FLAGSTAFF, Ariz. - People can celebrate Mexican cultural traditions in a lively festival setting at the 11th annual Celebraciones de la Gente, Day of the Dead celebration Oct. 25 and 26 at the Museum of Northern Arizona (MNA).
Festival admission is $10 adults, $9 seniors (65+), $7 students (with ID), $6 American Indians, and $6 youths (10-17). Children 10 and younger are free.
Visitors will have the opportunity to buy fine and folk art directly from artists while enjoying traditional food, music, lectures, artistic workshops and dance performances by local, national and international presenters. Mariachi Sol Azteca, In Tlanextli Tlacopan Aztec Fire Dancers and Ballet Folklórico de Colores will perform both Saturday and Sunday in the museum's Branigar/Chase Discovery Center. Festival favorites and Valley artists Zarco and Carmen Guerrero will present interactive storytelling and song, while children of all ages can enjoy Day of the Dead inspired crafts and activities like sugar skull decorating and mask making.
Celebraciones de la Gente is presented by the Museum of Northern Arizona in partnership with Flagstaff's Nuestras Raíces, a local grassroots organization of Flagstaff's Hispanic pioneer families from the 1900s, dedicated to promoting Mexican, Mexican-American and Hispanic cultures.
The museum's historic Jaime Major Golightly courtyard will be transformed - decorated with brightly colored papel picado (paper banners), candles and flower-and-memento-filled ofrendas (altars) honoring deceased loved ones created by local families and artists in Flagstaff.
"The festival is a joyous celebration that conveys the belief that death is not the end, but rather the beginning of a new stage in life," said Linda Martin, Heritage program manager at the MNA. "It is a way for the community and families to honor those who have departed and transform grief into music, dance, art and a celebration of life."
Day of the Dead (Día de los Muertos), an ancient pre-Columbian observance, is held throughout Mexico, Latin America and the Southwest on Nov. 1 and 2 (All Saint's Day and All Soul's Day). Today's celebrations fuse centuries of indigenous practices with contemporary traditions and spiritual beliefs. While each event is different from the next, central to every celebration is a gathering of friends and family who visit cemeteries to remember their loved ones.
"Community participation is an essential part of this holiday," said Martin. "It is a weekend full of life, reflection, family and fun."