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Here’s how to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico City like a local (join us this year!)

Looking to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico City this year? We got you! Here, you will find the information you need including the schedule of parades for CDMX day of the dead. We hope to see you there!

Mexico City day of the dead feels a little different than the rest of the country. Even though the celebration revolves around death, it’s everything but a gloomy affair. In reality, it’s probably the liveliest time of the year to visit Mexico!

Yes, death is scary for us, too, but day of the dead is all about celebrating life rather than mourning. As Mario Benedetti once said: “After all, death is only a symptom of life”. 

If you’re thinking of heading to Mexico City to celebrate day of the dead, I guarantee you’ll be in for a real treat.

mexico city

Day of the dead falls on November 1st and 2nd, a date when the underworld opens and spirits are believed to visit their loved ones in the living world.

In Mexico City, however, day of the dead is more like a month-long love story, with festivities and events taking place all throughout October and well into November.

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📅 Mexico City day of the dead calendar of events

The tourism government of Mexico City officially announced the calendar of events for day of the dead in Mexico City 2022. Please see below:

October 22, 2022: The Alebrije Parade

In Spanish language, alebrije means “fantasy.” The alebrije is a strong icon of the Mexican culture which are small animal carvings with impressive color schemes.

You will usually find these in the state of Oaxaca but are also predominantly sold in Mexico City’s markets. There are also many alebrije workshops you can participate in.

This is the 14th Mexico City day of the dead parade where the alebrijes will star the streets of CDMX, spearheaded by the Museum of Popular Arts.

mexico city day of the dead

The parade of the alebrijes will take place on October 22, 2022 at 12 noon. The starting point is at the Zocalo and will end in The Angel of Independence in Reforma.

October 22nd is a little bit early for Mexico City day of the dead parade but this is how CDMX celebrates! If you are in town during this date, you must see this parade.

Should you be coming to Mexico City on a later date to celebrate day of the dead, the alebrijes will be on display at Reforma, between the Angel of Independence and the Fountain of Diana de Huntress until November 6, 2022.

mexico city day of the dead parade
Mexico City day of the dead parade of alebrijes starts in the Zocalo and goes through the Angel of Independence (Reforma).

October 23, 2022: The Catrinas Parade

La Calavera Catrina or simply Catrina is a popular icon of day of the dead in Mexico City. Even if you have not been to Mexico yet, you will see imagery of Catrina on the Internet.

If you want to know more about the Catrinas, you need to watch Pixar’s animated film Coco as it is not only entertaining but also gives you an insight on what day of the dead in Mexico’s like.

This year, the Catrinas will grace the streets of Mexico City on an extravagant parade on October 23, 2022 at 6:30 PM.

best time to visit Mexico City

The Catrina parade route will start in the Angel of Independence, pass through Avenida Juarez, and end in the Zocalo. On this day, you will already see many make-up stalls on the street and you can put a Catrina make up for as low as US$5.

The Catrina make-up artists can be found between the Estela de Luz monument and the Angel of Independence from 11:00 AM – 6:00 PM. Make sure to grab a Catrina photo you like and these artists can copy them!

💀 Local tip: when participating in the Catrina parade, costumes are encouraged but not Halloween costumes like zombies. Day of the dead in Mexico is not Halloween. Pick a Catrina make-up style on Pinterest and get an outfit (a dress, suit) that will go with it.

mexico city day of the dead

October 28 – November 2, 2022: See the ofrendas in the Zocalo

In English, ofrenda translates to “offering” and this is the heart of the day of the dead in Mexico City. The Mexicans believe that their loved ones visit them during day of the dead so they leave a massive altar with flowers, food, and drinks.

FYI, you can’t eat the ofrendas as they are not for you. It is still great to walk the Zocalo in Mexico City to see how different Mexican families set their ofrendas.

It can get too crowded at the Zocalo at this time of the year as the craziest and major ofrendas are on display in this area but all over Mexico City, you will already see ofrendas (i.e. outside of people’s homes and businesses).

mexico city day of the dead

October 31, 2022: The 5th annual Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade

The biggest day of the dead parade in the country, Mexico City announced that the parade will start at 12:00 pm on October 31, 2022.

The starting point is the northwest corner of the Zocalo (near the Hypsographic Monument and the Plaza Menor). The annual Mexico City day of the dead parade will last 4.5 hours and will cover 8.7 kilometers.

mexico city day of the dead

More day of the dead events that Mexico Insider recommend:

I live in Mexico City so I already have a few day of the dead events that I plan to go to. Here are a few events:

La Alumbrada at Mixquic

If you want a super local day of the dead experience, La Alumbra should be at the top of your list. Mixquic is a neighborhood located south of Mexico City that hosts some of the most traditional day of the dead celebrations in the city.

During La Alumbrada, all electricity in Mixquic is turned off, making its candlelit streets and cemeteries the only source of light available.

Throughout the night, you’ll get to stroll the neighborhood’s cobblestone streets, see colorful ofrendas, gorge on traditional day of the dead food, and take part in live entertainment and performances.

Live mariachi music is a guarantee, too! La Alumbrada will take place in Mixquic on November 2, 2022 at 7:00 PM.

Festival Chaman in Teotihuacan

A days-long festival held at the Teotihuacan Pyramids. Throughout the festival, you’ll be able to listen to Mexican legends and tales at night (not for the faint of heart!).

See displays of ofrendas, and take part in various workshops (pan de muerto baking, papel picado-making, ceramics, and more!) The date and time are yet to be determined.

mexico city day of the dead
The Teotihuacan pyramids lit up during day of the dead. | Photo: Mexico City

Xochimilco Mexico City day of the dead

Boat ride through Xochimilco

Throughout October and November, you can take a trajinera ride through the canals of Xochimilco. You can do this year-round, but during day of the dead season, they take a little twist and focus more on the spooky side of the canals.

Throughout the ride, you’ll be able to listen to Mexican horror legends, visit the isla de las muñecas (a small islet that homes hundreds of horrifying dolls), and of course, drink to your heart’s content!

After you get off the boat, make sure you also explore the rest of Xochimilco. This is a very traditional neighborhood in the south of Mexico City that brims with life and festivities during day of the dead.

There are many embarkation points in Xochimilco, yours will depend on the tour you book. 

mexico city day of the dead
Xochimilco is a 1 hour 19 min drive from Mexico City but expect heavier traffic during day of the dead. | Photo: Xperiencias Mexico

La Llorona Xochimilco

Hop on a boat under the moonlight to enjoy a theatrical and musical display at night. You’ll get the chance to learn about the legend of La Llorona and other Mexican mythical tales over the ancient canals of Xochimilco!

The play is an absolute delight for every single one of your senses. It’s visually stunning and provides a wonderful insight into Pre-hispanic music and culture.

La Llorona Xochimilco still don’t have a date for 2022. Ticket prices usually start at US$30 which includes a boat ride to the stage. The boats take off from Embarcadero Cuemanco.

🔖 Bookmark this post, especially as the date starts to approach. We will be updating you with every single activity in the city as soon as we hear about it. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Instagram so you don’t miss anything!

💀 Why celebrate the day of the dead in Mexico City?

While day of the dead in Mexico isn’t as “traditional” as it is in other parts of Mexico, in recent years, the city has made a huge effort to implement it more into its cultural calendar.

All throughout October, you’ll be spoiled for choice with wonderful things to do related to the celebration.

Think immersive experiences that will take you through Mictlán (the Aztec underworld), theater performances showcasing Mexican horror legends on a lake, skull-themed exhibitions, and so much more.

Don’t be surprised if you find yourself getting overwhelmed with options, especially if you’re the artsy type! I’d describe day of the dead in Mexico City as artsy and classy with a modern twist to it.

If you’re looking to party and want a more traditional celebration, though, I’d opt to celebrate day of the dead in Oaxaca instead.

🕯️ How is the day of the dead celebrated in Mexico City?

Starting in October, Mexico City becomes a playground for day of the dead-themed activities. As the main date approaches, the city gets blanketed with orange cempasuchil flowers, gigantic skulls, and colorful papel picado.

Halloween is also huge in Mexico City – Mexico City locals LOVE it! In fact, it’s my favorite holiday of the year and has been ever since I was a little kid.

Because my birthday falls on November 1st, I usually celebrate it by hosting a big Halloween party on the night of 31st (which I totally regret the next day when I feel like I am coming out from the dead myself for day of the dead).

Throughout October, you’ll also be able to celebrate Halloween all over the city, be it by attending the many costume-themed nights held at nightclubs, joining the annual Horror Film festival, or spending an evening getting spooked at Six Flags.

I guess that’s what I love the most about day of the dead in Mexico City. There seems to be a Halloween vs day of the dead fight all over, but my response to it usually is: Why not both?!

day of the dead in mexico city

🌼 Mexico City day of the dead visitor’s guide

Mexico City day of the dead: how far ahead should you book your accommodation?

Day of the dead in Mexico City isn’t as big for tourists as it is in places like Oaxaca or Pátzcuaro, so you don’t really have to worry that much when it comes to planning ahead.

With the huge influx of tourism and digital nomads we’ve been receiving lately, though, I’m not sure how long that’s going to last.

If you’ve got your heart set on celebrating day of the dead in Mexico City, perhaps it would be a good idea to start booking your tickets and accommodation now to stay on the safe side.

How long should I be in Mexico City for the day of the dead?

At least a week before the actual festival and maybe a few extra days after. Here’s the thing: The city doesn’t announce the dates of the big Mexico City day of the dead parade until a few weeks before the actual event.

The parade is probably the main reason you’re even looking to celebrate day of the dead in Mexico City anyway (yes, I’m talking about the one you saw on James Bond!).

In 2021, the parade was held on October 31st, whereas the one before took place on November 1st. If you want to book your flight and accommodation in advance, I recommend reserving at least from October 27th until November 4th to make sure you don’t miss out on it no matter the date it ends up falling on.

Plus, the city is a true treat throughout the entirety of October. It’s my absolute favorite time to be in Mexico City. You’ll find a ton of day of the dead-themed events, museum exhibits, dining experiences, and so much more before (and even after) the main event.

You definitely want to stay in the city longer to experience this incredible time of the year in CDMX!

✨ Mexico City day of the dead local tips

The day of the dead parade is what put Mexico City on the map as a destination to celebrate the date. The festival was made famous thanks to its appearance in the James Bond movie. Sort of.

Here’s a confession: The festival didn’t even exist before the movie. It was actually more of a product that came out of it. After the film’s success, the government decided to re-create the festival, and it has since become a beloved tradition in Mexico City.

The festival covers almost 9 kilometers, starting in Zocalo (the main plaza) and finishing in the Chapultepec area. It usually lasts about 5 hours.

My only recommendation is to get to Zocalo a few hours before the parade begins because it gets extremely crowded and you may not be able to grab a good spot otherwise.

As for safety in Mexico City day of the dead, I don’t think there are any extra precautions you need to take in Mexico City during day of the dead than the regular ones.

Just be aware of pickpocketers during the parade as it gets extremely crowded.

✈️ Ready for your trip to Mexico City? If you need more information about day of the dead in Mexico City, we’d be happy to update this post – just leave your questions below or join our Facebook community where we answer questions without a cost.

🇲🇽 Mexico City Travel Resources

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Bret

Wednesday 28th of September 2022

Do you know when the official date for the Mexico City grand parade will be. Some sites are saying October 29 and others October 31. We don't want to miss it! :)

Trisha Velarmino

Friday 30th of September 2022

Hola Bret! We already updated the Mexico City Day of the Dead calendar above. Feel free to go to the first part where you see the calendar icon. Enjoy CDMX!

Matthew

Thursday 1st of September 2022

What part of the city would you recommend staying in or finding a hotel or airbnb ? A safe but fun neighborhood for someone traveling alone who wants to experience this majestic event. Any helpful recommendations would be great. I

Daniela Ramos

Friday 2nd of September 2022

Condesa, Rome Norte or Polanco for sure! The Cuauhtemoc neighborhood is also very nice. They're all located close to Reforma where the parade starts and are meant for young people :-) Polanco is a bit posher while Condesa and Roma Norte have a more artsy/hipster vibe.

Shreya Saha

Monday 13th of June 2022

All I know now is that if I am ever visiting Mexico, it would be mid-October to mid-November. Surely I would get lucky enough to witness the Day of the Dead festival with the famous parade. I wasn't aware that it's celebrated in such a gala way.

Jackie

Friday 10th of June 2022

This is one of those cultural events that looking on from the outside can seem intimidating! It's wonderful to hear what a fun celebration Day of the Dead can be in Mexico City. I had no idea this event is celebrated for such a long time, there. And I love the idea of taking a moonlit boat ride at La Llorona Xochimilaco. Such an elaborate festival with amazing costumes - it looks like a great time to immerse yourself in a surreal experience! I'm so glad I know more about it, thanks to you!

Clarice

Wednesday 8th of June 2022

We also celebrate our dearly departed on November 1 and 2 here in the Philippines. Though, we don't really have the festivities and events like the one in Mexico City. Thank you for sharing this. I learned something new and intriguing today!

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