SAN ANTONIO, TX (Oct. 26, 2020) – At a time when so much is happening and changing around us, coming together to celebrate life and the life of our loved ones who have passed couldn’t be more timely. Known for hosting the largest celebration of Dia de Muertos (Day of the Dead) in the U.S., San Antonio’s marking of the 2020 holiday will be a special moment for community remembrance that welcomes locals and visitors alike to participate in person following social distancing and health guidelines, virtually through online events and a first-ever, made-for-television river procession.
Dating back to pre-Columbian times, Day of the Dead is a traditional Mexican holiday when people celebrate their late loved ones. Participants create festive altars adorned with photographs, food and other gifts associated with the holiday such as marigolds, incense and candles to honor those who have passed. It’s said that on Nov. 1 and 2, the distance between the living and the dead is at its closest point creating a special moment to share memories and send wishes to dearly departed family and friends.
“Dia de Muertos is an authentic celebration of life which has been part of San Antonio for several generations,” said Casandra Matej, President & CEO of Visit San Antonio. “With the current pandemic forcing many families to be apart and sometimes unable to hold a proper funeral, this commemoration of Dia de Muertos will be special as we get to share the love for our dearly departed in person or virtually and do so as a community.”
From Oct. 21 through Nov. 7, San Antonio’s commemorations for 2020 include virtual and hybrid events, some going back more than 40 years, with traditional altars, live music, Mexican cuisine and a river procession. Restaurants, cafes and cultural institutions across the city will showcase altars, customary décor and fresh-baked pan de muerto, a sweet bread that’s a traditional offering.
Dia de los Muertos Night Run (Oct. 5 – Nov. 5): For its 10th anniversary edition, the 2020 Night Run will be a virtual run. Participants are encouraged to dress-up and go on a 5K Run/Walk then share their photo and time. While there will not be awards for times, just finisher medals, participants who dress-up and submit their photo with their bib number will be entered into a contest for best costume. The registration fee includes mailing of the race kit at no extra cost.
Calavera Exhibition (Oct. 21 – Nov. 9): Presented throughout Downtown San Antonio, 18 monumental skulls hand painted by emerging and established artists of great recognition honor the victims of Covid this year as well as other causes that raised their voices in 2020. Additioanlly, two works created by Mexico City’s “El Volador” art studio will be on display – a Giant Catrina at La Gloria at Pearl and El Rombero at San Antonio International Airport.
San Antonio Museum of Art (Oct. 23 & Nov. 1, 3): The museum will present two events offering the chance for in-person and virtual experiences. The first is Physically-Distanced Family Flick: “The Book of Life” on Oct. 23 where museum goers may enjoy a free and physically distanced family movie in the West courtyard. “The Book of Life” is an animated movie narrating the story of Manolo, who is torn between fulfilling the expectations of family tradition and following his heart. Participants are encouraged to bring their camp chairs, blankets and picnics and advised that limited space is available on a first-come, first-served basis. The second event is Touch-Free Family Day See + Do on Nov. 1 and 3. Participants can pick up an art kit with everything needed to decorate a traditional sugar skull and draw La Catrina on scratch art paper, then explore the Latin American galleries with a self-paced scavenger hunt.
San Antonio Botanical Garden (Oct. 27): Join the San Antonio Botanical Garden and the Alamo for a festive Día de los Muertos-inspired virtual cooking class. Learn all about age-old Mexican traditions without leaving the country. Guests will prepare traditional dishes including champurrado, sopa Azteca, candied pumpkin with spiced piloncillo syrup and blood orange marigold margaritas.
McNay Art Museum (Oct. 28): The museum’s weekly virtual art museum field trip program where each week combines three works of art and a universal theme will focus on skeletons and calaveras for Oct. 28. The McNay’s educators will take participants on a tour and conversation featuring José Guadalupe Posada, Calavera Catrina, ca. 1910; Edward Gordon Craig, Enter the Ghost of Hamlet’s Father, in Hamlet, 1925; and Tim Burton, Jack’s Tower from The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993. Art lovers from across Texas and around the world are invited to sign up for this shared virtual experience through the McNay’s website.
Virtual Day of the Dead River Parade (Oct. 30, Nov. various dates): For the first time, the San Antonio River Walk will host a made-for-television procession that is not open to the public in order to keep social distancing and other health guidelines in mind. The procession, filmed in late October featuring 20 highly decorated barges representing different aspects of the holiday or commemorating those who have passed away, will broadcast on San Antonio’s KSAT-TV Oct. 30 and air in syndication in cities across the country in late October and throughout November – viewers are encouraged to check local listings for air dates and times.
Día de Los Muertos Festival (Oct. 31 – Nov. 2): For its eighth year, this celebration, also known as Muertos Fest, will be a virtual event. The festival will air as a one-hour special featuring community altars, stories and musical guests on San Antonio’s KMYS-TV CW35 Oct. 31 and have an encore streaming with expanded content online at muertosfest.com Nov. 1 at 7 p.m. In addition to the broadcast and stream, visitors will be able to view a community altar including photos submitted online, as well as art installations by Momo and Pompa, on display at Hemisfair park through Nov. 2. The fest was named one of the “10 Great Day of the Dead Celebrations” by USA Today and one of the “7 Best Fall Festivals in the U.S.” by National Geographic.
Muertitos Fest (Nov. 1-30): SAY Sí, a creative youth development organization, curates one of the city’s most comprehensive annual Día de Muertos celebrations. Due to the pandemic, Muertitos Fest 2020 will transform into a month-long season of virtual programs on their website and social media. Experiences will include educational workshops, a virtual mercado, video performances from local talent, a gallery of student artwork, an interactive community altar and video tours of folk art collections – all under the theme of Amor y Esperanza (Love & Hope).
Pearl (Nov. 1-8): Pearl will showcase two virtual altars created by local artists in addition to altars at Hotel Emma, La Gloria and a large community altar at the Pearl Shade Structure, which guests are encouraged to visit in a safe manner. Masks will be required when visiting the altars. The public also can purchase Maker Kits from the Feliz Modern Pop store beginning October 13 – options include a Catrina Collage by local artist Regina Moya or a Sugar Skull Piñata by Manola & Maria and Lua Bash. Kits include instructions and materials, and how-to demos by the artists will be available on Pearl’s Facebook page on November 1.
Centro Cultural Aztlan (Nov. 2-16): This is San Antonio’s longest-standing Día de Muertos celebration – dating back to 1977 – with Centro Cultural Aztlan transforming its gallery into a giant art installation filled with unique altars. On Nov. 2, Centro Aztlan’s Facebook page will stream a live tour and presentation of cultural traditions, history and artistic celebration highlighting altars and artwork by local artists. The program will include highlights and personal stories by the artists and conclude with a virtual concert. The event video will be posted on Centro Aztlan’s Facebook, YouTube and website following the Nov. 2 Facebook Live event.
Bihl Haus Arts (Nov. 2): Paintings and multiple-themed, devotional altars will transform the Gallery into a large-scale Dia de Muertos ofrenda by artist David Zamora Casas during the installation “Love and Death in Times of Pandemic/Amor y La Muerte en Tiempos de Pandemia.” This Texas-inspired, contemporary Dia de Muertos ofrenda fuses Aztec, Catholic, pagan, Chicana/o and queer culture elements to re-envision the Mexican grand formal altars of the Catholic church, el campo santo/graveyard and home domestic altars.
Whether virtually or in-person, join one of San Antonio’s most vibrant traditions. To learn more, explore visitsanantonio.com/dia-de-los-muertos.
Additional events, information and media images available at media.visitsanantonio.com
Dee Dee Poteete