Understandably, the idea of celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico can be a little intimidating. It’s a country and a culture different from your own – what if you do it wrong? Because yes, there most definitely is a right way and a wrong way to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico.
But don’t let your intimidation hold you back from experiencing this amazingly beautiful and meaningful holiday. Instead, take a look at the following tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico as a foreigner so you can be as prepared as possible!
Celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico (as a foreigner)
Even if you’ve visited Mexico before, doing so during the month of October (and first part of November) is an entirely unique experience. There are parades and festivals, flowers and colorful decorations galore, and an indescribable energy you feel everywhere you go. And you’ll ache to be a part of it.
Luckily, from what I’ve learned and experienced personally, the local communities are quite welcoming to curious outsiders like you and me. (The kindness of the locals is one of the things that most shocked me in Mexico!) You’ll quickly learn that Day of the Dead isn’t something you witness when you travel to Mexico; it’s something you, too, will participate in. Just follow these rules and you’ll have nothing but an unforgettable time.
1. Learn what Día de los Muertos is
The first thing you must do if you’ll be celebrating Día de los Muertos in Mexico is to learn what exactly the holiday even is.
For starters, Día de los Muertos translates to Day of the Dead—in case that wasn’t clear. You’ll often see it referred to in Mexico as simply Día de Muertos, but all three terms are used interchangeably.
Day of the Dead in Mexico is:
- Annual holiday celebrated in Mexico and some surrounding regions
- Celebrated on November 1st and 2nd (with some lead-in celebrations as well). Yes, they should call it Days of the Dead, but that’s an argument for another día.
- Centers around remembering and honoring your loved ones who have passed
- Emphasizes a positive relationship with death – (I mean, we’re all going to die at some point; I feel like being on death’s good side is just a smart idea).
Day of the Dead in Mexico includes:
- Creating an ofrenda in the home
- Cleaning and decorating the gravesites of your loved ones
- Celebrating their lives through playing music, dancing, and telling their favorite stories (or, at least, your favorite stories of them. Yes, some things you hope will just die with you but, nope, your friends and family forget nothing!)
Day of the Dead ofrendas
Celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico revolves around the creation of an ofrenda in one’s home. An ofrenda is a special altar set up for remembering lost loved ones. They can be small or they can be incredibly, massively huge.
Ofrendas are decorated with:
- Marigolds (the official flower sponsor of celebrating Day of the Dead)
- Sugar skulls (also known as Calaveras)
- Tissue paper banners called papel picado
- Your loved ones’ favorite foods and drinks
- Their favorite toys, if the deceased is a child.
- Photos of the deceased. (We’re not letting just any ol’ spirits in here!)
The belief is that, during these couple of days, your loved ones come back to visit, hang out, eat their favorite snacks, and drink the tequila you left them. It’s called “being the afterlife of the party”, duh. And this all takes place around the ofrenda.
2. Understand the meaning of each day
Celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico is a multi-day affair, and each of those days/nights has its own special meaning.
Day of the Dead is most widely (“officially”) celebrated on November 1st and 2nd each year. However, the nights leading up to this also hold special meaning for certain celebrants. Here are the Days of the Dead and what each of them commemorate:
- October 27 – In recent years, October 27th has become the day on which people honor the spirits of their deceased pets. Don’t forget their favorite food, treats, and toys on your ofrenda. And now I’m crying.
- October 28 – Día de los Accidentados, honors the spirits of those who died from violence, suicide, or accidents.
- October 29 – Honors the “forgotten souls”, the spirits of those who no longer have anyone to remember them.
- October 30 & 31 – Día de Los Angelitos, honors the spirits of children (“little angels”) who have passed away. This includes those who died before birth and those who were not baptized.
- November 1 – Día de los Difuntos, honors the spirits of adults who have passed.
- November 2 – Día de los Muertos, honors the spirits of all who have died and when the largest public celebrations take place.
These commemorations are deeply personal and can take place at night on the night before, overnight, or on the day itself. There are no official rules; each family can celebrate how they wish. Different geographical regions also have their own daily traditions.
Even though Day of the Dead technically takes place on just a couple days, much like every holiday here in the U.S. you can expect to see Day of the Dead decorations and celebrations taking place throughout the entire month of October.
3. Know what Day of the Dead in Mexico is not
Just as important as knowing what celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico is, is knowing what it is not. Scratch that–this is actually more important.
Day of the Dead in Mexico is not:
- “Mexican” Halloween
- A scary, gory, violent, or otherwise haunting occasion
- A spectacle put on for tourists’ benefit
Just because Day of the Dead in Mexico takes place around the same time as Halloween doesn’t mean there’s any connection to it. In fact, it’s pretty much the opposite. The anti-Halloween, if you will. Allow me to elaborate on some of these…
Besides, Day of the Dead used to take place in the summer until the Christians showed up with their plans for efficiency and combined holidays since they’re both related to death. Because of course they did.
4. Understand that Day of the Dead is not Halloween
Where Halloween is a “holiday” marked by things like scary costumes, horror movies, bats, spiders, zombies, chainsaw murderers, scary twins, hockey masks, and cackling witches, Day of the Dead is the opposite.
It’s not scary or spooky; it won’t give you nightmares until you turn age… nope, still terrified. (Why, oh why, did I ever watch The Shining?) There won’t be any trick-or-treating or pumpkin carving; no haunted houses or ghost stories. Just get that as far out of your mind as possible.
Day of the Dead is not “Mexican” Halloween either
Not only is Day of the Dead not Halloween, it’s also not the “Mexican version” of Halloween either. Instead, Day of the Dead is a joyous holiday bursting with bright colors, flowers, delicious foods, funny stories and getting to spend time with your loved ones who’ve passed—in the least creepy way possible, promise.
There are graveyards, but they aren’t haunted. Here, these are places of beauty and celebration, of life, light, and laughter. There are skeletons, but they’re not out to get you. They’re here to keep the memories of your loved ones alive, to make you laugh, to comfort you with their presence.
If you’ll be celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico, be sure to leave all your associations with Halloween back home. Other than the time of year, the two holidays couldn’t be more unalike.
5. Don’t treat Day of the Dead in Mexico like a tourist attraction
I can’t emphasize this enough: Day of the Dead in Mexico is not a spectacle put on for the benefit of tourists. Though it is one of the most visually gorgeous celebrations you’ll ever witness, they are not putting on a show for you or Instagram. Please remember this.
At its roots, Día de los Muertos is a deeply personal holiday. And though whole communities and individual households will invite you in without question, it is not to be treated like a tourist attraction. This is the real deal, not a Disney cruise. (Although, the release of Coco probably did muddy the waters a little bit here.)
The people you’ll meet aren’t actors and the places you’ll go aren’t sets. These are real people reliving some of their hardest times. The occasion is full of joy, yes, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of grief. They don’t invite you into their towns/homes/cemeteries so you can snap your photos and go; they invite you in to share their stories, memories, and creations.
What I’m saying is… don’t just come to Mexico to gawk and take pictures for likes. Instead, get in there. Learn what it’s all about, get involved, be a part of it. Listen to their stories, accept their offerings, and always remember to show your gratitude.
6. Don’t leave home without watching the movie Coco
While preparing for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico, take a lesson from your high school self and just skip to watching the movie. You did it for Great Expectations, and you can do it here too.
The Disney Pixar film Coco that came out in 2017 is all about celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico and is a phenomenal movie all-around. It won a Golden Globe and a couple of Oscars (ho-hum), features an all-Latinx cast, and is probably the best introduction to Day of the Dead you’ll find anywhere.
You can learn all you need to know about this enchanting holiday in just an hour and forty-five minutes and all in an easy-to-absorb fashion because this is a kids movie, amigos. Nothing too complex here. There are songs, adorable sidekicks, and Frida Kahlo is there. Really, it’s a hoot.
This movie came out right after I returned from celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico, but now you have the advantage of watching it before your trip, which I highly recommend. You can stream it on Disney+ or watch it here on Amazon.
7. Dress the part while celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico
And when I say to get involved and actually be a part of the celebrations, one thing I’m referring to is: don’t be afraid to dress the part while celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico.
I will almost always push “joining in.” Isn’t it better to fully take part in something rather than just casually observe from the outside? (Well, zombie massacres aside.) Day of the Dead is no different. If you want to learn about the holiday and really experience it, you have to go all in.
Dressing up for Day of the Dead in super easy and really fun. You probably have most of the stuff in your closet already, and what you don’t won’t set you back much.
I won’t go into all the details here on how to dress for Day of the Dead, because I have a whole post about it. Everything you need to know (for both women and men) can be found in that link. You’ll learn exactly what to wear and where to buy it, the significance behind your image, a simply DIY project, and more.
8. Always be respectful when celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico
One of the most important tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico is to always be respectful. Always keep in mind that this occasion is a personal and intimate celebration and should be treated as such, especially as a visitor in a foreign country, experiencing a foreign culture.
Dressing up and joining in the festivities is a great way to learn about culture’s other than your own. However, there are a couple of huge no-nos:
Don’t wear a costume
As I explain in my post on what to wear for Day of the Dead, the easiest way to offend the locals and stand out as an ignorant tourist is to wear a “costume” based on their culture. Y’all… I just can’t deal with how ridiculous this practice is and how clueless people must be to not see how offensive this stuff is.
Follow the recommendations, put together your own look, and skip the all-in-one plastic bag deals from the party store. (Like this monstrosity.) You’d be less offensive wearing the actual plastic bag.
Don’t be a hoochie
I get it–you want to look good on Insta. But don’t you realize that looking respectful and tuned-in is the new sexy? Remember where you are (a cemetery, a church, inside a family’s home) and what this holiday is about (death, grieving, remembering loved ones). None of those are sexy things! Stay away from “sexy” costumes like this one.
That being said, if you are indeed channeling a loved one who, say, dressed like that, then by all means! Again, how each person celebrates this holiday is deeply individual, and you’re allowed to grieve in your own way. As long as you’re doing it for the right reasons (and not because you want the attention or photos).
Don’t be scary
Day. Of. The. Dead. Is. Not. Halloween. Paint your face like a skull, yes. Don’t paint your face like a blood-thirsty vampire or a brain-hungry zombie or anything else that will keep me awake at night cursing my friend’s mother for ever letting us watch Friday the 13th when we were 10 years old.
Día de los Muertos is a happy occasion when it’s believed that our loved ones come back to hang out with us. Even if it’s your drunken Aunt Sally who knows nothing of personal space, it’s still seen as a joyous event. To associate celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico at all with celebrating Halloween is just plain ignorant.
Let the people remember their loved ones with joy and laughter; don’t walk around insinuating that dead people are all murderous, flesh-eating corpses.
9. Get your face painted by local artists
More on that here. Yes, you can bring your own makeup, and as someone with allergies I would totally understand if you did. But getting your face painted by local artists is a great way to really feel like a participant.
Plus, you’re supporting the local economy and making friends along the way. Plus again, this will save you tons of time if you absolutely suck at putting makeup on like I do.
Head to the town’s main plazas and you’ll find several faint painters waiting to take on new clients. They’ll have a bunch of printed pictures with designs for you to choose from, or bring your own if you have something specific in mind.
10. Bring a disposable cloth to clean your face
This being on the list of tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico is 100% no joke. Hands up if you’ve had your face painted in the last 20 years. Put your hands down, mimes. Put your hand down, drunk guy at a college football game. That leaves the rest of us, totally forgetting how serious face paint is.
I somehow knew this was going to be a chore so I brought my own washcloth from home to do the job “gentle facial cleanser” couldn’t.
Getting your face painted is a big part of your Day of the Dead image but you’ll need to scrub it off later. And this is no job for your fancy-schmancy makeup remover wipes. Especially when there’s glitter involved. *jazz hands*
And please, please, please, don’t use your hotel’s towels—that’s just bad behavior. Bring something from home you’re fine with tossing in the trash afterwards.
11. Eat pan de muerto
And by “eat pan de muerto” I mean: devour boat-loads of the stuff. And then eat some more.
Pan de Muerto (yes, “death bread,” rock on) is a fluffy sweet bread traditionally consumed during Day of the Dead season. But that doesn’t mean you won’t crave it every day of the year for the rest of your life. Its deliciousness is its curse.
Pan de Muerto is a round bun with dough strips across the top meant to resemble bones. The light, fluffy bread is simple and sweet, sometimes with a slight orange or lemon flavor, and covered in sugar. (As all the best foods are, no?) It’s eaten in the days leading up to Día de los Muertos and is also typically found on ofrendas. (Its “bones” represent the deceased).
You can find pan de muerto all over when spending Day of the Dead in Mexico: at local bakeries and cafés, in the markets, being shoved by the fistful into my own mouth, etc. Each is as unique as the person who baked it and I most definitely have a favorite.
I tried pan de muerto from a number of places while visiting Mexico and the best I had, by far, was at Malande, a small café in the Condesa neighborhood of Mexico City. Go here!
12. Expect to still see kids asking for candy
Day of the Dead in Mexico is not Halloween—we know this. But that fact doesn’t stop children from asking for candy around Mexico City.
Admittedly, when a group of dressed-up children approached the café I was in to ask for candy, I was shocked. (Mostly because, how dare they interrupt me while I’m eating breakfast! < Okay, maybe there are some witches to be found here and there.) It was November 1st and most of them were dressed as La Catrina/El Catrín—not Halloween costumes.
Why this happens
What started out as a tradition of children going out to gather food and sugar skulls (calaveritas) for their family’s Día de los Muertos ofrendas has morphed into something else that’s a lil this and a lil that.
They’re supposed to sing a song but I was too busy feeling guilty that I didn’t bring a bag of fun-sized Kit Kats to Mexico with me to even notice if there was a song or not. But I’m guessing there wasn’t.
I think children mainly visit businesses and storefronts, but I was asked for candy in other random, truly horrifying places—through the open window of my Uber in the middle of an intersection at a red light, for example.
I guess something important I should add to the list of tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico: bring candy!
13. Don’t miss the most impressive ofrenda at Casa Azul
If you’re looking for things to do in Mexico City during the time leading up to Día de los Muertos, you can’t miss the ofrenda at Casa Azul—the former home-turned-museum of Frida Kahlo.
Surely you know who Frida is (right!?) so I won’t go into an explanation, but the ofrenda set up in her memory is the most impressive I’ve ever seen. But, really, of course it is–it’s Frida! I would expect nothing less. The only thing that could’ve made it better: more monkeys and everything lit on fire!!!! (see: Coco)
Also check out: 15 Essential Mexico City Experiences for the Best Trip Ever
14. Check out all the festivities in Mexico City if you’re there
Day of the Dead in Mexico is really the small town’s poster child holiday but there are still ways to experience it if you don’t have plans to leave Mexico City.
Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade
There’s now a massive Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, à la James Bond’s Spectre. A parade of such magnitude as seen in the movie did not previously exist; they fabricated it solely for the movie. So of course tourists started flocking to Mexico City to see this spectacle and were pissed when they found out it didn’t exist. (However, not pissed at their own lack of research, astoundingly.)
Because of this, they’ve since started putting on a huge Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City. The dates and times of the parade aren’t set in stone, so do adequate research before heading to CDMX. The parade could take place as early as a week or so before (or after) official Día de los Muertos.
In 2023, Mexico City’s grand Day of the Dead parade will take place on November 4.
La Catrina Fest
Another popular event is La Catrina Fest—a festival of Mexican art, traditions, cuisine, and cultural pride to promote cultural tourism. This festival looks AMAZING and I’m definitely timing my next trip to coincide with it. Check out their Facebook page here for details.
Other Mexico City Day of the Dead events
There are a ton more Day of the Dead events in Mexico City, and that link will take you to the full list of them. Some examples are:
- A lakefront opera and night tours of the canals at Xochimilco
- A flower festival
- Bike rides and memorial runs
- Coco movie screenings with live orchestras and famous guests (I’m there!)
- Mezcal Fest, Day of the Dead edition
- A Pan de Muerto/chocolate festival (be still, my sugar-addicted heart!)
- A calavera art experience
- and many more
Also check out: What to Pack for Mexico City (and What to Just Buy There)
Where else in Mexico City to celebrate
Elaborate celebrations aside, Mexico City is still a great place to check out some smaller neighborhoods’ displays and festivities. Coyoacán (where Casa Azul is located) is a popular area but my personal favorite is the neighborhood of San Angel, just south of the city.
San Angel is home to some great markets, large public Day of the Dead displays, a Saturday bazaar, delicious food stalls, and a fabulous little museum that charges admission unless you are clearly a non-native Spanish speaker and it would be easier to just wave you on through.
Also while in Mexico City, eat pan de muerto at Malande. Have I ingrained it in your memory yet? And if you like tours, there’s even a Day of the Dead tour in Mexico City that features a nighttime ride through the canals of Xochimilco.
Where to stay for Day of the Dead in Mexico City
While celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico City, you have a number of different neighborhoods to choose from as far as where to stay. My personal favorites are the beautiful tree-lined neighborhoods of Roma and Condesa. Here are some fantastic hotel options:
- Casa Decu (Condesa): Beautiful property, rooftop terrace, perfect location!
- ULIV Roma Norte (Roma): Apartment-style rooms, tons of outdoor space, great location
- Gran Hotel Ciudad de Mexico (historic center): Gorgeous 5-star hotel seen in James Bond’s Spectre and my other blog posts because I always come here for drinks when I visit Mexico City.
Also check out: 3 Days in Mexico City: 13+ Dos, Don’ts, and Tips for Your Trip
15. Get out of Mexico City for a more intimate Day of the Dead experience
Celebrating in Mexico City is great, but among my tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico is to get yourself to a smaller town. Day of the Dead in Mexico, being the intimate holiday that it is, is essentially a celebration for small towns and tight-knit communities.
While there are events taking place in the huge metropolis of Mexico City, it’s out in the smaller towns where you’ll find the model Día de los Muertos experience. Here, you’ll be able to stroll the streets and visit local cemeteries, get invited into people’s homes (it’s weird at first but you’ll get used to it), take part in small parades and festivities, and shop local markets.
Day of the Dead in Oaxaca
Personally, I left Mexico City and took the ADO bus down to Oaxaca City and had an amazing experience that I’d recommend to anyone. Actually, that’s what I’m doing here. That’s what blogs are for.
Oaxaca is a great Day of the Dead experience for first-timers as its residents are considerably welcoming to visitors. The city is accessible and there’s plenty to see and do to keep you busy.
Oaxaca Day of the Dead tour
If you know you’ll be celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico but don’t really want to figure it all out on your own, definitely consider booking a Day of the Dead tour.
This Guided Day of the Dead Walking Tour in Oaxaca is a full experience that includes stops in the local cemetery, the local cathedral, and time in one of the more colorful neighborhoods. It also includes dinner and is all led by your own professional tour guide.
Where to stay for Day of the Dead in Oaxaca
If you’re planning to celebrate Day of the Dead in Oaxaca, check out these hotel options:
- Hotel Anua – This is where I stayed and it was great. Perfect location, comfortable rooms, friendly staff, and affordable (even on the most popular night of the year).
- Boulenc Bed and Bread – Adorable property, “Superb” rating by reviewers, exceptional breakfast included.
- Pug Seal Oaxaca – Weird name, charming property. I’d call it “rustic luxury” if I had to describe it. Super reviews, breakfast included, friendly and attentive staff.
Some other great, small towns in which to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico include:
Day of the Dead in Mixquic
A small town that’s technically part of Mexico City (CDMX is the world’s 7th largest city by the way, so there’s a lot of parts to it, technically). Said to have one of the mot beautifully decorated cemeteries during this time.
Day of the Dead in Aguascalientes
Aguascalientes is about 5 hours north of Mexico City and is the birthplace of Jose Guadalupe Posada, the artist credited with the creation of the first image of La Calavera Catrina. Their Festival de las Calaveras (Festival of Skulls) and related parade are the highlights of their Day of the Dead celebrations.
Where to stay for Day of the Dead in Aguascalientes
For your trip to Aguascalientes, check out these hotel options:
- Fiesta Inn Aguascalientes Patio – Top-rated hotel here, spacious property, restaurant on site.
- Hotel Quality Inn Aguascalientes – Super cute property, great location right in the city center, fabulous reviews.
- Fiesta Americana Aguascalientes – Beautiful property with tons of outdoor space (including a swimming pool), air conditioning, and a 24-hour front desk.
Day of the Dead in Michoacan
Specifically, the island of Janitzio in Lake Patzcuaro. Four and half hours west of Mexico City is this gorgeous small town on an island and the perfect setting for Día de los Muertos festivities.
This island is (from what the internet tells me) easily reached by boat and even the lake itself lights up at night. It sounds magical and straight out of a Disney Pixar movie, if I’m being honest.
Where to stay for Day of the Dead in Michoacan
For your trip to Michoacan, check out these hotel options:
- Hotel Boutique Casa Colorada – Absolutely stunning property, lots of lounge and terrace space, world-class service.
- NaNa Vida Hotel Morelia – Another beautiful and colorful property, exceptional reviews, excellent location.
- Maja Hotel Boutique – Stylish hotel with plush rooms, idyllic setting, fantastic service, just fabulous all around.
For all your getting around Mexico needs, check out the ADO bus system. It’s quick, affordable, reliable, and really great quality. Figuring it all out is another story though. Check out this guide to Mexico’s ADO Bus System.
16. Don’t get drunk and stupid
Next on the list of tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico as a foreigner: don’t get drunk and stupid.
Another thing Day of the Dead in Mexico is not is the autumnal version of Cinco de Drinko. While we Americans have adapted other cultures’ landmark celebrations as our own misguided drinking holidays–Cinco de Mayo and St. Patrick’s Day, for instance–Día de los Muertos is not one of those things.
The spirit of Aunt Sally can have all the tequila she wants (or, at least as much as you put out for her on your ofrenda) but stay mindful that no one wants to see you sloshed in their cemetery.
17. Pretend social media doesn’t exist
At the core of all these tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico is the reminder of what this holiday is about: respectful remembrance of lost loved ones.
Families visit cemeteries to pay respects and invite strangers into their homes to observe their ofrendas. Posing for Instagram photos at gravesites, despite how stunningly gorgeous they may be, is grotesquely inappropriate and disrespectful.
When celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico for the first time, concentrate on really feeling out what the holiday is, observing how locals celebrate, and taking it all in. It’s about their family members who have passed, not your ‘like’ count.
Day of the Dead photography rules
Taking photos is almost always totally fine but remember to be as respectful as possible by observing these guidelines:
- Always ask before taking pictures of people and inside homes
- Don’t touch anything
- Be smart about taking photos with yourself in them. Using someone’s ofrenda or grave as your backdrop is so grossly misguided I just can’t even deal. Personally, I follow the photography mantra of “when in doubt, don’t”. Well, that and “figure out what the hell to do with this photo in post-editing.”
18. Simply wander through town
If you’re wondering “what to do during Day of the Dead in Mexico” you may have trouble finding the solid answer you’re looking for. There’s rarely a set agenda as it’s more of just an overall experience. My advice: pick a town and simply wander through it.
Hit up the local markets
Shop for food and clothing items, pick up an alebrije, and/or buy some papel picado to take home for a unique souvenir. (Papel Picado is the thin colorful tissue paper banners you’ll see hanging everywhere. They represent the fragility of life so, good luck getting them home.)
Visit the cemeteries
The experience is purely ethereal.
Stroll the streets and check out the decorations
Chances are a homeowner will invite you in. “Invited” being the key word. Don’t just be walking up into people’s houses now.
Join in a comparsa
Comparsas are a Oaxacan tradition–an informal procession through town of vehicles, people in costumes, drummers, bands, dancing, etc. Maybe even an actual dead person? Read on.
Check out the mojigangas in Oaxaca
Mojigangas are giant paper maché puppets, if you will, that people walk around town. (See the example below.)
Take it all in
- Listen to music performances on the street – It gets loud.
- Check out all the Catrinas – Dressing up is cool, see I told you.
- Eat all the goodies! Pan de muerto, elotes (street corn), chapulines (fried chili lime grasshoppers), try some mezcal or pulque (drinks that no explanation will do justice to)
In a small town, it won’t be difficult to find where the action is. Follow the crowds, the fireworks, the noise, the candles, even the giant mojigangas know where it’s going down.
19. Don’t be shocked to see an actual corpse? Maybe?
While walking along with a comparsa in Oaxaca, one of the skeleton displays looked… a little too… lifelike, if it’s possible to describe a corpse with that word.
Many of the trucks had dressed up skeleton figures in their beds—most likely the likenesses of deceased loved ones, no surprise there. But one truck. One truck had what the three of us were almost certain was an actual corpse. (not pictured)
If that’s your process, by all means. I’m just saying, as far as tips for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico go, keep your expectations wiiiiiide open.
20. Don’t forget to think about your own lost loved ones
While you’re deep in face paint, marigolds, and the sweetest bread you’ll ever taste, don’t forget what’s at the core of Día de los Muertos: remembering and honoring your deceased family members and loved ones.
Don’t forget to take some time, if only internally, to remember your own. Drunk Aunt Sally must have provided plenty of anecdotes to bring on a laugh or two.
More info for celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico
- Heading to Mexico? Find awesome hotels and book your room here on Booking.com (my fave booking site)
- Need a rental car? Check out the best deals in Mexico here.
- Visiting more of Mexico? Pick up a Mexico guidebook for all your sightseeing. And be sure to pick up this Mexico customs and culture guide too!
- Keep yourself and your belongings safe in Mexico with these must-pack travel safety items.
- Like this post? Have questions? Read out Instagram
Have you ever attended a holiday celebration in another country?
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But first, pin this image: