2012 Day of the Dead events

Pullman's Dia de los Muertos Altar Walk

Pullman's Dia de los Muertos Altar Walk

Customarily, Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a time for mourners to remember and welcome their deceased loved ones back from the afterlife. Altars are decorated with ofrendas, or offerings including pictures of the dead and their favorite food, drinks and trinkets. Other symbolic goods displayed are flowers, candles and skulls, which embody death and rebirth. These shrines are common during observance on November 1 and 2. Over time, the 3,000-year-old Mexican holiday has been observed in various ways. From traditional to unconventional, we round up a list of Day of the Dead celebrations.

Muertos de la Risa in Breathtaking Pilsen Flock to art-rich Pilsen for the granddaddy of local Day of the Dead festivities. Concheros and Aztec troupe Nahui Ollin shows off ancestral footwork (7pm). Before the ceremonial dancing, take to the streets in the community procession (6pm). The fest is heavy on kid-friendly entertainment with face painting and stunts from Calavera Circus (4–6pm). Also on the bill are Benito Juarez Marching Band and the Sherwood Conservatory Percussion Ensemble. The 33rd annual parade is made possible by Pros Arts Studio and Pilsen Environmental Rights and Reform Organization. Dvorak Park, 1119 W Cullerton Ave (prosarts.org). November 2 at 4pm; free.

Dia de los Muertos Chicago Sinfonietta conductor Gisele Ben-Dor leads the orchestra in paying homage to Manuel de Falla, Maurice Ravel, Alberto Ginastera, Astor Piazolla and other admired composers from Spain, Mexico and Latin America. Harris Theater, 205 E Randolph St (chicagosinfonietta.org). Nov 1 at 7:30pm; $26–$50. The concert is presented at Wentz Concert Hall, 171 E Chicago Ave, Naperville (chicagosinfonietta.org). November 2 at 8pm; $40–$50.

"Dia de los Muertos 2012" The largest annual Day of the Dead exhibition features works and ofrendas from more than 100 international artists. This year's display is dedicated to local artist Francisco Mendoza. National Museum of Mexican Art, 1852 W 19th St (nationalmuseumofmexicanart.org). Through December 16, closed Mondays. 10am5pm; free. 

Gozamos Dia de los Muertos Party Online arts and entertainment resource Gozamos is piggybacking on the holiday with a party that's heavy on the liquor and music. Dario Ecks, Soulphonetics, DJ Borderline and Bumbac Joe aim to move the crowd. Chicago Urban Arts Society, 600 W Cermak Rd, Unit 1B (gozamos.com). November 2, 10am2pm; all-you-can-drink wristband $25, advance $15.

UNO 5K Carrera de los Muertos  For this fourth-annual 5K run/walk, 3,000 people are expected to sprint through Pilsen and University Village. Mariachi musicians, DJs and traditional folk dancers help usher costumed participants across the finish line. At the after-party where top contestants are awarded bedecked skulls and costume contest winners are named, replenish by fueling up on Mexican food. Registration is from 6:157:45am. 16th St and Ashland Ave (raceofthedead.com). November 3 at 8am.

Dia de los Muertos at Moe's Cantina Both the Wrigleyville and River North restaurants are in the holiday spirit. The interior design at each location—sugar skulls, flowers, altars, Santa Muerte candles and artwork by David Bozic—corresponds with the festive occasion. Guests are treated to complimentary Day of the Dead face painting and traditional fare (prices vary) including sweet bread, caldo de res and piplan con puerco. Moe's Cantina at 3518 N Clark St and 155 W Kinzie St (moescantina.com). November 2 at 6pm; menu items are $6 and up.

Dia de los Muertos by Mezcalina by Black Coffee Gallery New on the resto scene, Mezcalina prides itself as a hub for emerging artists, Oaxacan cooking and fair-trade coffee. Day of the Dead artwork created by local and regional artists includes memorial altars designed in honor of Surrealist painter Frida Khalo. Pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and a glass of brandy spiked with spice hot Oaxacan cocoa, anyone? The menu was created by chef Manuel Banuelos and mixologist Adam Seger. Lakeshore East Park, 333 E Benton Pl, suite 100 (blakcoffeegallery.com). Through November 3, noon–11pm; $39 tasting table. 



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Laura Baginski, Editor (@TimeOutChicago)