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12 spirited ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in San Antonio

12 spirited ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in San Antonio

Dia de los Muertos San Antonio the Pearl
San Antonio comes alive for Dia de los Muertos. Photo by Matt Buikema

Originally a Mexican tradition, Día de los Muertos is a time when folks remember those dearly departed and honor the continuity of precious life. The holiday got a boost from Chicano artists during the 1970s and since then has been celebrated across Texas with increasing fervor.

This year, consider making a trip to San Antonio during Día de los Muertos, a time time when the city comes alive in celebration of the dead. From fun runs to classic Día de los Muertos celebrations to family-friendly affairs, these 12 events are sure to get Texans in the spirit of the season.

Celebrando Tradiciones: Día de los Muertos — November 1
On the heels of a successful runs of Curanderas & Chocolate: Cuentos of a Latina Life, a one-woman show starring Patricia Zamora, and Rio Bravo, a time-hopping dance concert featuring Jesse Borrego, the Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents its annual Día de los Muertos festival on the quaint Guadalupanita Patio. The Guadalupe Dance Company and Mariachi Azteca de America will provide the entertainment and the pan de muerto will keep bellies full. 6-11 pm. Free. 

Día de los Muertos Metalfest November 1
Those who like their music loud enough to raise the dead will want to head over to Fitzgerald’s Bar & Live Music Venue to experience Blackened, the Metallica tribute band that headlines this heavy metal musical lineup. Bloody Cape, a Deftones tribute band, will also take the stage after A.O. River kicks off the night. Patrons are encouraged to dress in Day of the Dead gear for a chance to win various prizes. Doors open at 8 pm. Tickets are $8 pre-sale, $12 at the door. Ages 21 and up.

Día de los Muertos at The William — November 1
The William, a boutique hotel in the darling town of Boerne, offers a Día de los Muertos celebration that's a little cozier, elegant, and upscale. Parade your deadliest costume at this balcony soiree and indulge with gourmet bites and fancy beverages. The luxury resort will be beautifully decorated with Mexican marigolds and the sound of traditional holiday music will fill the frosty air. In short, the staff at the William are dying to delight you. 7-10:30 pm. Tickets $12-$20.

Día de los Muertos — November 1
Rinconcito de Esperanza, which recently hosted CineFestival’s star-studded after party, will host a lively festival that will include literary readings, calaveras, and a costumed procession through the neighborhood in honor of deceased familia, friends, and ancestors. Instruments or noisemakers are more than welcome. Under the leadership of director Graciela Sanchez, who recently won the 2019 Distinction in the Arts medallion from the City of San Antonio, the venue continues to be a safe space for activists, artists, and community members. Concessions of hot chocolate, tamales, and pan de muerto will be available along with vegan options. 5-11 pm. Free.

Muertitos Fest — November 1-2
Celebrating a tradition that ties our city to its closest neighboring country, SAY Sí will present a Día de los Muertos festival with a contextual twist. This educational event will showcase student art, altars, folk art workshops, food booths, and an artisan mercado. Spectators can expect to sit back and enjoy live performances from dancers, musicians, and sideshow entertainers. For the kids, there will be hands-on art activities, face painting, and a best-dressed contest for the whole family. This year’s theme, Mestizo, puts the spotlight on the convergence of cultures and the indigenous roots of our mesquite-filled region. Friday from 6-10:30 pm and Saturday 12-4 pm. Free.

Día de los Muertos at the Pearl — November 1-2 

Costumes and face painting are highly encouraged at this free, family-friendly event at the Historic Pearl. Though events take place both days, head to the historic district on November 1 take part in the annual procession at 6:15 pm. In between, participate in art making, peruse wares from local vendors, and listen to music from El Tallercito de Son SATX, Volcán, Conjunto Heritage Taller, Mariachi Azteca de América, and Azul Barrientos throughout the two-day event. Festivities begin at 5 pm both days. Free.

Día de los Muertos Festival — November 1-3
Those in the mood for shrimp, crab, and lobster boil should head to Big Texas Fun’s Boil & Brew at Retama Park. This three-day fest will feature a carnival, art displays, Tejano music and dancing and, of course, the ever-important face painting. Friday 6-11 pm, Saturday-Sunday noon-11 pm. Tickets range from $6 to $20. Parking $5 onsite.

3rd Annual Mix Fit Mimosa Fun Run — November 2
Getting fit is a lot more fun if mimosas are waiting at the finish line. Though it isn’t required, participants are invited to dress up in Día de los Muertos-themed costumes as they run this 2.5-mile progressive course. There’s also a motivating good cause. The event’s beneficiary is SJRC Texas (formerly known as St. Jude’s Ranch for Children), a nonprofit that helps provide hope and healing for abused and abandoned children in Bexar and Comal counties. Check-in is at 9 am. The run starts at 10 am. $10 online registration fee.

Día de los Muertos on the Old Spanish Trail — November 2
Centro Cultural Aztlan, a shining star in San Antonio’s Deco District, is producing perhaps one of the most multifaceted neighborhood festivals. First, their noontime Altares y Ofrendas exhibition will lead up to a 5 pm procession from Deco District H-E-B back to the gallery. Those attending this event should feel free to wear traditional holiday regalia and bring offerings for Centro Aztlan’s community altar. Stroll through art installations along The Old Spanish Trail and enjoy live music on the bustling Avenida de los Artesanos. Special altares will honor the late San Antonio mayor Lila Cockrell, jazz musician Jim Cullum and artist and activist Gene Elder. The Altares y Ofrendas exhibition runs November 2-8 and the artist installations on the Old Spanish Trail runs October 28-November 15. But the lavish aforementioned event, now in its 42nd year, is sure to be something special. Free.

12th Annual Día de los Muertos Fireworks Festival — November 2
Sharing a fireworks festival with someone you love is a great way to make memories. District 7’s Woodlawn Lake Park will be the backdrop for a night of fun and pyrotechnic merriment. Lawn chairs or blankets are recommended at this free, family- and pet-friendly event. There will be a memorial balloon release, a build-your-own-skull station for the kids, a family photo booth, and a classic car show. After appearances by Grupo Folklorico de Bendiciones and the Tehuan Band of Mission Indians, the evening will culminate with a spectacular 20-minute fireworks display at 8:15 pm, so you may want to usher furry friends out before the show. 4-9 pm. Free.

Family Day See + Do: Día de los Muertos — November 3
The folks at the San Antonio Museum of Art understand that children will ultimately carry on modern-day traditions. At this family-centered event, decorating sugar skulls, crafting ofrendas, making Catrina-inspired art, and contributing to the community altar are just a few of the fun activities in which kids can take part. Noon-3 pm. Free with museum admission.

Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street — Through November 16
Pan de muerto isn’t the only treat being offered this hallowed season. Meat pies are all the rage in 19th century London, where death and, well, murder, is even more interesting when set to the music of Stephen Sondheim. Presented by the Roxie Theatre Company this macabre musical may make you go vegan. Tickets $22-$29.