Book a Private Jet Charter to Mexico for the Magical Day of the Dead Festival
Contrary to popular belief, the Day of the Dead (Dia de los Muertos) on November 1 and 2 isn’t Mexican Halloween. In fact, it’s a cultural event that dates back several millennia. According to Mexican folklore, spirits return once a year to reunite with their relatives. Festivities are held to lead loved ones home and honor their memories.
As such, the Day of the Dead was traditionally a solemn day of reflection rather than a raucous party. However, the holiday has evolved over the years into something more festive. Now, celebrations of every kind take place throughout Mexico, from intimate rituals to vibrant parades. We’ve assembled a list of the best places to celebrate the Day of the Dead this November. Fly by private jet charter with Air Charter Service (ACS) to spend less time traveling and more time experiencing Mexico’s most extraordinary festival.
1. Mexico City
Every November Mexico’s capital brims with Day of the Dead celebrations, but one neighborhood in particular holds a festival that wins the hearts of locals and tourists alike. The small village of San Andrés Mixquic in the southeast of Mexico City starts preparing for its celebration weeks in advance. The town church is decorated with an intricate altar comprised of colorful flowers and offerings for the dead. When night falls, the cemetery is transformed into a magical sight, with gravestones festooned in brightly-colored marigolds and lit by thousands of candles. Locals hold a vigil at the gravesites, lighting the way for their ancestors to find their way home.
Possibly the most famous Day of the Dead celebration in all of Mexico takes place in Michoacán, on the island of Janitzio in Lake Patzcuaro. The indigenous Purepecha people who live on the island have some of the most unique Day of the Dead traditions, including a midnight boatride ritual by candlelight. Locals decorate the cemeteries and hold vigil over their relatives’ graves until the sun comes up. The event is becoming more popular with tourists, but feels authentic nonetheless. With private jet charter you can fly from Mexico City to Michoacán in under an hour.
Scenic Oaxaca in Mexico’s far south hosts some of the largest and most vibrant celebrations in the country. If you can, arrive a couple days early to see locals decorating the cemeteries in advance of the all-night vigils. Processions called comparsas wind down the streets past countless Day of the Dead altars and beautiful sand tapestries. The markets are also fascinating to explore, as they sell all the supplies necessary to build a Day of the Dead altar. While you explore the markets, be sure pick up a piece of Oaxaca’s delicious Day of the Dead speciality, pan de muerto.
4. San Miguel de Allende
One of the most welcoming places for tourists to celebrate the Day of the Dead is San Miguel de Allende. The charming colonial city hosts a weeklong public party called the Festival La Calaca (Skull Festival). Festivities include extravagant parades, mezcal-fueled parties, art exhibitions and more. One of the most popular events is the Catrina Parade, thrown by the nearby Rancho Los Labradores community. Men and women alike don skull makeup for the festivities. Travelers are encouraged to get their faces painted and join the parade, too.
While the origins of the Day of the Dead go back thousands of years, the holiday’s most iconic image is just over a hundred years old. La Calavera Catrina – “the elegant skull” – was etched by Jose Guadalupe Posada between 1910 and 1913. Posada’s birthplace, the city of Aguascalientes, throws a fabulous annual festival filled with La Calavera Catrina imagery. From October 28 to November 2, the city’s fairgrounds host the Festival de las Calavera, or the “Festival of Skulls.” Visitors can experience the Day of the Dead through theater performances, concerts, traditional food stalls, extravagant costumes and skull-themed handicrafts.
6. Riviera Maya
As one of the most beautiful vacation destinations in Mexico, the Riviera Maya is known for its spectacular beaches and ancient ruins. Their Day of the Dead festival is held at Xcaret Park near Playa del Carmen from October 30 - November 2. Guests participate in traditional rituals, taste local cuisine, shop for arts and crafts and experience local art, theater and dance.