Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) 2011 Celebration at Hollywood Forever Cemetery

On Saturday, October 22nd, the historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery will host the 12th annual Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) celebration. On this Mexican holiday, families gather to pay homage to their deceased loved ones and ancestors. Unlike Halloween, Día de Los Muertos is meant to be joyous and respectful, not frightening. Traditionally, altars with ofrendas (offerings) are placed on graves or set up in the home. These altars can be very elaborate with lighted candles, marigold flowers, wreaths, calaveras de azúcar (sugar skulls), and offerings of the person’s favorite foods and drinks—even bottles of tequila! One specialty is pan de muerto (bread of the dead) that’s baked in the shape of a skull, or a round loaf with bone-like crosses on it, and then sprinkled with sugar.

At Hollywood Forever’s Día de Los Muertos festivities you can wander around the cemetery where screen icons like Rudolph Valentino, Douglas Fairbanks and Jayne Mansfield are buried. An Ancestral Procession will begin at 2:45 p.m. This year, visitors will witness “Transition of the Souls,” a rare, never-before-seen ritual welcoming the soul of Mayan God Chac Mool. Following the procession, there will be Aztec fire dancing, live music, face painting for the children, and of course, plenty of vendors selling authentic Mexican food. Many people will even be dressed up as the dead themselves. “Elegant” skeleton costumes are very popular, with men in suits and sombreros and women in fancy party dresses, their faces painted like macabre calaveras (skulls).

This year’s star performers include Astrid Hadad and international music icon Ruben Albarran, lead singer of Café Tacuba.

Last year, I was really impressed by all of the extravagant costumes and altars. I expect that this year will be even better! Organizers will be presenting the “Best Altar” with a $3000 cash prize and the person with the “Most Original Calavera” will win $500.

Where: Hollywood Forever Cemetery, located at 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038 (between Gower and Van Ness).  Parking at the cemetery is notoriously bad so you might consider taking a taxi or be prepared to walk a few blocks. 

When: Saturday, October 22nd from 12:00 p.m. to midnight. (It gets really crowded once the sun goes down so I recommend getting there early.

Cost: Admission is $10 per person (children under 6 are free.)

More Info: Go to the official website at ladayofthedead.com for a full lineup of activities.


Here’s a slideshow of some photos I took at last year’s celebration:

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