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Altars, Catrinas, Parade, Dinner, Cemetery & More 2024

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Mexico's vibrant culture is a tapestry woven with threads of history, tradition, and spirituality. One of the most iconic and enchanting celebrations that capture the essence of Mexican culture is the "Dia de los Muertos" or the "Day of the Dead." This unique festival, celebrated throughout Mexico, has gained international recognition for its colorful and heartfelt tributes to the deceased. For those seeking an immersive cultural experience, Day of the Dead tours in Mexico offer a captivating journey into this mystical and joyous celebration.

Origin and Significance

The Day of the Dead, which takes place annually on November 1st and 2nd, traces its roots to pre-Columbian civilizations, particularly the Aztec, Maya, and Nahua cultures. This tradition melded with Catholicism when Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico, leading to a fusion of indigenous beliefs and Catholic practices. Today, the celebration reflects a profound belief in the continuity of life and the connection between the living and the departed.

Altars and Ofrendas

Central to the Day of the Dead celebration are the altars, known as "ofrendas." These meticulously crafted displays are erected in homes, cemeteries, and public spaces to honor departed loved ones. Day of the Dead tours provide an opportunity to witness the creation of ofrendas, adorned with marigold flowers, sugar skulls, candles, incense, and the deceased's favorite foods and possessions. These offerings are believed to guide the spirits back to the world of the living for a brief reunion.

Visiting Cemeteries

One of the highlights of Day of the Dead tours in Mexico is a visit to local cemeteries. Here, families gather to clean and decorate the graves of their ancestors, creating a visually stunning mosaic of color and emotion. The atmosphere is lively, with mariachi bands, traditional music, and joyful reminiscing about the departed. Tour participants have the privilege of witnessing these heartfelt moments and may even be invited to participate in the festivities.

Calaveras and Catrinas

Calaveras, or sugar skulls, and Catrinas, elegantly dressed skeletal figures, are iconic symbols of the Day of the Dead. These intricate and artistic creations can be found everywhere during the festival. Artisans create sugar skulls in various sizes and designs, and visitors on Day of the Dead tours can purchase their own from traditional vendors.  

Parades and Festivities

In recent years, Day of the Dead parades have gained popularity, particularly in Mexico City and Oaxaca. If you aren't thinking Pixar and James Bond right now then defiantly take our tour to learn why we have these images pop into our minds.   These processions feature elaborately costumed participants, giant puppets, and lively music. Travelers on Day of the Dead tours can join in the festivities, dancing alongside the locals, and marvel at the creativity and artistic expression on display.

Conclusion

The Day of the Dead is a celebration of life, love, and remembrance that has captivated the hearts of people worldwide. Mexico's rich cultural heritage and spiritual traditions shine brightly during this festival. Day of the Dead tours in Puerto Vallarta offer a unique opportunity to immerse oneself in this enchanting celebration, providing a deeper understanding of Mexican culture and a chance to participate in the vibrant rituals that honor the departed. Whether you're drawn to the captivating ofrendas, the lively cemetery gatherings, or the colorful parades, a Day of the Dead tour promises an unforgettable journey into the heart and soul of Mexico.

Our Day of the Dead Tours in Puerto Vallarta

We again present for Day of the Dead 2024, a selection of three distinguished tours,  meticulously curated to facilitate a comprehensive exploration of the revered Mexican Celebration of the Day of the Dead.  

October 31st  2024 - Day of the Dead - Halloween Tour 

November 1st 2024 - Day of the Dead - Childrens Day

November 2nd  2024 - Day of the Dead - All Souls Day

 

The main focus of our tours is to celebrate "All Saints Day" and "Day of the Dead" with the Mexican children who will be parading seeking candy and gifts.  Many Mexican children may be dressed in Costumes and "trick or treating" on the 31st.   We will also distribute candy on the 1st and 2nd of November following the lesser-known Day of the Dead tradition of "Calaverita."  We encourage our tour participants to pre-purchase large bags of candy to distribute.    Your load will lighten quickly, and the extent of candy procurement and subsequent dissemination directly contributes to the jubilance of local children, who, in turn, impart a profound sense of delight to your own soul.

We will meet in the 5th of December neighborhood in a local traditional Mexican restaurant where we will meet our guides and savor a traditional light refreshment of atole, chocolate, and pan de muerto.  During this time we will also enjoy presentations from our guides on the history of Day of the Dead.

Although Halloween is a day before the "traditional" start of the Day of the Day celebration there may be many families in the cemetery.  Some will be cleaning, repairing, and painting a gravesite.  Some families will be setting up their altars to be ready for the official holiday the following days.  And there may be other families who will simply start a day early to avoid the massive traffic headache that surrounds most cemeteries on November 1st and 2nd. 

It is only a 10 minute stroll from our meeting point to the local cemetery.  Upon arriving to the cemetery, our approach shall be marked by the utmost respect and reverence. Our seasoned Mexican guides, well-versed in the nuances of this poignant occasion, will sensitively liaise with bereaved families on occasion. They shall inquire whether it would be permissible for our tour group to pay homage to their departed loved ones by viewing their traditional offerings upon their familial altars, and, with gracious consent, relish the melodies of their music.  Just as their departed family members once delighted in the company of strangers during their lifetimes, the hosting families are generally eager to embrace this opportunity to welcome visitors in honor of their deceased kin. (No flash photography in the cemetery and please be sensitive to personal space and refrain from photographing people in the cemetery without clear and unequivocal approval from the subjects to do so.)

After visiting to the hallowed grounds of the cemetery, we shall circle the cemetery walls admiring the Day of the Dead themed murals.  We will then take a 10 minute walk further into the dark neighborhoods of forgotten Vallarta and visit a visually beautiful shrine worshiping death.  This is a cult with over 10 million followers in Mexico and Latin America and actually condemned by the Catholic Church.  Much of this cult's doctrine and rituals stem for ancient Day of the Dead practices.  

 

We will then make our way back to our restaurant, one that remains virtually untouched by tourist influence. Here, our discerning guests will savor a sumptuous and diverse traditional Day of the Dead multi course dinner, providing a profound sensory experience that deepens their connection to the cultural tapestry of Mexico. We will also enjoy additional talks of more focused aspects of Day of the Dead.  

After dinner we will make our way through downtown to the Malecon where we will have the best opportunity to interreact with Mexican children who will be all too eager to accept our gifts of sweets.  We will make our way through the concentration of Katrinas and Ofrendas at the "Civic Center" with our guides who will translate signs and messages associated with many of the alters that we will encounter all while offering commentary.  

As we bid adios to our tour at a local watering hole, our journey culminates with our goodbyes and reflection on our journey with time for question-and-answer with our guides.  

In summary, our Day of the Dead tours offer a profoundly immersive experience in which participants not only partake in the vibrant festivities of "All Saints Day" but also gain deep insights into the multifaceted traditions and rituals surrounding the Day of the Dead, all while savoring authentic cuisine and fostering meaningful connections with the local community.

Dinner Menu: 

Apéritif:  Welcome shot(s) of premium (Anejo) Tequila

All you can drink traditional Aqua Frescas - Jamaica and Horchata

Soup: Chicken Pozole 

Appetizer:  Chicken Tamale with Mole

Seafood item: Coconut Shrimp

Main Course: Mexican spiced rice, black beans, diced nopal, chicken with mole sauce

Dessert: Rice pudding

Digestif:  Pulque with fruits

ESSENTIALS

Timeline: (estimated)

  • Meet at 3:00PM

  • Lectures and welcome snack 3:00PM to 3:30PM

  • Walk and tour to cemetery 3:30:00PM to 5:30PM

  • Meal and lectures 5:30 to 7:00

  • Malecon walk for Katrinas and Ofrendas 7:00 to 8:00 PM.  

  • After tour goodbyes and toasts 8:00 PM 

  • Walking Difficulty: Easy (although be careful of cracked or broken sidewalks, steps)

  • Meet at 3:00 PM in the 5 Decembre Neighborhood.  (Exact location and directions will be sent in your confirmation email.) Finish around 8:00 PM. ​

  • Bring Pesos as many establishments are cash only.   

  • Tour includes guided trip, multi course dinner, Tequila shots, Jamaica and Horchata agua frescas, atole and pan de muerto, chocolate.  

  • Price is $129.00 usd per person plus VAT with prepaid reservation plus VAT. Earlybird reservations available at $99 for a limited time.  

  •  Price does not include customary tip for the adventure leaders. 

  • This tour carries a 14 day cancelation policy where by you can receive a refund less 10% of the full amount when you email to cancel outside of 14 days.  Inside 14 days you may transfer the reservation to another party only.  

  • For same day reservations you may also email us at info@puertovallartawalking.com to check if space is available for that day's tour. 

EXCLUDED:  Remember that each individual attendee is responsible for purchasing their own candy and treats to distribute during the Halloween and Day of the Dead festivities.  We recommend filling at least a backpack full for each person.  Those who can afford more please do.  We truly believe that the amount of joy and light shown upon your heart will be reflected proportionally by the amount of joy that you can bring to the local children.   

Puerto Vallarta Day of the Dead Tours 

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Day of the Dead & Halloween

Real Estate Agent for home purchases: Everado Alcaraz, Boardwalk Realty  

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