Marion is hosting its fifth annual Dia de los Muertos event this year. (Image via Facebook) Dia de los Muertos in Marion
Marion is hosting its fifth annual Dia de los Muertos event this year. (Image via Facebook)

It’s about celebrating and communing with loved ones who’ve passed away. Look for these North Carolina events in the coming weeks.

Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a Mexican tradition with pre-colonial roots that translates literally as “Day of the Dead.” Celebrated officially on Nov. 1, it has grown in popularity in the US. 

Due to its proximity time-wise, it is sometimes mistakenly equated to Halloween, but its focus is not on ghouls, horror, or spooky things. Rather, it is a time for families and communities to celebrate life by remembering loved ones who have passed. 

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The tradition invites the living to honor and visit with the souls of those gone, and involves creating an altar, or ofrenda, eating and drinking their favorite treats. It’s a joyful reunion that often involves dressing up as la Catrina, the popular skeletal lady, and sharing sweets and happy memories. 

Here’s a list of North Carolina Dia de los Muertos celebrations that are open to the public. For safety during the pandemic, please check times and mask requirements with organizers before heading out.

10/17-11/7 (Marion, NC)

Marion, North Carolina celebrates its fifth annual Dia de los Muertos festival with a photographic exposition of artist Edgardo Mendez revealing how many celebrate Día de Muertos in Mexico. Due to the pandemic, Día de Muertos will not hold its popular gathering on Main Street, but 10 community ofrendas will be set up to honor loved ones who have passed. On Nov. 7, stop by MACA (50 S. Main St.) from 12-2 p.m. to enjoy free pan de muertos and mariachi music.

10/23 (Rutherfordton, NC) 

Ritual of Remembrance at Holy Fool Arts 

10/30 (Pittsboro, NC)

Dia de los Muertos Cooking Celebration by The Travelling Cafe Culinary Studio

10/30 (Wilson, NC)

Casa Azul’s Dia de los Muertos celebration features a community altar – the public is invited to bring framed photos of deceased loved ones – and music of Mexican folkloric ballet and mariachi, as well as candy for children. Costuming is encouraged. 

10/30 (High Point, NC)

Day of the Dead celebration at High Point Museum

The High Point Museum and the YWCA Latino Family Center teach traditional crafts and present a family film from 12-2 p.m. An altar exhibit will be on display until Nov. 6. 

10/31 (Hendersonville, NC)

All along Main Street, downtown Hendersonville celebrates the Treat Street Carnival. The event combines Dia de los Muertos with Halloween festivities, and will have trick-or-treating, a costume contest, inflatables, live music and dancing.

11/2 (Snow Camp, NC)

Blue Bar celebrates Dia de los Muertos with a family-friendly Latino festival, featuring a Hollywood Horror House and live DJ.  

11/2 (Holly Springs, NC)

Holly Springs Community Library shows how the holiday reunites the living and the dead and has a craft session for participants in kindergarten through 5th grade. The event is free but registration and masks are required and space is limited.

11/5 (Winston-Salem, NC)

Dia de Los Muertos Hafla at Art for Art’s Sake.

Proceeds go to support the Forsyth Humane Society and the Humane Solution

11/6 (Mount Airy)

Mount Airy Museum of Regional History celebrates Dia de los Muertos with music, dancers, a raffle, food trucks, crafts and more. Masking indoors is required and outdoors suggested.

11/7 (Charlotte, NC)

La Coalicion/Latin American Coalition in partnership with Levine Museum of the South presents the 17th annual Dia de los Muertos celebration at Camp North End. 

Featuring altar displays by various artists that showcase traditional requirements – earth, wind, water, fire, marigolds, skeletons, photos, and grooming items – plus vendors, food, music and more.