Top Things to Do in San Diego: Oct. 30 – Nov. 3, 2013

Halloween week means lots of spooky events around San Diego, but there’s more happening this week than just parading ghosts and goblins. The traditions of Mexico at Dia de los Muertos celebrations, zombies walking at a local theater, and  some post-Halloween fun at a local street fair are all part of the top things to do in San Diego, Oct. 30 – Nov. 3:

Carlsbad Fall Village Faire

Carlsbad Village Faire San Diego 2013

Families will find plenty to do at the Carlsbad Village Faire

Checking out street festivals when you travel to a new city provides real insight on the town, the people, and the local culture.  From downtown San Diego, take the family on a scenic Coaster ride headed north to discover why the nation’s largest single day street fair takes place in this beautiful seaside community.

Where: Grand Ave (between Carlsbad Blvd & Jefferson St) Carlsbad, CA 92008
When: Sunday, November 3, 2013
Time: 8:00 am – 4:00 pm
Cost: Free
>Find our more about the Carlsbad Fall Village Faire

Plancha Baja Med Halloween Pop-Up Dinner

plancha baja med chad white pop up halloween dinner at frauds and swindlers 2013 san diego

Sample Chef Chad White Baja-Med cuisine at a special pop-up dinner

Local chef Chad White from Plancha Baja Med takes over downtown’s Frauds & Swindlers cocktail lounge for an evening of delectable cuisine and libations. The “black & white” themed menu features creative dishes like oyster-coconut cream soup and ash-cured pork belly. The evening also features a costume contest, live music and dancing into the wee hours.

Where: 820 5th Ave., San Diego, CA 92101
When: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Time: 7:00 – 10:00 pm
Cost: $70 per person
>See the complete dinner menu

Spooky Silent Films


Teeny Tiny Orchestra Silent Horror Movies on Halloween UCSD Geisel Library San Diego 2013

Scott Paulson’s Teeny Tiny Orchestra

If modern horror films with all the blood and guts aren’t your thing, check out The Teeny-Tiny Pit Orchestra’s presentation of Horror on Halloween. The event features scary silent films paired with live music and sounds. Audience participation in creating the creepy film scores is encouraged (have you ever tried to play a Theremin?).

Where: 9500 Gilman Dr. (Seuss Room at the Geisel Library, UCSD), La Jolla, CA 92093
When: Thursday, October 31, 2013
Time: 7:00 pm
Cost: Free
>Find out more about Horror on Halloween

Dia de Los Muertos at Fiesta de Reyes

Dia de los Muertos day of the dead Old Town San Diego 2013

The processional begins at the 2012 Dia de los Muertos celebration in Old Town San Diego

As a part of the Old Town San Diego’s Día de los Muertos celebration, Fiesta de Reyes and Old Town San Diego State Historic Park will celebrate the Day of the Dead with live music, folklorico dancing, face painting, crafts for children and a tour of more than 15 altars on Nov. 1 to 3. Visitors won’t be disappointed by the extensive Day of the Dead display at Fiesta de Reyes and the special-themed menu at Casa de Reyes and Barra Barra Saloon.

Where: 2754 Calhoun St  San Diego, CA 92110
When: Nov. 1 – 3, 2013
Time: 1:00 – 9:00 p.m.
Cost: Free
>Find out more about Dia de los Muertos in Old Town San Diego

Día de los Muertos – Honoring Mexico’s Singers & Composers

san diego symphony day of the dead 2013

Dia de los Muertos in music at the San Diego Symphony

The San Diego Symphony hosts an evening honoring the music of some of Mexico’s most beloved singers and composers during a celebration of Día de los Muertos, Mexico’s colorful and magical tradition. San Diego favorite Mónica  Ábrego, Metropolitan opera veteran  José Luis Duval and one of the most famous mariachi musicians in the world, Rafael Palomar take the stage to perform passionate and exciting music.  With world-class singers and world-class mariachi, don’t miss this classic take on a cross border tradition.

Where: 750 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
When: Friday, November 1, 2013
Time: 8 p.m.
Cost: $20 – $85
>Find out more about Dia de los Muertos at the San Diego Symphony

Technomania Circus: Dia de los Zombies

Zombie show at Technomania Circus San Diego 2013

There’s no telling what crazy antics you’ll encounter at the Technomania Circus

Held in a spooky former church, Technomania Circus presents ‘Dia de los Zombies’ on Friday and Saturday Nov. 1 & 2. Seek shelter from wandering zombies on the Day of the Dead in this spooky ex-church and be amused by circus performers of the live and undead variety while you await your inevitable fate.

Where: 2558 Imperial Ave, San Diego, CA 92102
When: Friday, November 1 & Saturday, November 2, 2013
Time: 9:00 p.m.
Cost: $10
>Find out more about the Dia de los Zombies

Need even more ideas for what to do in San Diego? Browse the San Diego Event Calendar


Sugar Skulls and Marigolds: Celebrating Day of the Dead in Old Town San Diego – November 1-2, 2012

Day Of the Dead - Catrinas
Day Of the Dead - Catrinas

Catrinas dressed in their finest at Fiesta de Reyes

Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), one of Mexico’s most revered and festive holidays, returns to Old Town San Diego on November 1 and 2, 2012, in all of its marigold-lined, sugar skull-adorned, candlelit glory. Old Town San Diego, with its deeply rooted, multi-cultural heritage, provides an ideal backdrop for Dia de los Muertos, which honors and celebrates ancestors and deceased loved ones through music, dance, craft activities and special menus. This community-wide commemoration involves the numerous museums, shops, hotels and restaurants throughout Old Town and is designed for all ages.

Below are just a few highlights of San Diego’s Dia de los Muertos that will certainly make your holiday a memorable one:

Day of the Dead Tour of the Altars

Day of the Dead Alters

Bright and Festive Whaley House Alter. Photo courtesy of Sandé Lollis.

Paths lined with brilliant orange marigolds guide spirits of relatives and friends “home” where alters are prepared with a sampling of their favorite food and drink, photos, mementos and the famous sugar skulls. Follow the free Tour of the Alters map through Old Town to view over 50 personalized alters, some honoring Old Town’s historic figures, being displayed in museums, shops hotels and restaurants such as the Whaley House Museum, Bazaar del Mundo, Cosmopolitan Hotel and Restaurant and Café Coyote.

Day of the Dead Craft Activities

Day of the Dead Crafts

Decorating sugar skulls in the beautiful San Diego fall weather. Photo courtesy of Sandé Lollis.

Participate in various workshops dedicated to Day of the Dead artistry.  Decorate your own sugar skull and learn to make Papel Picado, Mexican Paper Flowers, or Floral headbands in the Whaley House Museum courtyard while listening to free musical performances. Check out the Day of the Dead art show, Saints, Souls, & Style at Bazaar del Mundo and watch Day of the Dead performers at Fiesta de Reyes. Many establishments offer sugar skull face painting at certain times of the day. Check program for full details. All activities are free or include a nominal fee in order to cover craft materials.

Day of the Dead Processional

On Friday, November 2, 2012 at 6:00 PM, gather at the Old Town San Diego State Historic Park plaza to take part in a lively candlelight processional down San Diego Avenue to El Campo Cemetery. Free candles will be available at participating businesses and guests are encouraged to sing along with the “Calaveras” processional song (video above). Once inside the cemetery, feel free to leave photographs, messages, flowers or tokens of affection for your own loved ones on the community altar.

Drink and Restaurant Specials

Skullrita and Camarones Inferno - Cafe Coyote

The Skullrita and Camarones Infierno at Cafe Coyote.

Old Town restaurants will create Dia de los Muertos menu and  drink specials for the occasion. Café Coyote, the main title sponsor of Old Town’s Dia de los Muertos, has a celebration menu available now through November 2, which includes traditional holiday fare such as turkey mole enchiladas, tamales de rajas y pollo, and firey Camearones Infierno. Drink offerings include specials such as the “Skullrita,” made with corporate sponsor Azunia Tequila, Cointreau, fresh orange juice, lime juice and a splash of pomegranate, and Mexican Spiked Hot Chocolate. For the alcohol free, complimentary Mexican hot chocolate will be available at Café Coyote’s candy store, November 1-2, 5:00 to 8:00 PM. Other Old Town dining favorites include Casa Guadalajara and Fiesta de Reyes.

Old Town San Diego’s Day of the Dead Information:

Information booths will be set up at the north and south ends of Old Town, at the Whaley House Museum, and Old Town Market. Commemorative sales will be held in the Whaley House Museum. Questions regarding transportation and parking is available here.

Date: November 1-2, 2012
Time: November 1, 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM, November 2, 11:00 AM to 8:00 PM
Address: 2476 San Diego Avenue, San Diego, CA 92110
Phone: 619.297.9327