The Six Best Locations to Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico

The Six Best Locations to Celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico

place at the beginning of November
each year, Dios de los Muertos (The Day of the Dead) is one of the
best times to visit
. Dating back generations, the holiday celebrates those
who have passed away through colourful processions, ceremonies and
parties. Locals dress up in elaborate costumes and painted masks,
and the festivities end with trips to cemeteries to commemorate
ancestors. These are some of the best places to visit to take part
in celebrations.

Celebrating Dios de los Muertos? Visit one of these Mexican


Island of Janitzio, Michoacán

Located on Lake Pátzcuaro in Michoacán state, this island has a
traditional take on Day of the Dead celebrations. Festivities begin
around 31 October
when locals take canoes out onto the lake to shoot ducks, before
preparing them as offerings to dead spirits. Spend the rest of the
day taste-testing your way through food stalls lining the island’s
streets – try poblano peppers stuffed with cheese and the pan de
muerto, a sweet bread. The next day is the Kejtzitakua Zapicheri
(meaning the “vigil of the little angels”) when locals visit the
graves of lost loved ones. Come evening, the indigenous Purépecha
people perform elaborate rituals and traditional dances around the


Xilitla, San Luis Potosí

Travel to Xilitla, a colonial town in San Luís Potosí, where
inhabitants have their own version of Day of the Dead called
Xantolo. While you’ll find all the typical hallmarks of the
festival – marigolds, street food and decorative skeletons – it’s
the huge parties in the town square, set against towering
mountains, hillside villages and bright citrus trees, that make
Xilitla stand out. Far from the tourist-centric parades often seen
in Mexico
, this style of celebration has a deep-rooted history.

Ruins of Palenque, Maya city in Chiapas, Mexico



This southern Mexican state has one of the largest indigenous
population in the country, so its age-old Dios de los Muertos
celebrations are well worth a visit. Spend days travelling to Mayan
archaeological sites and Spanish colonial towns dotted throughout
the mountainous highlands, and do make sure to visit San Cristóbal
de las Casas to see the candlelit baroque churches decorated for
the festival.

Merida, Cementerio General, Mexico



Day of the Dead celebrations are known as Hanal Pixan (meaning
“feast for the souls”) in Mexico’s Mayan regions. Celebrations are
centred around food, so spend time hopping between stalls serving
traditional dishes such as mucbipollo, a meal consisting of meat
and corn dough wrapped in banana leaves and cooked in a fire pit.
When ready, the parcel is dug up and eaten to represent the
returning of dead souls to earth. Visit Mérida to wander around
cemeteries, where rows of graves are decorated with gifts and



Day of the Dead festivities are taken very seriously in the
state of Oaxaca. Split your time between city and coastal
activities, as celebrations differ vastly between the two. Oaxaca
City is a Unesco World Heritage Site, brimming with ancient history
and architecture. Here, embark on night walks (called comparsas)
and join vigils taking place in cemeteries throughout the city,
during which tombstones are decorated with Mexican marigolds, the
so-called “flower of the dead”. On the Oaxacan coast, celebrations
are more lively. Music-filled, carnival-style processions make
their way through neighbourhoods and villages.


San Miguel de Allende

Celebrations in San Miguel de Allende come in the form of a
four-day festival called La Calaca (meaning “the skull”). Days here
are best spent exploring themed art exhibitions or admiring the
soaring spires of the gothic Parroquia de San Miguel Arcángel and
the churrigueresque facade of the Templo de San Francisco church.
Come sundown, party at all-night events around the city’s central
plaza, El Jardín.