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Day of the Dead in Mexico City: Parade & Events 2024

Celebrating Day of the Dead in Mexico City is one of our favorite experiences to date! The official 2024 parade and events have yet to be announced, keep checking for updates.

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a special time of the year in Mexico. Mexicans welcome their departed loved ones back on Earth with their favorite foods, drinks and music. The iconic Mexican holiday is a vibrant and colorful celebration of death throughout Mexico.

It is in the capital, Mexico City, where the celebrations are the biggest, loudest and grandest. Mega ofrendas (altars) are erected in major squares and museums; while giant floats parade through the streets. Men, women and kids alike adorn beautiful skull paintings and enjoy food and drinks at the cemeteries to honor their deceased family. Dia de los Muertos is indeed the best time to visit Mexico.

We have celebrated the Day of the Dead in Mexico City and Oaxaca — they are definitely more extravagant in the country’s capital, though the Oaxaca Dia de Muertos celebrations felt more authentic and spiritual.  I’ve put together a detailed guide below with tips on where to see the parade, best events, and more.

day of the dead in mexico city

Table of Contents

Day of the Dead in Mexico City 2024

What is Dia de los Muertos?

The roots of the Day of the Dead go back some 3,000 years, to the rituals honoring the dead in pre-hispanic Mesoamerica. The Aztecs held a cyclical view of the universe, and saw death as an integral, ever-present part of life.

Day of the Dead is not a somber affair in Mexico — since the Aztec era, it has always been a lively celebration to honor the deceased. Today, Dia de Muertos is a blend of Mesoamerican ritual, European religion and Spanish culture. It’s definitely not the “Mexican version of Halloween.” 

The holiday was even added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage as “a defining aspect of Mexican culture.” It’s become one of the biggest Mexican holidays and celebrated with fervor all over the country. Read my ultimate Mexico Day of the Dead guide for more details.

How is Dia de los Muertos Celebrated?

Traditionally, Day of the Dead has always been a family affair. Families erect ofrendas (altar offerings) to honor their deceased family members. They then decorate the altar with candles, opal incense, marigold flowers, photos of the departed, and the favorite foods and drinks. 

These days, the celebrations have evolved over time but they’re still centered on Mexican traditions. Many museums in Mexico City display massive ofrendas, squares and avenues are lined with colorful alebrije animals and calaveras (skulls), while every shop and restaurant is decorated with papel picado (paper flags). Every single item on the altar and in cemeteries represents something — read my piece on Day of the Dead symbols and their meaning.

On the streets, you’ll see many people dressed as La Catrina, with beautiful face paint and floral headbands. Get your face painted, put on a flower head-band, and prepare for one hell of a party!

dia de muertos altar offering in mexico city

Why Celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Mexico City?

Mexico City is one of the best places to celebrate Day of the Dead as it goes over the top with its celebrations. Everything is big in terms of the scale of parades, ofrendas and cemetery gatherings. The large-scale celebrations might not be as traditional as those in smaller cities and towns, it makes for a great introduction to this Mexican holiday.

Compared to Oaxaca, it’s easier and cheaper to fly to Mexico City from many parts of the world. Even at the last minute, you’ll still find flights and accommodation in Mexico City that won’t burn a hole in your pocket. Plus, there are tons of interesting attractions and museums in Mexico City to explore and the nearby Teotihuacan pyramids to visit. Check out my Mexico City itinerary.

We have also celebrated Day of the Dead in Oaxaca and definitely saw some differences. The celebrations in Oaxaca are smaller scale and more intimate, night-long vigils at the cemetery are immensely spiritual and the parades are more traditional. Read my guide to celebrating Dia de muertos in Oaxaca and check out our Oaxaca road trip itinerary.

When is Dia de los Muertos?

In Mexico City, Day of the Dead can be a week-long affair, with events starting as early as 22 October, and culminating on 1 and 2 November. I suggest arriving around 26 October and staying till 4 November. That way, you’ll have enough time to see all the city’s attractions, join in the events and do some day trips from Mexico City.

The highlight of the festivities in Mexico City is undoubtedly the parade, or Desfile de Día de Muertos, that takes place through the historic center. The date of the parade is usually announced at the last minute, but it usually falls on the closest Saturday to 1/2 November. Last year, it was held on 4 November 2023 at 12pm.

Throughout the week, there will be non-stop events happening all over the city, from parades to street parties, outdoor markets, display of mega ofrendas, and food festivals. With so much festivities going on, Day of the Dead is definitely the best time to visit Mexico City.

skull face painting at dia de muertos  catrina in mexico city at day of the dead

When to Start Planning Your Day of the Dead Trip?

Many people travel around Mexico at Day of the Dead . I would recommend booking your flights and accommodation as early as April or May. 

When I searched for flights in September, return flights from Cancun to Oaxaca were already very expensive (US$300+). Thankfully flights to Mexico City were still affordable in September. I ended up paying only US$70 for our return flights from Cancun to Mexico City.

There are direct flights to Mexico City from many major cities in the US, including New York, Miami, Los Angeles, and Atlanta. You can get return flights as cheap as US$300. Note that many domestic airlines in Mexico charge for carry-on luggage, so be sure to check your booking before flying. Search for flights here.

casa de azulejo in mexico city  

Book a Day of the Dead Tour

If you’d like to visit a cemetery but want to do so with a guide, I recommend taking these tours. They will take care of the logistics and give you a great overview of Dia de Muertos traditions.

  • 30Oct – 4Nov: Dead of the Dead Tour by G Adventures — For a full Dia de Muertos experience, join this tour for six days and experience all the events I mentioned above with a guide and small group.
  • 1 Nov: Day of the Dead Tour in Mexico City — This tour brings you to a cemetery (not Mixquic) and takes you on a trajinera (gondola) through the Xochimilco canals.

Mexico Travel Requirements

No matter how long you are traveling Mexico for, I always recommend travelers to buy travel insurance. You never know if you’re going to lose your luggage or your flight gets delayed. We have been compensated by our insurance company when we had our valuables stolen and flights canceled. Read my travel insurance guide. Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan, which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date.
See also  15 Day of the Dead Symbols & Traditions

Where to Stay During Day of the Dead in Mexico City

The Centro Histórico (historic center) is a convenient location to stay, as most attractions, events and the parade take place here. We loved the location of our hotel, but I’d recommend staying at a hotel on the Paseo de la Reforma, where the parade takes place.

Here is a summary of my hotel recommendations. For a full guide, check out my post on where to stay in Mexico City.

  • Hampton Inn & Suites — We stayed at this hotel in the historic center and loved the location, just two blocks from the main square (Zocalo). Highly recommend it for families who need extra space.
  • Hotel Zocalo Central — Right next to the Cathedral overlooking the Zocalo (main square), this centrally located hotel is housed in a 1890s building and features a gorgeous design. Their rooftop restaurant is my favorite place to eat in Mexico City.
  • The St Regis Mexico City — Located along the famous Paseo de la Reforma, this luxurious hotel offers excellent views of the Day of the Dead parade. Its rooftop restaurant also offers a special buffet lunch during Day of the Dead.
  • Mexico City Marriott Reforma Hotel — Also overlooking Paseo de la Reforma, this is an affordable hotel to stay within walking distance of the Angel of Independence monument and many Day of the Dead events.
  • Fiesta Americana Reforma — This is the cheapest option for accommodation along Paseo de la Reforma. It’s got great reviews and rooms look spacious and comfortable. 

How to Get around Mexico City at Day of the Dead 

Day of the Dead is a popular time to visit Mexico City, so expect crowds and crazy traffic in many parts of the city! This year, over 3 million tourists poured into Mexico City for Dia de Muertos.

If you’re staying in the historic center, it’s easy to get around on foot. To get outside of the centre, we usually took Uber — though I wouldn’t recommend doing that on the day of the parade (as many roads are closed). 

Alternatively, the metro system in Mexico City works well and it’s the cheapest way to get around. Note that certain metro stations in Mexico City are closed during the parade. This year, the stations Zócalo-Tenochtitlán y Pino Suárez (line 1 and 2) will be closed on 31 October.

Palacio de bellas artes in Mexico city

How to Stay Connected in Mexico City

Internet in Mexico City is pretty fast and reliable, and you can get WiFi in most hotels and guesthouses. To get internet on the go, I recommend getting an eSIM before traveling. With a Mexico eSIM (digital SIM card), you can toss out your physical cards and simply activate it on your phone through an app! I have bought many eSIMs on Airalo and they have all worked perfectly. Airalo is the world’s first eSIM store. Check out Airalo’s Mexican eSIMs

You can also get a SIM card at the airport upon arrival or at any OXXO shop in Mexico. A SIM card itself costs between 29 and 149 pesos (around $1-6 USD). You can get 3GB of data valid for 30 days on the sin limite plan (unlimited) for 200 pesos (~8 USD.) That will also give you unlimited calls, texts, and most social media within North America.

Read my guide on how to get a SIM card in Mexico.

Mexico City Practical Resources

Is It Safe to Visit Mexico City at Day of the Dead?

Read my article: Is Mexico City Safe to Visit ? In short, my husband, daughter and I all felt super safe in Mexico City and had no security issues at all. 

Yes it was crowded everywhere, especially during the parade; but we kept our belongings close to us, brought minimal cash with us, and had no problems. Of course, we avoided seedy areas, and we weren’t hanging out late at night or getting drunk on the streets.

All in all, stick to the tourist areas and you’ll be fine (that means centro historico, Roma, Condesa, Coyoacan and Xochimilco). Avoid areas like Iztapalapa, Tepito, La Lagunia, Mercado Merced, Doctores and Ciudad Neza.

the crowd during the mexico city day of the dead parade

How to Dress for Dia de Muertos

Everywhere you go in Mexico City during the Day of the Dead, you’ll see people dressed like La Catrina, an iconic character made famous by artist Jose Guadalupe Posada in order to bring elegance and a sense of aristocracy to the celebration. These days, the classy skeleton lady has become the symbol of Dia de los Muertos.

As mentioned, Dia de los Muertos is not the Mexican Halloween — please leave your sexy nurse or superhero costumes at home! Most people wear black dresses or simple Mexican embroidered floral dresses. You can find them at many markets and in local shops within the historic center for cheap. I got my black off-shoulder Mexican top for just $5.

Be sure to read my guide on what to pack for Mexico for more details. day of the dead in mexico city - how to dress

Where to Get Face Painted 

There are usually tons of makeup artists with temporary stands. A face paint costs around 100 Pesos ($5) and takes 15-20 minutes. Go at around 10am — otherwise you’ll be in line for awhile. We waited in line for 45 minutes for our turn! They usually have a book of designs to choose from, or you can show them what you want on your phone.

Here are some places to find face painters:

  • Zocalo (next to the Templo Mayor)
  • Alameda Central (at the end of the park)
  • Coyoacan Jardin Centenario
  • Bosque Chapultepec (next to Castillo Chapultepec)

Dia de los Muertos Traditions 

To get you acquainted with Dia de los Muertos terminology, here’s a list of traditions that are commonly practiced during this holiday. Read my guide to Day of the Dead symbols for more details.

  • Calaveras — Skulls are ubiquitous during Day of the Dead. The skulls are often drawn with a smile as to laugh at death itself. 
  • La Catrina — An emblematic character that represents Dia de Muertos. She’s a classy skeletal lady created by Jose Guadalupe Posada in order to bring elegance and a sense of aristocracy to the celebration. 
  • Alebrijes — Brightly colored Mexican folk art sculptures of fantastical (fantasy/mythical) creatures. In Mexico, they’re considered the creatures from the realm of the dead.
  • Ofrendas — Altar offerings that every family in Mexico sets up in their home for the dead. The altar usually includes photos of deceased family members, their favorite food, candles, copal and marigold flowers.
  • Sugar Skulls — The quintessential Day of the Dead treat. This water and sugar based treat represents the merging of Pre Hispanic culture with the Spanish custom of molding.
  • Pan de Muertos — This traditional Mexican dessert is eaten only during Dia de Muertos. It’s a sweetened soft bun decorated with bone-shaped phalanges pieces. The bones represent the deceased, and they’re represented in a circle to portray the circle of life.
  • Cempasuchil — Iconic orange marigold flowers that adorn every altar on the Day of Dead. Their petals are laid out as walkways for the dead to find their way on earth so they may be reunited with their loved ones.
  • Papel Picado — A colorful string of flags that lights up a room or a whole street. It’s made up of fine color paper cuttings, showing images associated with the Day of the Dead.
an ofrenda or altar for day of the dead

Mexico City Day of the Dead Parade & Events 

There are so many Day of the Dead events in Mexico City that you’ll need to spend at least a week in Mexico City to experience them all. We spent 6 days in Mexico City and wished we could stay longer!

Try to arrive in Mexico City as early as 26 October, as you’ll get to see preparations for the holidays underway. Here’s a list of the 2023 Day of the Dead events in chronological order.

*Event announcements are usually made at the last minute and I will keep updating the article, so check back often for latest updates.

6 Oct – 12 Nov: La Llorona in Xochimilco

A special Dia de Muertos event, La Llorona is a musical show staged on the floating islands of Xochimilco (well known for the Aztec-era canal system). To see the show, you’ll need to take a trajinera (boat) and weave through the canals in the dark. There are shows available every weekend from 6 Oct to 12 Nov 2023 and daily shows during the week between 29Oct to 2Nov 2023.

See also  Who is the Day of the Dead Catrina?

La Llorona is a famous character in Mexican folklore. She’s ‘the weeping lady’ who spends eternity crying for the children she lost. This musical tells the origins of the story and it’s an impressive display of Nahuatl music and pre-Hispanic traditions. Plus the natural setting amidst the canals and forest is absolutely atmospheric.

It gets rather cold at night on the water, so make sure to bring a jacket. There are vendors on boats selling beer, hot elote (roasted corn) and tamales. There’s even a boat with portable toilets that you can use for 10 pesos.  It’s wise to book through Viator as hotel transfers are included (we had a hard time getting an Uber home).

When: 7pm

Where: Embarcadero de Cuemanco, Xochimilco

How: Buy your tickets here

Cost: US$70

xochimilco gondola - mexico city

21 Oct: Alebrije Parade from  Museo de Arte Populare

One of our favorite museums in Mexico City, the Museo de Arte Popular is a beautiful Art Deco space devoted to the weird and wonderful folk art traditions of Mexico. The museum has a massive collection of alebrije sculptures: gigantic and fantastical animal figures like flies with dragon tails and multi-headed lions, all painted with neon colors. Read more on alebrijes here.

An alebrije parade and contest will take place on Saturday, 21 October 2023 at 12:00p, starting from the Zocalo, continuing along Avenida 5 de Mayo, then Paseo de la Reforma, ending at the Angel de la Independencia.

If you can’t go on the day of the event, don’t worry, because the participating alebrijes will remain on display between the Angel and the Diana the Huntress from 21 October to 5 November .

When: 12pm

Where: Zócalo -> Avenida 5 de May -> Paseo de la Reforma -> Campo Marte

Cost: Free

day of the dead at museo de arte popular museo de arte popular - alebrije

22 Oct – 2Nov: Jean Paul Gaultier Ofrenda

A major ofrenda worth visiting in Mexico City is the Jean Paul Gaultier ofrenda, which pays tribute to the Mexican culture. He designs an altar based on a different theme and it’s placed at different locations every year. The 2023’s location has yet to be disclosed.

In 2022, the ofrenda was mounted on the steps of the 5-star Sofitel México City Reform, an imposing old mansion of Porfirian architecture built in 1938. Through the hand of different artisans in the country, the French designer showed characteristic elements of his brand, such as perfume bottles in the shape of a torso and even calacas with the clothing of the marinière of Gaultier. The installation and the altar was open to the public from October 22 to November 2.

When: 11am to 1am

Where: Paseo de la Reforma 297

Cost: Free

jean paul gaultier ofrenda - day of dead mexico city
2022 Jean Paul Gaultier altar – Credit: Sofitel Reforma

22 Oct: Mega Procesion de las Catrinas

It has been officially announced that there would be a massive procession of the Catrinas, a separate event from the official parade. Anyone can actually participate and march along the Paseo de la Reforma. This year, it will start at 18.45 at Angel de la Independencia. Follow the event FB page for details.

When: 6.45pm

Where: Paseo de la Reforma

Cost: Free

procession de catrina - mexico city day of the dead

27 – 29Oct:  Cempasúchil Festival

One of the first events to kickoff the celebrations, the Festival de Cempasuchil showcases the beautiful marigold flowers, one of the greatest Day of the Dead symbols.

Cempasuchil is called “Flor de Muerto” (Spanish for Flower of Dead) and it symbolizes the beauty and fragility of life. The flower’s vibrant colors and scent attract the departed souls, as they return to feast on their favorite foods.

When: 10am to 8pm

Where: Explanada de la Alcadia

Cost: Free

28 Oct – 4 Nov: Ornate Ofrenda at Museo Frida Kahlo

In the week leading up to Day of the Dead, many major Mexico City museums will already have their ofrendas on display. One of the best ofrendas is at the Museo Frida Kahlo (also known as Casa Azul or Blue House), dedicated to one of the most famous Mexican artists of all time. 

Housed in the home where she was born and raised, the museum showcases Frida’s life and work. Tickets are sold out weeks in advance during holidays, so make sure to book your tickets in advance. (You’ll not be allowed in without a pre-booked ticket!)

When: 10am to 5pm (closed on Mondays)

Where: Museo de Frida Kahlo, Coyoacan

Cost: 250 pesos

frida kahlo museum at day of the dead

28 Oct – 4 Nov: Ornate Ofrenda at Museo Anahuacalli

Another museum with an impressive ofrenda is the Anahuacalli Museum, dedicated to Frida Kahlo’s husband Diego Rivera. He was an accomplished artist and had an impressive collection of pre-Hispanic artwork which are all on display here.

This year’s ofrenda was completely purple, shrouded in a dark but sexy atmosphere.

When: 11am to 5.30pm (closed on Mondays)

Where: Museo de Anahuacalli, Coyoacan

Cost: 100 pesos (free with the Frida Kahlo Museum ticket)

anahualli museum in mexico city anahualli museum in mexico city

28 Oct – 7 Nov: Mexicraneos Exhibition 

Stretching cross Paseo de la Reforma, Mexicraneos is an exhibition of monumental skulls where traditional and modern art come together. Every year, around 55 skulls are on display along the broad avenue.

When: 7am to 7pm

Where: Paseo de la Reforma, from Angel of Independence to the Glorieta de la Palma

Cost: Free

mexicraneo - day of the dead mexico city

28 October – 2 November: Megaofrenda of Zócalo

In the Zocalo (main square) of the historic center, you’ll find the biggest ofrenda in Mexico City. The 2021 ofrenda was dedicated to the victims of COVID19.  It also took the form of map of Mexico City, with each of the 16 boroughs represented in different ways. Also at the Zocalo were sculptures of alebrijes and La Catrina that were on display for their annual competition.

When: 12 to 8pm

Where: Zocalo, main square of historic center

Cost: Free

zocalo mexico city during day of the dead alebrije in zocalo mexico city

28 Oct – 2 Nov: Iluminando Almas  Night Walk in Bosque Chapultepec

Every Day of the Dead, the lush city park, Bosque Chapultepec, gets lit up with candles to receive the deceased. From 28 Oct to 2 Nov, 7-10pm, there will be walks departing from the Puerta de los Leones. The experience will include colors, aromas and music related to the Mexican tradition of the Day of the Dead.

Iluminando Almas, meaning “iluminating souls” has the purpose of accompanying the dead on their journey home, with food and music to make the transit easier. Last year, we missed the night walk, but we did see the ofrenda in the day and it was gorgeous! There are also museums and castles to visit within the park, check out my list of best museums in Mexico City.

When: 7 to 10pm

Where: Puerta de Leones, Bosque Chapultepec

Cost: Free

ofrenda in bosque chapultepec mexico city

28 Oct – 3 Nov: Ofrendas at Alameda Central

The lush green park of Alameda Central in the historic center will also play host to plenty of activities including beautiful ofrendas, murals, and performances. 

Created by local communities, the Dia de Muertos artwork on display are gorgeous, especially the tzompantli (skull rack). There are also cultural dances and musical performances all weekend long. 

The park is located next to Paseo de la Reforma, where the parade takes place. The lush green lawn and water fountains provide a great respite from the crowd. We came here after the parade to lie on the lawn, rest and soak in the atmosphere!

When: 11am to 6pm

Where: Alameda Central, historic center

Cost: Free

giant ofrenda in alameda central ofrenda in alameda central mexico city tzompatli skull rack mexico city

28  Oct – 2 Nov: Pan de Muertos Festival

During Dia de Muertos, it’s traditional to eat the pan de muertos, a sweetened soft bun decorated with bone-shaped phalanges pieces. The bones represent the deceased, and the buns are round to signify the circle of life. There is also a baked tear drop on the bread to represent goddess Chimalma’s tears for the living.

The Festival del Pan de Muerto is a new event inaugurated this year. From 29 Oct to 2 Nov, vendors from all over Mexico gather at Plaza San Jeronimo in Centro Historico to serve different kinds of pan de muerto (which cost around 10-50 pesos), along with steaming cups of hot chocolate. 

When: 11am to 8pm

Where: Plaza San Jeronimo

Cost: Free entry

pan de muerto - day of the day tradition

28 Oct – 2 Nov: Coyoacan Festival

In the bohemian borough of Coyoacan (about a 20-minute drive south of downtown), you’ll find some of the biggest Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City. 

Coyoacan is one of my favorite parts of Mexico City — it retains its village vibes, with narrow colonial-era streets, cafes and a lively atmosphere. During Day of the Dead, its main plazas (squares) are brimming with festivities: cultural performances, street markets, food stands, and ornate ofrendas.

Here are some events in Coyoacan:

  • 30 Oct 7pm: Choir performance at the atrium in front of the Parroquia de San Juan Bautista
  • 31 Oct 10am-6pm: Artisan market
  • 1 Nov 10am-6pm: Kids’ workshop to write calaveritas (poems)
  • Nightly walking tour: A special tour run by the municipality that will bring you through hidden alleyways, colonial buildings, and secret locations throughout the center of Coyoacán. Cost: 280 pesos.
ofrenda in coyoacan mexico city catrina figures in coyoacan mexico city a massive ofrenda in coyoacan

28 Oct – 2 Nov: Lucha Libre Dia de Muertos Show 

On the weekend leading up to 2 Nov, there are special Dia de Muertos fights at Arena Mexico. The ring gets transformed into the “Templo Mayor de Lucha Libre” with all the wrestlers in disguise.

See also  Christmas in Mexico: Traditions & Celebrations 2024

This is a great opportunity to catch a Lucha Libre show while in Mexico City. We’re not wrestling fans, but even my 6-year-old daughter enjoyed the show! Tickets are cheap (less than US$10), and we got them at the ticket booth. Book them in advance to ensure availability.

When: 7.30pm and 8.30pm (Sunday shows are family-friendly)

Where: Arena Mexico

Cost: From 150 pesos

lucha libre in mexico city

29 – 30 Oct : Aquelarre Witch festival at Teotihuacan

Celebrate Day of the Dead at the Aquelarre Witch Festival, where you can dance to the rhythm of pagan folk music and participate in costume contest. There will be a bazaar where you can find brooms, amulets, tarot, oracles, bundles of herbs, essences, witches’ chests, magic wands, and many more magical things. The event takes places at the Club Campestre Teotihuacán field, next to the Teotihuacan pyramids which will turn into a magical festival of lights during Day of the Dead in Mexico City. Book your light show tickets here.

When: 29 Oct 12pm to 8pm; 30 Oct 11am to 5pm

Where: Club Campestre Teotihuacán

Cost: From 250 pesos

30  Oct – 2 Nov:  Calaverita Museum  in Mixquic

The Calaverita Museum in Mixquic (famous for its cemeteries) only opens 4 days in a year to showcase its unique skull sculptures made of reed, wire and paper. They also put up a show with over 30 skull puppets on stage, dancing to the rhythm of the neon lights. If you’re planning to go to Mixquic for the all-night cemetery vigil, it’s a good idea to come early and see this museum.

When: 9am to 2pm

Where: Calle 20 de Noviembre 24, Mixquic

Cost: 20 pesos

1 – 2 Nov: Cemetery Visits

On the last two days of the Dia de Muertos, you’ll find the cemeteries at their most festive as families gather to celebrate the dead. Night-long cemetery vigils are a common Day of the Dead tradition. Families will often decorate the panteon (cemetery) with marigold flowers, candles, and food — sometimes they play music, enjoy food and drinks here all through the night. Read here to find out what each of the Dia de los Muertos symbols mean.

Of all the cemeteries in Mexico City, the most famous one for Dia de Muertos rituals is San Andres Mixquic. Mixquic has the largest Day of the Dead celebrations and it attracts thousands of visitors each year. It’s said that Mixquic was the inspiration behind the cemetery in the movie, Coco.

However, it takes around 2 hours to get to Mixquic from Mexico City. And with the huge crowds that pour into Mixquic, it can be very difficult to get an Uber to return to Mexico City. The most convenient way to get there is to join a group tour (scroll down for details).

mixquic cemetery during dia de los muertos

Things to Note about Cemetery Visits

To prevent overcrowding, many of the cemeteries in Mexico City will be opened for limited time only or closed completely. The Mixquic cemetery only allows visitors at 80% capacity. We didn’t go to Mixquic as it’s a 2-hour drive outside of Mexico City.

Instead, we went to Panteón San Jose just outside of the historic center and it was such a surreal experience. The cemetery was filled with locals offering flowers, candles and traditional Mexican foods to their loved ones. Hundreds of flickering candles and burning incense, and traditional music in the backdrop. There were also plenty of street food carts, games stores, and a carnival-like atmosphere just outside the cemetery.

It’s important to remember that you’re at a burial site. Even though the atmosphere in the cemeteries are lively and festive, remember to be respectful. Don’t touch any of the graves or displays, and don’t sit on them.

locals praying in cemetery at dia de muertos mexico city

**4 Nov: Parade in the Historic Center**

The biggest event during Day of the Dead in Mexico City is the desfile or parade. Catrinas with oversized skull heads, brightly colored alebrijes (spirit animals), and massive floats take to the streets of the historic center. The parade usually takes place on the Saturday before 1 November. This year’s dates have just been announced: it will be on 4th November 2023 at 12pm.

It’s no secret that the Day of the Dead parade is not an old tradition — it began only in  2016, and said to have been inspired by the James Bond film, Spectre. Last year’s parade saw over 1 million spectators, according to the local news. If you want a front row view, definitely come and stake out a spot 2 hours early! We got there exactly when it started, but still managed to see the parade on tippy toes.

This year, the parade goes on a different route, beginning at the Puerta de Leones in Chapultepec Park. It then proceeds along Paseo de la Reforma until proceeding eastward on the Avenida Hidalgo. It then ends at the Zócalo in the heart of the city, with fireworks, a drone light show and a concert by Ángela Aguilar.

Route: Puerta de Leones -> Paseo de la Reforma -> Avenida Hidalgo -> -> Calle 5 de May Avenida Plaza de la Constitución -> Zócalo(see the full route here)

When: 12 to 4.30 pm

Where: Puerta de Leones to Zocalo

Cost: Free

Best Rooftop Bars to see the Parade

If crowded places scare you, there are actually quite a few rooftop restaurants that offer amazing views of the Day of the Dead parade. These rooftop restaurants get fully booked for Dia de Muertos, so be sure to call and reserve a table months in advance. Here’s a summary; make sure to check out my full list of best rooftop bars in Mexico City!
  • Balcon de Zocalo — A stylish rooftop restaurant overlooking the Zocalo with spectacular views over the main square.
  • Puro Corazon — One of the best traditional restaurants in the historic center, also overlooking the Zocalo.
  • La Casa de las Sirenas Facing the Zocalo and Templo Mayor, this gorgeous rooftop restaurant is located in a a 16th-century building with an old-world ambiance.
  • Terraza Cha Cha Cha —  Overlooking the Revolution Monument, this chic rooftop bar dishes up contemporary Mexican dishes and well crafted cocktails.
  • Cityzen Rooftop Kitchen — An upscale rooftop restaurant boasting unparalleled views of the Paseo de la Reforma, serving French and Mexican cuisine.
  • Sears Rooftop Cafe — Best view over the Palacio de Bellas Artes, where you can see a bit of the parade. They don’t take reservations. We came here after the parade and waited only 20 minutes to get a table.
view from balcon de zocalo kaleya at balcon de zocalo mexico city

Final Tips for Day of the Dead in Mexico City

      • Be respectful of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations. This Mexican holiday celebrates the deceased with centuries-old traditions. Have fun and join in the celebrations, but don’t get drunk or high on the streets.
      • Tourists are welcome to visit the cemeteries during Day of the Dead, but please do not touch anything on the altars or sit on tombstones.
      • Avoid taking photos of people, or ask for permission before taking. Do not use flash at night.
        • Most places still only accept cash, so carry cash with you at all times.

      Enjoy Day of the Dead in Mexico City!

      Without a doubt, this trip to Mexico City for Dia de Muertos completely blew our minds. Mexico City is definitely one of the best places to celebrate Day of the Dead, with massive parades, Catrina processions, and albebrijes taking over its streets. The entire city has a carnival atmosphere and the festive spirit runs high.

      I hope this guide to the Day of the Dead in Mexico City will help you plan your trip for next year. Let me know if you have any questions in the comments field below.

      For those who are planning to travel more of Mexico, check out other articles I’ve written on Mexico:
      Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links i.e. if you book a stay through one of my links, I get a small commission at NO EXTRA COST to you. Thank you for your support!

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      85 thoughts on “Day of the Dead in Mexico City: Parade & Events 2024”

      1. Wow! This post is amazing! Thank you for sharing all you know about this amazing festivities. I have a question for you – we are planning to celebrate The day of the dead in Oaxaca this year (2022), do you think/know if it will be possible? Or will it be cancelled this year as well? Do you know anything?
        BR Christina

        1. hi Christina, thanks for the kind words! Yes I think it’ll be going as planned. My friend was in Oaxaca for Day of the Dead in 2021 and there were still lots of celebrations going on. I’m confident there’ll be more celebrations in 2022. I plan to go there this year for Dia de Muertos too! 🙂

          1. Are there festivals and parades through out the week or just that weekend before? We plan on going from Nov 1st through Nov 6th (Tuesday through Sunday) so seeing if we would miss everything entirely or not.

              1. Check out the event schedule above, I’ve just updated it with the latest dates announced by the authorities. They usually release the schedule at the very last minute (last year’s was only released in mid October), but they’ve said the parade will be on Monday 31 October at 12pm.

          2. I was reading your blog about Dia de los Muertos in Mexico City. Is there going to be a parade in Coyoacan? Where and what time? Please respond as I want to purchase tickets to Frida museum for same time.
            thanks – Linda Garcia

            1. hi Linda, thanks for the comment! I don’t think there’s usually a parade in Coyoacan for Dia de Muertos, but there will be an outdoor market, fun fair, food fair, and lots of celebrations throughout 29 Oct to 2 Nov.

      2. Hello! This page has been absolutely priceless for information. Thank you so much for the in depth advice and tips! I’m planning a short trip to Mexico City solely to see the parade – do you have any advice on what days/activities to do in just 1 or 2 days and which dates would you say are the most important ones please? Thank you! <3

        1. hi Shellja, thanks for the kind words! Glad you find this piece useful. Woo if you’re only going for 1 or 2 days, definitely time your trip to coincide with the parade. If it’s anything like last year, the parade will take place on 31 October at 12pm. Announcements for events are usually made at the very last minute, but I will keep updating this article whenever I hear any news. The highlights are the megaofrenda at the Zocalo, Alameda Park, the Coyoacan Festival, and the parade.

          1. Since October 31 is on a Monday this year, do you think there will be parades/events during the weekend, or will the big parade still take place on Monday? Thanks so much for the great article!

            1. hi Lisa, there will definitely be lots of events during the weekend for sure. I think the big parade might take place on the Sunday October 30 instead. They usually announce the program at the very last minute, so I suggest booking at least 1 week in CDMX to be able to see all the events.

            2. Such good info, thank you! We’ve book our adventure to experience this year.

              Where can I find the date and time for Mexico city parade 2022? I’m finding many dates posted, but all conflicting.

              Thank you

              1. Hi Katie, great to hear! Check out the event schedule above, I’ve just updated it with the latest dates announced by the authorities. They usually release the schedule at the very last minute (last year’s was only released in mid October), but they’ve said the parade will be on Monday 31 October at 12pm.

      3. Hello,
        Is this the 2022 schedule of events? How many parades will there be in CDMX on the main street?
        Thank you,

        1. hi Dina, this is the rough schedule based on 2021. They usually announce the schedule at the last minute, a week or two before Dia de los Muertos. But it should be roughly the same. In CDMX, there is just one Day of the Dead major parade along Paseo Reforma; it lasts for hours and goes through a big part of the city center. But besides that, there are many small parades and events all over the city.

      4. Wow! This post is the best information and inspiration on Mexico Day of the Dead I’ve ever read. Thank you for all of this work I will be saving it for my upcoming trip!

      5. Hi, Visting for Dia De Los Muertos is a bucket list. This is a high interest and I would like to find the best packages if available of where to stay during these events. I am looking for solid event schedule so I can start making arrangements. Thanks.

        1. hi Saul, I’ve included my hotel recommendations above with links to each hotel. Check out the event schedule above, I’ve just updated it with the latest dates announced by the authorities. They usually release the schedule at the very last minute (last year’s was only released in mid October), but they’ve said the parade will be on Monday 31 October at 12pm.

      6. Hi, I want to come down here with my Mexico-facinated 9 year old and am trying to decide the best 5 days to do so! Any suggestions? 27-1? 28-2? Do you have any idea where to find this year’s schedule info?? I google but find nothing.

        1. hi Katrina, thanks for the comment! Your kid would love it! We had such a blast with our daughter there! I suggest arriving on the 27th October because a lot of ofrendas will be up by then and many activities start on 28th. Check out the event schedule above, I’ve just updated it with the latest dates announced by the authorities. They usually release the schedule at the very last minute (last year’s was only released in mid October), but they’ve said the parade will be on Monday 31 Oct at 12pm.

      7. Why you guys moved the date of the parade to the 31st if was gonna be the 30th of October , We are going from the USA and had scheduled tickets for return ☹️

        1. hi Jose, sorry to hear that you’re going back before the parade! The city authorities decide the dates, and only just announced it (I’m just a travel writer). But this year, there will be another parade (of alebrijes) on 22nd October and a parade of Catrinas on 29 Oct. Dia de los Muertos is actually 1st and 2nd November, the biggest festivities happen around 29-31 October.

      8. Hi! Are you sure about the parade being on the 31st for 2022? I cannot find the information anywhere. I keep iMessaging the Culture Secretary and they keep telling me to “check the website.” Still no updates there.


      9. Good day,
        finding the actual date / time of the big parade this year has been a little confusing. Your site reports the 31st but other sites ( still say the 29th, keeping it on a weekend like the past years.

        Like others, we had planned to visit for the weekend with the flight returning late Sunday so moving it to a Monday would mean we’d miss it 🙁

          1. Hi Nellie,
            Thanks for all the fantastic information. You really are the first site that pops up on google so I have been able to learn a lot of things to plan for my trip in a few weeks.

            In regards to the parade, I wrote the people behind the Mega Procesión de Catrinas 2022 (the event is listed as happening on October 23rd on their Facebook page). I asked them about the International Parade and they replied that the official date has not been announced yet.

            I also wrote my AirBnB in Mexico City and they are also unsure of the date.

            I wonder if the date Alejandro found was just the website updating last year’s date and placing it on the Monday this year and not the Sunday (last year)?

            Is Monday the 31st a holiday in Mexico City as, if not, I guess it would be a strange time to hold a noon parade if most people are working.

            I have written a few more organizations like TRAVEL MEXICO, etc. to see if I can get some more info and will be happy to share whatever I can find out with you and, I’m sure, others who are using your blog to plan Day of the Dead trips. 🙂


      10. Hi Nellie,
        Just a heads up. I had written Secretaría de Turismo de la Ciudad de México on Twitter. They wrote back that the parade will be on Saturday the 29th. As of yet, they don’t have the start time saying it will be released in the coming weeks.

      11. Hi Nellie,

        I have a question. Are there festivities all day long on the 2nd of October. I was wondering wether I could take a plan that leaves on the 2nd of November in the evening or if I would miss out a lot of happening in the afternoon/evening of the 2nd?

        Thank you!

          1. Thanx Nellie! I saw I had made a mistake. I actually meant the 2nd of November. How is that like? Can I still leave in the eveneing or are there a lot of festivities not to miss?

            1. hey Maikel, oops I made the same mistake :D! I also meant the 2nd of November. It’s the last day and most low-key day of the Dia de los Muertos. Even though most ofrendas stay up for awhile after, most events will end by 2nd November.

      12. Hi again,
        Just wanting to share more info with you. The official Secretaria de Cultura twitter ( is now asking for parade volunteers. If you click on the link to fill out the volunteer forms it lists the dates as a Saturday AND a Sunday. Doesn’t specifically say which ones. However, the times listed to volunteer are between 9AM and 5PM.

        So either they are having TWO parades this year (which is the rumour) or they haven’t decided on a Saturday or Sunday date. :p

        However, they did announce a DAY OF THE DEAD Bike Parade for the night of Saturday the 29th:

      13. Hi Bret! Wow thanks for the update! It’s most likely on Saturday but perhaps they need volunteers on both days to help with traffic. Last year it was on a Saturday, and most years they’ve kept it on the weekend. Awesome! Thanks for sharing with us!!!

      14. Hi Everyone! Has there been any update on the main parade dates (29th, 30th, or 31st)? We booked flights and are trying to decide whether we need to change them but we have other plans to work around and all the websites have conflicting info…

      15. Hi Nellie,
        Looks like the press conference for the parade happening now. The poster in the background looks to say the parade is Saturday 29th but lists start time at 17h (5pm). Perhaps you can translate better then I when they post the poster / route.

      16. Hi,
        we are arriving on 4th novembre to Mexico City. Is there still something to see or is most of decorations,.. of dia de los muertos removed?
        If I understood correctly no more festivities on weekend after de los muertos?
        Thank you and kind regards

        1. hi Christian, most of the ofrendas will stay up until 4th November, so hopefully you’ll get to see some! There won’t be anymore parades or evnts after the 2nd November, but some decorations will still be up.

      17. Hi all,
        Just another thing to add:

        Chapultepec Park will be doing an event called Illuminating Souls. It is basically a Day of the Dead themed night walk with light projections and live music in the park.

        October 29/30
        November 1/2

      18. Thank you so much for all this information. We are planning on going this year to Mexico City for Dia de los Muertos. Are there Hotel parties as well?

        1. hi Angelica, some hotels do hold parties, especially those along Paseo de la Reforma (where the parade passes). Here’s a link with a list of hotels that do it (it’s in Spanish but you can download the Google translator extension to see it in English).

      19. I tried to find the Jean Paul Gautelier pop up, the address in post there was nothing but a parking lot. Did the structure get moved?

        1. hi Sabrina, so sorry that was the location for last year’s pop up ofrenda. Jean Paul Gautier usually does an ofrenda in CDMX every year, I’ve tried to find the location for this year’s one but it’s still not up yet. I will update this once I find it. My apologies!

            1. hi Sabrina! This year, Jean Paul Gaultier’s altar is at Sofitel Mexico City Reforma hotel (Paseo de Reforma 297). I’ve updated the article with info. Let us know how it goes! 🙂 (I will be Oaxaca this Dia de los Muertos!)

      20. Thank you so much for presenting this information. Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, was a major draw for me when considering a move to Mexico. The dead come back to Earth at this time every year to pay their respects. The national festival of Mexico is a riot of color and revelry in honor of the dead. This is a fantastic article, so thank you very much for posting it!

      21. Pre-covid & earthquakes, locals would dress up for Halloween and crowd Coyoacan in such costumes on Oct 31! Has that tradition died? I could always go Nov 1… Also has the pesero sitution gotten better on such days? the last ones were around 12am and full

        1. hi Mea, yeh youngsters and kids still dressed in Halloween costume on 31st, but mainly in Coyoacan and neighborhoods. I didn’t see that many in the historic center. We didn’t stay out till midnight, but never had an issue getting an Uber home. Sorry Im not of much help!

      22. Thanks for the incredibly helpful article! Yours is the only one I’ve found with helpful info on the events this year so far. O contacted the sofitel for reservations for the Jean Paul gaultier event but they didn’t know what I was talking about. Any tips on booking a spot for that?

        Thanks again!

        1. hi Liz, thanks for the kind words, glad you find this useful!!! Jean Paul Gaultier’s altar is usually placed at a different location each year. This is the link to last year’s event; there is still no info about this year’s event yet. Regardless, it’s open to the public, no reservations are required. I will keep checking and keep you updated! 🙂

      23. Hey do you have any more info on the Coyoacan walking tours? The link does not work and I cannot find anything functional using google. I would love to book this, thanks!

        1. hey Jayne, thanks for pointing that out. The Coyoacan municipality website doesn’t seem to work well, I manage to get to this page but there’s no info on this year’s Dia de Muertos event yet. I will keep checking to see if they update it and if they’re doing the walk this year too.

      24. The Mexico City Government twitter account posted the parade will be held on November 4th, but every other sites indicate the parade is the Saturday prior, any help would be great.

        1. hi Marc, I saw the announcement over the weekend but was traveling and finally had the chance to look through it. Yes I’ve found conflicting updates, but it looks like several Mexican news outlets including Publicmetro all say it’s confirmed for the November 4th! This is the official parade website but it doesn’t say the date there yet. I’ve updated the info above but will keep checking and updating.

      25. Hi Nellie.
        I’m travelling with some friends in their 70’s who are keen to see the parade. Could you recommend any restaurants, rooftop patios or other viewing points where they might be able to enjoy the parade rather than being at street level?
        Thank you.

        1. Hi John, if you scroll to the bottom of the article, you’ll see a few suggestions for rooftop bars where you can go to see the parade from above. Terrazza Cha Cha Cha and Cityzen Rooftop Kitchen are good. Prima Grill and Sheraton Maria Isabel also have good views.

      26. I booked my trip thinking the parade would be the Saturday before and am flying out Friday 11/3. Do you think it’s worth it to extend the trip? I’m doing a day of the dead tour, including going to Puebla. I’d only want watch the parade if I was sitting from somewhere. Thanks!

        1. hi Jessie, so sorry to hear! Things usually die down by 3rd November, so I’m honestly surprised that they planned the parade for 4th November this year. Honestly if you’re just going to watch it from afar then I think it’s not worth extending your trip. The parade is spectacular, but it gets very crowded and it’s hard to really see what’s going on unless you start waiting hours ahead. For me, the highlight of the Dia de los Muertos celebrations is going to the cemetery at night. The parade is amazing, but not the best part of the celebrations for sure.

      27. Thank you so much the guidance! I’m doing the Intrepid day of the dead tour, which includes a cemetery visit. I guess it’s a good reminder that when traveling you can plan as best as possible but still have to be flexible as things change. I appreciate the blog and thanks again!

      28. Hi Ms. Nellie. I was wondering if the face paint is easy to get off? Can you just use baby wipes? I was planning on having my face painted but do want to explore more of the city afterwards without having to go back to the hotel & wash it all off. Thank you.

        1. hi Catherine, yes it’s easy to take off. But it depends on how elaborate your face painting is. If it’s very simple without a base layer then baby wipes should be enough. If you need water, I’m sure you can find a toilet in a restaurant or something to wash the face paint off.

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