Best Day of the Dead / Día de Muertos 2022 Events in New York

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Mexico’s La Catrina sculpture Week: Día De Muertos at Rockefeller Center 2021 | Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

Mexico’s La Catrina sculpture Week: Día De Muertos at Rockefeller Center 2021 | Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

With festivities often stretching from October 27 to November 6, Día de Muertos, or Day of the Dead – which lands on Wednesday November 2 this year – is a Mexican holiday honoring the spiritual afterlife of those who are physically deceased.

Tracing its origins thousands of years ago to the indigenous cultures of the Aztec and Mexican peoples of Mexico, this sacred observance is rooted in joy and places special emphasis on the importance of family. Distinct from the spooky and haunted themes of Halloween, Day of the Dead also revolves around the notion of the heavens opening up to allow deceased loved ones to visit the land of the living once a year.

Now celebrated throughout Latin America and in pockets around the world, traditional practices include welcoming spirits by placing pictures, candles, marigolds, food, drink and more on ofrendas and tombstones. In addition, the party is also celebrated in many large cities (such as Mexico City, Los Angelesand San Antonio) through festive events like parades, art exhibits, parties and street fairs.

See how proudly our city is home to a latin community, there are many ways to enjoy this year’s holidays in the boroughs. From holiday-themed cruises along the Hudson to awesome arts programming hosted by Rockefeller Center, here are some fun ways to celebrate Day of the Dead in New York City this year.

Cetiliztli Nauhcampa show at the National Museum of the American Indian
Cetiliztli Nauhcampa show at the National Museum of the American Indian | Photo by 5th Avenue Digital for the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian

Saturday 29 October, 12 p.m.-2 p.m. and 3 p.m.-5 p.m.
FiDi
Since 1994, the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian has been a hub for the history and deeper understanding of Indigenous peoples from the earliest times to the present day. This year, the museum is honoring the indigenous peoples of Mexico and the Day of the Dead with a special performance around the museum’s community altar by the Aztec Dance Troupe, Cetiliztli Nauhcampa. After the performance, visitors can discover current exhibitions such as New York nativewhich explores the First Peoples of our region and is an ideal resource to learn more about The native culture of NYC.
Cost: Free for entry

Day of the Dead at Brooklyn Army Terminal
Day of the Dead at Brooklyn Army Terminal | Photo courtesy of Brooklyn Army Terminal

From Saturday 29 October to Wednesday 2 November
sunset park
Led by the accessible artistic production space of ArtBuiltwhich houses the creative workshops of more than 100 local artists and small businesses, go to Brooklyn Military Terminal at Sunset Park for five days of Day of the Dead community programming. First, on Saturday, October 29, join the crew and other New Yorkers to build a massive ofrenda with tissue paper marigolds and photo frames. Then, until Wednesday November 2, go for live shows, including a jaguar dance with Tecuanes San Rafael and traditional mariachi music by the Chihuahua Mariachi Nuevo Sol.
Cost: Free to participate

Mexico's La Catrina sculpture Week: Día De Muertos at Rockefeller Center 2021
Mexico’s La Catrina sculpture Week: Día De Muertos at Rockefeller Center 2021 | Photo courtesy of Rockefeller Center

Until Friday 4 November
Downtown
For the second year, and in collaboration with the Consulate General of Mexico in New York, the Mexican Cultural Institute, Modern Art Museum, and more, Rockefeller Center is hosting a month-long celebration honoring Mexican culture and heritage. At Mexico Week: Día De Muertos at Rockefeller Center, discover a sumptuous ofrenda; sculptures of jaguars and skeletons by a Mexican artist Caesar Menchaca; and a posthumous art exhibition dedicated to the Mexican engraver Jose Guadalupe Posada. Plus, through Wednesday, November 2, browse an outdoor market featuring artisan goods, tequila drinks, and food vendors run by local businesses such as La Contenta and The Newyorkina.
Cost: Free for entry

Black Marigold Margarita at La Barca Cantina
Black Marigold Margarita at La Barca Cantina | Photo courtesy of La Barca Cantina

Tuesday 1 November, 6.30–9.30 p.m.
Pier 81
Climb aboard the three-level floating restaurant/bar from La Barca Canteen for an evening of offshore festivities at their first-ever Day of the Dead event. With the purchase of a ticket, guests will embark on a two-hour cruise along the Hudson River that includes live DJ sets, traditional Mexican dance performances, and art vendors, including the favorite room of Mermaid. On the food and beverage side, the menu will feature special Day of the Dead-themed cocktails and Mexican-inspired bites.
Cost:Tickets from $25

Ofrenda at the Queens Museum
Ofrenda at the Queens Museum | Photo courtesy of Queens Museum

Saturday October 29, 12 p.m.-4:30 p.m.
Flushing Meadows Corona Park
Located in Flushing Meadows Corona Park, the 50-year-old Queen’s Museum is home to one of the Big Apple’s most popular museum shows: Panorama of New York City. After checking it out, stop for a Dia de Los Muertos Celebrationnot in partnership with the La Jornada Cultural Pantry and Queen Museum and the Ecuadorian Film Festival in New York. The event offers guests exclusive film screenings, music and dance performances, artistic activities and a chance to contribute to the ofrenda. Highlights include a poetry reading by POÉTICAS – a poetry collective made up of creators from Mexico, Ecuador and Peru – as well as a mariachi performance by Nuevo Amanecer.
Cost: Free for entry

Sunday, October 30, 1-6 p.m.
Bed-Stuy
At the Day of The Dead-Indigenous Ancestral Festival in Brooklyn, the mission is to promote respectful tourism, community growth and emerging entrepreneurship in New York and around the world. Led by local initiatives, including the artist group run by donations from Collective focushere, community members gather for a welcoming and inclusive day of educational workshops, positive socializing, great meals, dancing and musical productions.
Cost: Free for entry

Flatiron Plaza
Flatiron Plaza | Photo courtesy of Flatiron NoMad Partnership

Wednesday, November 2, 12 p.m.-4 p.m.
Iron
From the neighborhood improvement organization of Flatiron NoMad Partnership comes the first-ever Día de Muertos celebration at the Flatiron Plaza. During the afternoon festivities, watch a dance performance by Clapulli Mexican Dance Company and also take part in hands-on activities such as decorating sugar skulls, carving and taking a selfie with a depiction of La Catrina, the Day of the Dead icon of the afterlife created by the artist Jose Guadalupe Posada— courtesy of Fotografiska Museum. Additionally, patrons can bring flowers, bread, and fruit to the on-site community altar.
Cost: Free for entry

Cocktails at the Cocteleria de los Muertos
Cocktails at the Cocteleria de los Muertos | Photo courtesy of The Garret Cocteleria

Until Wednesday 2 November
Nolita
Every year the popular hotspot, La Garret Cocteleria, transforms into an awe-inspiring, immersive holiday-themed experience called Coctelería de los Muertos. In the pop-up, expect an interior with intricate altars and hanging chains of marigolds as well as specials like libations such as Barry Marigold (tequila, carrot juice, agave). Chef’s dishes Yuval Ochao (Borrachito Taqueria & Spirits) include Pork Belly with Black Mole and Pan de Muertos and on Tuesday November 1 and Wednesday November 2, stop by the colorful bar for party nights and late-night DJ sets. Reservations are encouraged.
Cost: Free for entry

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Izzy Baskette is a writer for Thrillist New York. Find it on instagram.

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