October 31st marks the beginning of Mexico’s “Dia de Los Muertos” celebration. Day of the Dead events honor the deceased with vibrant festivities through November 2nd. Elaborate altars welcome spirits with food and flowers as people visit cemeteries to decorate gravesites and spend time with the souls of their loved ones.
These celebrations originated with pre-Hispanic traditions dating back hundreds of years, including an Aztec festival honoring the goddess of the afterlife, Mictecacihuatl. As the cultures intertwined, The Day of the Dead evolved to include elements of Christianity, including prayers for the souls of the deceased. Rather than a morose occasion, Dia de Los Muertos is a celebratory holiday when the lives of those passed are commemorated. Whimsical skull decorations symbolize the cycles of life, death and rebirth. Experience the layers of history behind this UNESCO cultural heritage event in the land of its origins.
The “Dia de Los Muertos” Day of the Dead Tour begins in Oaxaca, Mexico, arriving at the Oaxaca airport, then checking into the La Noria Hotel. Attend a briefing with your tour guide to learn about the age-old traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead. Enjoy a welcome dinner and relax for the evening. See the full tour itinerary by clicking the link below.
Day 1 – Oaxaca (incl. dinner)
Arrive at the Oaxaca airport, then check in to the La Noria Hotel. Attend a briefing with your tour guide to learn about the age-old traditions surrounding the Day of the Dead. Enjoy a welcome dinner and relax for the evening.
Day 2 – Artisans and Graveyards (incl. breakfast, dinner)
Travel to Ocotlan to explore traditional markets, then continue to Coyotepec to take in the ornate trademark black pottery. Continue to the Tilcajate, a town famous for its “Alebrijes,” wood carvings of mystic figures. Finally, travel to Jalietza, where artisans create lovely and elaborate products of embroidered cloth. Enjoy a leisurely dinner at a local restaurant before visiting the cemeteries of Jalietza, where offerings and decorations adorn the gravestones and colorful Marigolds line the streets to welcome spirits for El Dia de Los Muertos.
Day 3 – Mitla, Teotitlan del Valle, Tule Tree, Masquerade Parade (incl. all meals)
After breakfast, visit Mitla, archeological site and “Place of the Dead.” Remarkable architecture and striking grecas still survive from this Mixtec ceremonial center’s construction around 800 A.D. In Teotitlan, see the production of woolen and woven goods, as well as the natural dye techniques used to color them. Then, visit a distillery to learn about and sample Mescal, made from blue agave. Return to Oaxaca by way of Santa Maria del Tule, location of El Árbol del Tule, the legendary Montezuma cypress. Reportedly over 2,000 years old, this magnificent tree measures 42 meters in diameter. In the evening, watch the Day of the Dead masquerade parade in San Jose del Mogote. People dressed in elaborate costumes of devils or skeletons dance from house to house receiving fruit and candy from the family’s altars.
Day 4 – Monte Albán, Guelaguetza (incl. breakfast, dinner)
In the morning, explore the ruins of Monte Albán, the empire on a hill that endured for over 1200 years. The remains of temples, pyramids, palaces and ball courts reveal a culture advanced in the time of its founding, around 500 B.C. Monte Albán is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and one of the most significant archaeological sites in Mesoamerica. In the evening, indulge in the customary foods of Oaxaca and see the Guelaguetza, traditional, folkloric dancers of Oaxaca.
Day 5 – Cuisine of Oaxaca (incl. all meals)
This day is dedicated to the flavorful and aromatic cuisine of Oaxaca. After breakfast, visit the Mercado Juarez to learn about the local ingredients, and then attend a lesson on the techniques of Oaxacan cooking. Relish your farewell dinner at a local restaurant.
Day 6 – Return Flight (incl. breakfast)
Say farewell with breakfast at the hotel then transfer to the airport.