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