The Day of the Dead Festival
Oct. 27 - 29, 2023 • 11 am - 5 pm
St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery
131 E 10th St, New York, NY 10003
Celebrate our beloved Day of the Dead tradition in New York City with art-making, live music, and more.
Day of the Dead (Día de Muertos) is a time to honor and revere our deceased family members and ancestors. This tradition is rooted in the native Mexican belief that life on earth is a preparation for the next world and of the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with the dead.
Celebrate the lives of family members and the community who have died. Join us and dedicate our ofrenda (altar) to your departed loved ones by placing copies of photographs, letters, notes, and names.
Live Music • Mexican Folk Art Market • Mexican Food
This event is free and open to the public.
The Day of the Dead at St. Mark's is outdoors, rain or shine. The scheduled activities are subject to change or cancelation if there are strong wind gusts, hail, or snow. For updates during the event, follow us on Twitter at @MexCulture.
Since 2005, We have celebrated the Day of the Dead in the East Yard of the historic St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery.
Atl Tlachinolli picture by Mari Uchida
Sugar skulls traditionally bear a person's name on the forehead. Picture by Nicky Conti
The bread of the dead or pan de muerto.
Atl Tlachinolli picture by Mari Uchida
Our past Day of the Dead celebrations.
About the Day of the Dead
DAY OF THE DEAD (Día de Muertos) has been an important celebration in Mexico since pre-Hispanic times. The Mexica [meˈxika] (Aztecs) memorialized their dead for two months in the summer: Miccailhuitontli (for children) and Hueymicailhuitl (for adults). Spaniards introduced the Catholic calendar and moved the practice of honoring the dead to All Souls Day, celebrated on November 2nd.
The tradition is rooted in the native Mexican belief that life on earth is a preparation for the next world and of the importance of maintaining a strong relationship with the dead. During this celebration, families gather in the cemetery to welcome the souls on their annual visit home. People prepare altars with traditional ephemeral elements for the season, such as cempasúchil (marigold) flowers, copal incense, fresh pan de muerto bread, candles, papel picado, and calaveras (sugar skulls). Photographs, mementos, and favorite items used by the departed are included.
The Mexica believed that when a person died, their teyolia, or inner force, went to one of several afterworlds, depending on how they died, their social position, and their profession (not by their conduct in life). There were special afterworlds for children, warriors, and women in labor, people who died by drowning, and all others. This practice still endures today, with special altars built for people who have died in accidental deaths, for deceased children, and for adults who have died a natural death. The Mexican diaspora has taken this tradition to celebrate it across borders. Mano a Mano continues this tradition by highlighting important contemporary themes and popular public figures.
The name of the holiday is Día de Muertos
In Mexico, the celebration is traditionally called Día de Muertos. However, in the U.S. and other English-speaking countries, it is often referred to as Día de los Muertos, which is a back-translation of the Day of the Dead into Spanish. We use the original name of the holiday.
Thank you to our Funders
The Day of the Dead is supported, in part, by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of the Office of Governor Kathy Hochul and the New York State Legislature; by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Mex-Am Cultural Foundation Inc.
Additional support is provided by St. Mark's Church in-the-Bowery, Copalli Mexican Folk Art, and Creatives Rebuild New York.
© 2020 Nicky Conti