los muertos in san diego

Fallbrook Dia de los Muertos

When: Sunday Nov 1, 10am-7pm
Where: Masonic Cemetary; 1177 Santa Margarita Drive, Fallbrook 92028
What: The Masonic Cemetery Association and The Historical Society have joined forces to bring you the annual Dia de los Muertos Celebration of Life! Build a community altar for a loved one; decorate a small square along the Memory Path with a special message to your deceased loved one; let the little ones participate in a wide variety of children’s activities; enjoy traditional food like tamales, churros, aguas frescas, elotes, Pan de Muerto, and more; listen to live music; and learn about the history through outdoor exhibits and art; and explore a bunch of different jewelry and craft vendors.

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Encinitas Dia de los Muertos

When: Sunday Nov 1, 1pm-5pm
Where: Encinitas Community Center; 1140 Oakcrest Park Dr., Encinitas 92024
What: Honor the memory of a loved one or friend by contributing a photo or a non-valuable remembrance to the altar on November 1 at the Community Center and November 1-4 at the Encinitas Library (540 Cornish Drive). Enjoy live mariachi and dance performances throughout the afternoon, various workshops (decorating sugar skulls, face painting, tissue paper flowers), watch artist demonstrations, and delicious fare from several local food trucks.

La Vista Dia de los Muertos

When: Sunday Nov 1, noon-10pm
Where: La Vista Memorial Park & Mortuary; 3191 Orange Street, National City 91950
What: In what has become perhaps the largest and most “spirited” celebration inside cemetery grounds of the traditional Latin American holiday in the San Diego area, the independently owned and operated community cemetery will provide an all-day extravaganza of music, art folk dancing, and other entertainment, along with a variety of vendors offering food and hand crafted gift items for sale.

California Center of the Arts Dia de los Muertos

When: Sunday Nov 1, 6pm-9pm
Where: California Center for the Arts; 340 N Escondido Blvd., Escondido 92025
What: This year is the Center’s 20th annual Day of the Dead Festival! Each year, guests are invited to create altars to remember and honor their loved ones in a special area outside of the Center’s museum. While these altars are the focus of the festival, the event also features live music, traditional Mexican fare, sugar skull decorating, and other celebratory activities. Additionally, the Center’s Museum exhibition, Re-Membering Our Ancestors Discovering Ourselves, will be free and open to the public for the duration of the Festival.

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Emily Ruchlewicz

Emily Ruchlewicz

News & Feature Writer at http://www.lajollabluebook.com/
Emily Ruchlewicz is a News and Feature writer at Blue Book Publishers and has written more than 100 La Jolla-related articles. Follow her blogs to stay informed about new businesses, read exclusive interviews with local business owners, and keep up with community events. (emily@lajollabluebook.com)

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