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5 Bay Area events to celebrate Dia de los Muertos

Written by
Anna Volpicelli

Is your ofrenda ready? Institutions across the Bay Area are preparing to celebrate Día de Los Muertos, the Latino tradition that honors the memory of people who have passed by welcoming them back to earth, with feasting, music and dancing. Next week, notable chefs from Oaxaca and award-winning musicians from Veracruz will team up with local cooks and performers for authentic culinary and cultural experiences across the Bay Area. 

Photograph: Lola Chase


A series of video art installations animate the Dia de los Muertos celebration at SomArts Center, which touches on contemporary topics like border politics, de-colonialism, Afro Latinx visibility and spirituality. The videos, a mix of original creations and curated works, will be synced with techno, cumbia and salsa music. SomArts Center, 934 Brannan St ( Oct 25 at 6pm. 

Dia de los Muertos menu at Calavera

The Oakland restaurant will serve a special menu in homage to the holiday. In the kitchen, chef Dario Pantoja and guest chef Julio Aguilera will serve a few traditional Oaxacan dishes like aguachile negro with octopus and three different kinds of mole (negro Oaxaca, mole poblano and mole amarillo). Desserts include pan de muerto and calabaza de tacha (candied pumpkin). Special cocktails, including the panteon viejo, named for the old cemetery in Oaxaca, is served with a housemade cranberry skull cube. In addition to the food there will be face painters and a decorative altar to El Santo, the legendary masked Mexican wrestler who appeared in several lucha libre films and was inducted into the WWE’s Hall of Fame this year. Calavera, 2337 Broadway, Oakland ( Oct 30–Nov 4.

Napa Valley Tequila Train

All aboard this one-night-only tequila train. Festive decor and a live DJ will set the mood for the 4-course menu designed by chef Enrique Olvera’s Criollo, featuring clam and chochoyotas chilpachole with corn leave ashes; pumpkin cooked in brown sugar, heirloom tomatoes, eggplant, burrata cheese and fresh leaves; ribeye, with chichilo mole, plantain and parsnip; and a sweet potato tamale, with pineapple, cacao nibs and almond. The meal will be paired with a few signature cocktails made with Tequila Casa Dragones Blanco, followed by Blanco on the Rocks and Tequila Casa Dragones Joven for a closing toast. Napa Valley Train ( Nov 1 at 5:15pm.  

Oakland Ballet
Photograph: Jason Lee

Luna Mexicana at Oakland Ballet 

Oakland Ballet celebrates the holiday with the return of the acclaimed Luna Mexicana: A Day of the Dead Celebration, an intriguing and mysterious performance in which a young woman dreams of resurrecting her deceased friends and family in a colorful parade of twirling skirts, suave skeletons, and a corpse bride and groom. This year, the lineup will include Viva la Vida, a new work that celebrates the life and artistry of Frida Kahlo, from Oakland Ballet Company artistic director Graham Lustig and Martin Romero of Balllet Folklorico Mexico Danza. Paramount Theater, 2025 Broadway, Oakland ( Nov 2 at 7:30pm, Nov 3 at 4pm. 

Dia de los Muertos Community Concert 

The celebration starts at 1pm at Davies Symphony Hall where catrines y catrinas will introduce Bay Area artist Irma Ortiz, who will demonstrate how to decorate sugar skulls. Afterwards, grab your seat for a series of concerts including Sam Hyken’s Toccata y Fuga, a Spanish dance-infused arrangement of J.S. Bach’s Toccata and Fugue in D minor and selections from Falla’s Andalusian-influenced ballet El Amor Brujo, with a few dancers from Casa Círculo Cultural. The award winning Mexicans violinist Villalobos Brothers will close the evening with a concert led by conductor Jacomo Bairos. Davies Symphony Hall, 201 Van Ness Ave ( Nov 3 at 1pm. 

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