The Day of the Dead is fast approaching, and Chicagoans are eagerly gearing up for the three-day Latin American holiday that honors the dearly departed.
Not to be confused with Halloween, Day of the Dead — known in Latin America as Dia de los Muertos — runs from Oct. 31 to Nov. 2, combining the ancient Aztec tradition of celebrating the lives of one’s ancestors with the Catholic All Saints and All Souls Days (Nov. 1-2). Chicago’s Latino community is bringing its A-game with art shows, dances and other Day of the Dead-themed events.
Here are just a few.
National Museum of Mexican Art
Day of the Dead Exhibitions
The festivities kicked off on Sept. 21 in Pilsen at the National Museum of Mexican Art (1852 W 19th St), with the opening of two new exhibitions: Dia de Muertos: A Spiritual Legacy and !No se olvida! Remembering the Tlatelolco Massacre.
Dia de Muertos features “one-of-a-kind displays of traditional and contemporary works of art” in remembrance of the departed. The installation includes objects placed on a ritual altar from the Parkland, Florida community, where a mass shooting claimed the lives of 17 people this year. The exhibition runs through Dec. 9.
!No se olvida! Remembering the Tlatelolco Massacre commemorates the 325 students and civilians who were killed by Mexican police and military on Oct. 2, 1968, in Mexico City’s Tlatelolco neighborhood. The exhibition runs through Jan. 20, 2019.
Dia de los Muertos Xicago
Families get in on the Day of the Dead fun on Sunday, Oct. 2, from 3 to 8 p.m., when museum-goers are treated to ofrenda (altar) demonstrations, live music, face painting, art activities and Pan de Muerto, also known as Day of the Dead bread. “Families and individuals are invited to create their own ofrendas (altars) in Harrison Park, transforming the soccer field into a festive community gathering place,” according to the Museum. Participants at this free event also can submit a photo of a departed loved one to be included in the Museum’s ofrenda altar. The event is free to the public
Dia de los Muertos: Love Never Dies Ball
The National Museum of Mexican Art’s Auxiliary Board is holding its annual Day of the Dead ball on Saturday, Nov. 3 from 6 to 10 p.m.. Attendees enjoy live music, delicious Day of the Dead treats, beer and cocktails, and will have the chance to win exciting prizes. Proceeds go toward Museum programming. Tickets are $125 advance/$150 at the door.
Carrera de los Muertos
The Day of the Dead festivities literally run through Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood on Saturday, Oct. 27, with the 11th Annual Carrera de los Muertos/Race of the Dead. The 5k run starts at 8 a.m., and runners who finish in the top three of their age divisions will win a one-of-a-kind Dia de los Muertos sugar skull. The race is organized by the United Neighborhood Organization (UNO) to promote health and wellness. The 2017 race attracted over 6,000 runners and spectators. Those attending are “highly encouraged” to dress in Day of the Dead costumes. More information about the race is available here.
Insider Tip: The National Museum of Mexican Art is located in Chicago's Pilsen neighborhood, rich in Latino art and culture. This is definitely a hot spot over the Halloween season, and especially during the Day of the Dead celebrations.
Sugar Skull Beauty
Those looking to get into the spirit and wanting to explore their artistic side can check out Pinot’s Palette, 2768 N. Milwaukee Ave., where patrons are invited to paint and sip wine in Logan Square. On Nov. 2, painters will be given the lesson Sugar Skull Beauty. The sip and paint parties are “no art experience required” events, where patrons learn to paint a figure in traditional Day of the Dead regalia.
Day of the Dead Sugar Skull Workshops
Kids learn all about the history of the Day of the Dead, and up the ante on fun by making sugar skulls from scratch — and all in the park! Day of the Dead Sugar Skull workshops are scheduled throughout October at both Eugene Field Park (5100 N Ridgeway Ave) and Mayfair Park (4550 W Sunnyside Ave). This event is ideal for ages 6 and up. Each sugar skull created costs $20.