When I lived in Santa Monica, California there was a neighborhood coffee shop I would frequent on Ocean Pines and 18th Street. A few storefronts down there was a shop that had the most beautiful display of papier mache’ skeletons and Mexican Folk Art to celebrate Dia de los Muertos. I was obsessed with the colors, shapes, and imagery – but didn’t know much about the annual holiday commemorating loved ones that have passed away and are said to return to their loved ones for one day on November 2nd of each year.
Last year, my two children and I attended the Day of the Dead Celebration in Downtown Ft. Lauderdale. We didn’t make it to the processional but we did get to experience some of the street fair which had crafts, food, face painting, and entertainment.
We were too late to get our faces painted, but friends of ours made us paper flower head dresses to join in the festivities. My children enjoyed decorating papier mache’ sugar skull masks. I thought they might be a little afraid of the skeleton imagery but they loved it and thought it was really beautiful.
- 3-8pm – View the Ofrenda Exhibit, or community remembrance alters at the The New River Inn, Fort Lauderdale Historical Society
- 4-6:30pm – Calavaros in the Plaza – Skeleton Costume and Craft Making
- 5-10pm – Muertos Street Festival – Party Begins
- 5-10pm – Craft Crypt – Buy DofD crafts and art
- 6-10pm – Folklorico Stage – Music and Entertainment
- 6:30pm – Skeleton Precessional at Huizenga Plaza, 32 East Las Olas Boulevard, Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
My Tips for This Year:
- Watch The Book of Life by Guillermo del Toro and Jorge Gutierrez. It is a beautifully animated film with an awesome soundtrack. The story begins on the Day of the Dead and “… encourages us to celebrate the past while looking forward to the future.” It was one of my favorite movies of last year.
- Get festive before heading down by creating papier mache’ flowers for your hair. This would be a fun craft to do with your kids at home. If you have an in-house face painter and little ones who love face painting, you may want to try your hand at creating sugar skulls.
- If you don’t have time to dress-up before going to the event, you can attend the Calavaros in the Plaza and create costumes there. I do believe for a fee.
- If you want to shop, go before the processional. The Craft Crypt is split in two locations this year, so hopefully that will help with it not being too crowded.
- If you miss the Calavaros in the Plaza, there will still be face painting and kid’s crafts during the Street Festival.
- Bring cash. The kid’s crafts do cost money.
- Prior to the event there are a lot of opportunities around Ft. Lauderdale for different art workshops that vary in ages of participation. Check the schedule, here.
About the Processional
This playful spectacle is the centerpiece of our event! Our skeleton processional honors traditions where community members in skeleton costumes and masks meander through villages to visit the graves of their ancestors. Opened by the Consul General of Mexico and City Officials, mariachi musicians lead the way as this processional of thousands of skeletons streams from Huizenga Plaza west along Riverwalk. It then heads north on SW 3rd Avenue, where the celebration continues at Revolution Live Entertainment Complex.
Our mission is to produce a free South Florida signature event every November 2nd for all ages that maintains and respects the cultural essence of the Day of the Dead tradition, but also interjects a modern aesthetic as envisioned by regional artists. Additionally skeleton-themed workshops, exhibitions and events shall be created each September and October to make the community opportunity an 8 week series of events each year. Memory for the dead. Party for the living.
I really loved the Day of the Dead celebration last year and look forward to attending again this year. It was a great party with beautiful displays of art, music, remembrance, and community.
Hope to see you there this year!
Have you ever attended a Day of the Dead Celebration? Does your community do anything special for this holiday? We would love to hear about it in the comments below!