What is the festival?

Dia de los muertos is an annual festival that celebrates the dead in a vibrant, colourful four- day party. Oaxaca and Mexico City are well known for being the most vibrant and colourful cities to visit to see the spectacle of fancy dress, lively street dancing, floral covered cemeteries and displays of local Oaxacan arts and crafts.

Travellers from all over the world visit for the festivities, making it a lively time to visit Oaxaca to party with the local Mexicans and to learn about the traditions from the Oaxacan people. Oaxaca also offers world class shopping, museums, galleries and dining experiences to be enjoyed during your stay.

Dia de los muertos alters

As you meander through the streets there is plenty to see, you come across colourful altars decorated in the bright Cempaspuchitl flowers (marigolds) that act as shrines for the dead. Mexicans decorate them with offerings of pan de muertos, fruit, drinks and photos to signify offerings to those no longer alive.

Live music is played on the streets, and the locals paint their faces and wear colourful fancy dress. Tourists can also join in and enjoy the face painting during the festival, therefore I opted for La Calavera Catrina and flowers in my hair, which seemed to be the local attire for the evening parties.

Festival cuisine

Food is a large part of what makes a visit to Oaxaca so enjoyable and it’s simply delicious, there is an abundance of fine restaurants to try the Oaxacan cuisine. Casa Oaxaca and Los Dazantes are excellent restaurants and well worth a visit to try tomales and other regional mole dishes. The cocktails at Hotel Los Amantas on the rooftop bar overlooking the Santo Domingo Cathedral and city are really fantastic for sundown.

Pan De Muertos is baked especially for the festival. It’s a sweet bread often decorated with a small white icing skull on top just for the festival, which is enjoyed with coffee in a local street side cafe.

Food lovers should make a pilgrimage to Oaxaca for its fresh and deliciously seasoned Oaxacan cuisine, with some of the best and cheaper local fare found at the 20 de Noviembre market in the centre of town.

You haven’t experienced the true Oaxaca without trying the delicious mole sauces, of which there are at least seven. The Tlayudas are a tasty option for lunch, they’re large tortillas served with vegetable or meat and Oaxacan white cheese - , washed down nicely with a Mezcal cocktail. Mezcal is the local liquor, which is similar to Tequila but made from Agave Cactus. There are plenty of places to buy uy the Mmezcal around the city, but having it straight is a bit intense, but with guava fruits or mango in a cocktail they are delicious. Throughout the festival there are plenty of opportunities to try the drink for free or purchase it from the local tiendas.

Day of the Dead Cemetery Day of the Dead Cemetery

Fiestas on the streets
 
Each day of the festival there is music scheduled throughout the city, ranging from drumming to classical concerts to wilder parties in the cemeteries that start around 1am and go on until 6am. One evening I was invited to join a party outside a shop with some locals who gave me free shots of Mezcal and also Chicken Tamales. I sat and watched some local traditional street dancing, while enjoying the local delicacies and talking my best Spanish to the locals. It’s these experiences that make the festival so special and a must see for any trip to Mexico in 2018.


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