Celebrate Día de los Muertos with 10 free and family friendly events this weekend

Young girls in dresses, face paint and garlands for Día de los Muertos (the Day of the Dead).
24th Street Theatre’s annual Día de los Muertos block party returns on Monday.
(Cindy Marie Jenkins)

Call it Día de los Muertos, call it Day of the Dead … just don’t call it “Mexican Halloween.” Here is our guide featuring 10 ways — all family-friendly, all free — to celebrate this happy/sad holiday for remembering those dearly departed. Before you go, remember to check online for reservation requirements and other COVID-19 protocols.

Kicking off at noon Sunday, festivities at LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes include crafting opportunities and cooking and gardening demos, plus performances by Ballet Folklorico Princesa Donaji, the Mariachi Conservatory and Aztec dance troupe Xipe Totec. Capping things off: An outdoor screening of Disney/Pixar’s animated 2017 film “Coco” at 6 p.m. LA Plaza, 501 N. Main St., downtown L.A.

The annual Día de los Muertos block party at 24th Street Theatre is also back. The celebration starts at 5:45 p.m. Monday with a ceremonial procession from Magnolia Avenue and West Adams Boulevard to the theater, followed at 6 p.m. by live music and dance performances headlined by Mexican rocker Jaime López. There’ll also be food and arts and crafts, as well as on-site COVID-19 vaccinations and health screenings. 24th Street Theatre, 1117 W. 24th St., and Hoover Street between 23rd and 25th streets, L.A. Procession: 5:45 p.m.; block party, 6 to 10 p.m. Monday.


Inspired by those found at Grand Park and the Hollywood Forever Cemetery around this time of the year, we’ve created our own communal digital altar.

Oct. 25, 2021

The venerable local institution Self Help Graphics & Art‘s 48th celebration features performers including L.A.-based bands Lucys and Introverted Funk, plus local street food vendors and access to the current gallery show “Everything Connected: Land, Body, Cosmos.” 1300 E. 1st St., Boyle Heights. 4 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

The annual Día de los Muertos Art Festival in Downey features live music and dance on two stages, plus arts and crafts, costume contests and a gallery show. Those who work up an appetite dancing can enjoy food trucks and a beer and wine garden. Downey Civic Theatre, 8435 Firestone Blvd., Downey. 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.

The community celebration at Santa Monica’s Third Street Promenade boasts arts and crafts activities, more than 30 local BIPOC vendors plus performances by Santa Monica Ballet Folklórico, Mariachi Perla del Oeste and others. Added bonus: a collection of supersize, skeletal “La Catrina” sculptures by L.A.-based artist Ricardo Soltero will be on display through Tuesday. 1351 Third Street Promenade, Santa Monica. 5 to 10 p.m. Saturday.

La Catrina sculpture in front of palm trees.
A series of La Catrina sculptures by local artist Ricardo Soltero is now on display at the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica.
(Downtown Santa Monica Inc.)

The 19th celebration at the Social & Public Art Resource Center — a.k.a. SPARC — features a community altar, an invocation ritual and a discussion of the holiday’s significance with UCLA Professor Martha Ramirez-Oropeza, plus local vendors selling tamales, Mexican hot chocolate and other tasty treats. 685 Venice Blvd., Venice. 5 to 7 p.m. Saturday. Free. Register at


Festivities on Olvera Street continue through Tuesday with hand-crafted altars, art exhibits, live entertainment and a nightly procession at 7. Olvera Street, 845 N. Alameda St., downtown L.A.

The public art installation Downtown Día de los Muertos, featuring 20 altars made by local advocacy organizations, remains on view through Tuesday. Grand Park, 200 N. Grand Ave., downtown L.A. Open daily from 5:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Free.

The San Fernando Cultural Arts Collective hosts the San Fernando Day of the Dead Community Festival featuring live music and dance, arts and crafts and more. San Fernando Recreation Park, 208 Park Ave., San Fernando. 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday.

Lastly, for those who’d prefer to stay home, a virtual Día de los Muertos celebration presented by Forest Lawn in Glendale includes performances by Ballet Folklorico Internacional and Mariachi Juvenil Herencia Mexicana. Noon to 1:30 p.m. Sunday. Free.

Día de los Muertos in downtown L.A., ‘Star Trek’ at the Skirball, Warhol at the Luckman, Hans Holbein at the Getty and ‘Witch Craft’ at Craft Contemporary

Oct. 2, 2021