Day of the Dead or el Día de los Muertos in Spanish, is a Mexican holiday where families welcome back the souls or spirits of their deceased relatives for a brief reunion. Day of the Dead celebrates life and includes food and drinks.
When is Day of the Dead?
Day of the Dead is traditionally celebrated on November 1 and 2, though other days, such as October 31 or November 6, may be included depending on the local traditions. Day of the Dead celebrations in Orange County often include other days leading up to Halloween and after.
Below are the many places that celebrate el Día de los Muertos in Orange County.
1313 Disneyland Drive. Anaheim, CA 92802
Date/Time: September 1 to November 2, 2023
El Zócalo Park in Frontierland will feature iconic skeleton figurines called calacas—depicting a trio of mariachi musicians—as well as brightly colored flowers and other decorative items seen in traditional ofrendas (offering) on the Day of the Dead. You can also dine at nearby Rancho del Zócalo Restaurante. Valid parking ticket required.
Plaza de la Familia at California Adventure celebrates the Spirit of Día de Los Muertos with the Mexican Árbol de la Vida (Tree of Life) where you can post personal messages to your loved ones on the Memory Wall. Mexican food will be served and mariachi concerts will perform on the bandstand at the Paradise Garden Grill. A Musical Celebration of Coco will also include folklórico dancers in authentic costumes and ofrendas while they perform.
Downtown Anaheim Community Center Day Of The Dead
Pearson Park: 400 N. Harbor Blvd., Anaheim
Date/Time: Friday, November 3, 2023 | 5PM – 9:30PM
Anaheim presents a night of community and culture featuring live mariachi, crafts, altars, food, and vendors. Bring your own chair or blanket and enjoy the celebration.
Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center
241 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805
Date/Time: Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 5:00 pm – 8:00 pm
The Muzeo invites visitors to get into the spirit of the season with this free, family-friendly outdoor movie. Bring your own chairs and lots of cozy blankets as we watch movies under the stars! Concessions and specialty fall drinks will be available for purchase. Picnics from home or dinner from our local restaurants are encouraged as well. Look for crafts or contests starting at 5:00 PM with the movie starting at sunset. The featured film for is 2017’s Dia de los Muertos classic: Coco.
Muzeo Outdoor Movie Night
Thursday, November 2, 2023 – Screening of Coco in Carnegie Plaza & Courtyard
Buena Park Elks Lodge
7212 Melrose Street Buena Park, CA 90621
Date/Time: Sunday, October 29, 2023
Join this event that will feature a lively marketplace of local vendors offering unique crafts, one-of-a-kind treasures, and delicious eats. The highlight of the event is the Día de Muertos exhibit, where you can pay homage to loved ones who have passed away. Admire and learn about the beautifully decorated altar adorned with marigolds, candles, and photographs, symbolizing the connection between the living and the deceased.
Segerstrom Center for the Arts
600 Town Center Drive, Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Date/Time: Wednesday, October 11, 2023
Mexican-American singer Lila Downs will perform a Dia De Los Muertos concert that will reflect the cultures of Oaxaca, Mexico, and the U.S.
El Dia De Los Muertos at Lions Park
570 W 18th St., 570 West 18th Street, Costa Mesa, CA 92627
Date/Time: Saturday, October 28, 2023
Martin Espino will present a cultural, historical and musical performance about El Dia De Los Muertos.
Dia De Los Muertos at Hana Field
427 Anton Blvd. Costa Mesa, CA 92626
Thursday & Friday, November 2 & 3 | 12:00 PM to 6:00 PM
Saturday, November 4, } 10:00 AM to 6:00 PM
Come celebrate a vibrant and culturally rich celebration of Dia De Los Muertos at Hana Field in Costa Mesa. This event promises to be a memorable experience that honors and celebrates the traditions of this important Mexican holiday.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
4471 Lincoln Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630
Date/Time: Sunday, October 29, 2:00-4:00 p.m.
Forest Lawn Cypress will host a celebration with an altar, cultural expressions, a Folkloric dance group and mariachi music.
The Muckenthaler Center Día de los Muertos Festival
1201 W Malvern Ave, Fullerton, CA 92833
Date/Time: Sunday, October 29, 2023 | 12:00-4:00 p.m.
7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach
Date/Time: Friday, November 3, 2023 from 5PM – 10PM
The Dia De Los Muertos Maker Market features over 40 artisans and vendors, live entertainment, art installations, face painting, and kids’ activities and games. Puesto will be there with complimentary guac, chips, and salsa. This fun cultural event will be on the green in front of the movie theater.
Irvine Barclay Theater
Date/Time: November 2, 2023 from 4:00PM – 8:30PM
Toyaacan Danza Azteca opens the event at Irvine Barclay Theater with traditional rituals and Ballet Folklorico de UCI welcome guests as they join our celebration in the plaza. Guests can participate in the virtual community altar, enjoy a Mariachi concert while visiting the face-painting and sugar skull crafts booths. Entertainment will be provided by the Mariachi Divas. This event is free and open to the public.
- Dia De Los Muertos – Paint Your Pet and Pour – Wednesday, November 1, 2023
St. Isidore Historical Plaza
10961 Reagan St, Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct 28, 2023 | 2:00 PM – 9:00 PM
St Isidore Historical Plaza will host a celebration of Día de los Muertos that will feature an altar display contest, costume contest, face painting, Folkloric dancing, live music, and delicious food and drinks. Visitors are invited to participate in the creation of Altars. Altars can be created through a wide spectrum of dedications, depending on one’s creative desire. This is your opportunity not only to honor your loved ones who have departed from this world—it is also an opportunity to come together as a community to embrace this celebration of life. Reserve your altar display space.
Dia de Los Muertos Fiesta
Norman P. Murray Community Center | 24932 Veterans Way, Mission Viejo, CA 92692
Date/Time: Saturday, Oct 28, 2023 | 2:00 PM – 7:00 PM
Join the celebration of Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and delve into its history and cultural significance, embracing the rich traditions and festivities. Immerse yourself in the lively atmosphere with Mariachi entertainment, captivating Folkloric Dance, artistic face painting, and engaging craft activities and workshops. Wander through the multi-cultural artisan market, indulging in the authenticity of various food, beverages, beer, wine, and Sangria for a true cultural experience.
Mosaic Day of the Dead Tile
Sherman Library | 2647 East Coast Highway, Corona del Mar, CA 92625
Date/Time: Tuesday, Oct 24, 2023 | 10:00 AM – 2:00 PM
Join mosaic artist, David Jarvinen as he hosts a Sugar Skull mosaic workshop, a captivating piece that combines artistry and cultural symbolism. The project is a 6″ x 6″ square and comes with an embossed skull design to stimulate creativity.
Orange County FamilySearch Center
675 S. Yorba, Orange, CA
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4, 2023 | 2PM to 6PM
Tour the Orange County FamilySearch Center to learn how to find your ancestors while enjoying Mexican cultural activities honoring the dead with music, singing, dancing, and calaveras (face painting). Authentic Mexican food will be available to purchase. Fun for the whole family! If you would like to share your artistic talents to create chalk paintings, exhibit your family photos and keepsakes in altares (altar
displays), or learn more about the event, contact [email protected].
Musco Center for the Arts Ofrenda Ballet Folklorico
One University Dr, Orange, CA 92866
Date/Time: Sunday, October 22, 2023 | 3PM
Celebrate one of Mexico’s most beloved holidays, Día de Los Muertos, with the nation’s premier Mexican folk dance company, Ballet Folklórico de Los Ángeles, and the musicians of Mariachi Garibaldi de Jaime Cuéllar, led by three-time Grammy award-winner Jimmy Cuéllar.
4328 E Chapman Ave, Orange, CA 92869
Date/Time: Typically 3 nights Oct 29/30 and Nov 1st.
Moreno’s Restaurant holds an annual el Día de los Muertos celebration with Folklorico, Mariachi, Veracruz Music featuring Danzantes del Sol. Over dinner and drinks there is a celebration with face painting, treats and giveaway prizes.
San Clemente Day of the Dead Celebration
Max Berg Plaza Park | 1100 Calle Puente, San Clemente, CA
Date/Time: Thursday, November 2, 2023 | 3:30 p.m. – 6:30 p.m
Celebrate Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos, to remember friends, family, and community members who have passed. The lively special event will include an altar and ofrenda, traditional sugar skull crafts, face painting, Ballet Folklorico dance performance, Danza Azteca performance, local non-profit organization booths, traditional delicious food, treats, drinks, and a DJ throughout the event. The event is free and open to the public.
San Juan Capistrano
Mission San Juan Capistrano
26801 Old Mission Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Date/Time: October 1 – November 2, 2023
The Mission will have a Dia De Los Muertos Altar will be on display daily through November 2nd. Remember your loved ones by placing their name on the altar or ofrenda.
Inn At The Mission San Juan Capistrano
26907 Old Mission Road, San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
Date/Time: November 1, 2023 | 5-8PM
The Inn At The Mission celebrates Dia De Los Muertos with a three course meal, face painting, hand crafted cocktails, and other celebratory activities. Book ahead to reserve your spot.
El Centro Cultural de Mexico Noche de Altares
837 N Ross St, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Date/Time: Sunday, November 4, 2023 | 1:00 pm – 10:00 pm
Since 2002, El Centro Cultural de México has celebrated Noche de Altares, or a Night of Altars. It is a community based Día de los Muertos celebration, where families, students, community organizations, and businesses come together to honor the ancient traditions of the festival and bring community members together through art, culture, and compassion.
Viva La Vida Dia De Los Muertos Festival
309 W 4th St, Santa Ana, CA 92701 (4th Street, between Ross and Broadway street)
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4, 2023 | 2:00 PM 10:00 PM
The Viva La Vida Dia De Los Muertos Festival features traditional Altares built by community members and organizations, Artisan vendors, music & entertainment, and food trucks. The streets will be alive with culture, tradition, and beautiful tributes to loved ones.
Bower’s Museum Mexican Day of the Dead Festival
2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Date/Time: Sunday, November 5 | 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
Date/Time: Mexican Sugar Skulls Decorating | Thursday, October 26, 2023
Celebrate with the Bowers Museum during their free family festival held in the Key Courtyard. Enjoy live performances, ofrenda, art making, face painting and more.
3101 W Harvard St, Santa Ana, 92704
Date/Time: Friday, October 27, 2023 | 6:00 PM – 9:00 PM
The HMOC community ofrenda is a free Día de los Muertos celebration featuring sugar skull and altar building workshops, music, performances, food trucks, face painting and much more all under the stars on the Heritage Museum’s gazebo lawn.
Viva La Vida Día de los Muertos Celebration
4th Street & Birch Street, Santa Ana, CA
Date/Time: Saturday, November 4, 2023, 2:00 PM 10:00 PM
The Día de los Muertos event features live music and entertainment and altars where residents can pay tribute to their loved ones as they celebrate their lives with photos, flowers, special foods and candles. As the sun starts to set, La Catrina, a prevalent, skeletal symbol for Dia de los Muertos, will visit each altar and light the first candle of the night.
Viva La Vida Santa Ana is a nonprofit based in Santa Ana whose mission is to expose the beauty and liveliness of Latino culture by producing a free, family-friendly event every year for Día de los Muertos.
Dia De Los Muertos at Main Place Mall
Main Place Mall: 2800 N Main Street, Santa Ana
Date/Time: Saturday, October 28, 2023 | 2PM – 5PM
MainPlace Mall’s Dia De Los Muertos event features cultural performances in Macy’s Court, including:
Enjoy live performances, beautiful face painting, a sugar skull decorating workshop, an illustration station, live painting, kid crafts and the first 300 children to visit the welcome table in Macy’s Court will receive a swag bag filled with goodies and treats. An exclusive art station in the MyPerks Lounge will teach attendees to weave a DIY basket using paper plates, yarn/twine, and other materials that will be provided to participants (while supplies last).
Tianguis Dia De Los Muertos
Tianguis Market | 325 E 4th Street, Santa Ana
Date/Time: Sunday, October 29, 2023 | 5PM to 10PM
This event at the Tainguis market includes an Aztec Danza Ceremony, Catrina Model Runway, Remembrance Altar, face painting, mariachi music, free kid’s Halloween costumes and more.
Fairhaven Memorial Park Dia de los Muertos
1702 Fairhaven Avenue Santa Ana, CA 92705
Date/Time: Thursday, November 2,2023 | 11AM to 3PM
OC Wine & Spirit Fest Día de los Muertos
Giracci Vineyards & Farms | 16162 Jackson Ranch Rd. N, Silverado, CA 92676
Date/Time: Sunday, November 5, 2023
Celebrate Día de los Muertos at The OC Wine & Spirit Fest which will feature wine, craft beer, spirits, hard seltzers, and more with an emphasis on his
Too many to list but check your favorite local Mexican restaurants for celebrations and activities leading up to and during Día de los Muertos.
Churches & Cemeteries
Many churches and cemeteries throughout Orange County hold Día de los Muertos celebrations. Inquire with your local church or cemetery for details.
Most cemeteries allow ofrendas at the gravesites of loved ones and some have celebrations as well. Past celebrations have happened at Fairhaven Memorial Park, Anaheim Cemetery, Holy Sepulcher, Westminster Memorial Park, Forest Lawn, plus many others.
OC District Cemeteries
Families are invited to come to any of the OC District Cemeteries including Anaheim Cemetery, Santa Ana Cemetery and El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest to build personal ofrendas on the gravesites of treasured loved ones. Ofrendas may be placed on gravesites during extended holiday hours beginning on Thursday, October 19th through Tuesday, November 14th. Only light flower clean-ups will occur during this extended holiday period.
On Thursday, November 2, 2023 from 3:00 p.m. until supplies run out, you can drive by the Santa Ana Cemetery office and pick up Dia de los Muertos Craft kits for children, small bouquets of marigolds, and Pan de Muertos – all “To Go”.
OC Libraries & OC Parks
Many Orange County libraries have hosted activities including sugar skull decorating and learning about the history of Día de los Muertos. Past libraries that have held events include Costa Mesa Donald Dungan library, Garden Grove Main Library, Garden Grove Chapman Library, El Modena Library, Tustin Library. View the OC Public Library calendar for upcoming events.
We will update new events as they are announced. Known past events have taken place at Pretend City, Segerstrom, La Habra Children’s Museum, Anaheim Marketplace, Saddleback College Art Department, Fullerton College and many more.
About Día de los Muertos
Officially in México, November 1 is dedicated to All the Saints (Todos los Santos), and November 2 to the Faithful Dead (los Fieles Difuntos). Most traditions believe that November 1st is dedicated to deceased children briefly returning home, and November 2nd to deceased adults briefly returning home.
Day of the Dead is not a sad or morbid occasion, rather it is a festive and colorful holiday celebrating the lives of those who have passed on.
Traditions include parades, festivals, and gathering at cemeteries to enjoy traditional foods like pan de muerto (bread of the dead) and calaveras (sugar skulls). People dress up in eye-catching costumes, and colorful floral decorations. Symbolic cempasuchil (marigolds), which bloom at this time of year, lend a special fragrance to the altar. Cemeteries are common because it is believed the dead return there first.
Ofrenda Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead Offerings)
An ofrenda is the offering placed in an altar during a Día de los Muertos celebration. A common format for an ofrenda contains three levels or tiers:
- Top Tier: Identifies the dead person who is being invited to the altar, frequently with photos of the deceased, along with images of various saints, statuettes of the Virgin Mary, crucifixes, etc.
- Second Tier: Items are placed to encourage the dead to feel at home and welcome: the deceased person’s favorite food items might go there, including mole, candy, pan dulce, and sweet bread called pan de muerto.
- Bottom Tier: Lit candles, and might include a washbasin, mirror, soap, and a towel so that the spirit of the deceased can see and refresh themselves upon arrival at the altar.
- Calaveras and bright orange and cempazuchitl are placed throughout the altar.
Day of the Dead vs Halloween
Day of the Dead and Halloween have common features but are two distinct holidays and it’s definitely not “Mexican Halloween”. Halloween, also called “All Hallow’s Eve”, does not come from the USA, as most people assume, but from Ireland. Day of the Dead is an ever-evolving holiday that traces its earliest roots to the Aztec people in what is now central Mexico.
Though both holidays reminisce the departed, Day of the Dead is focused on remembering departed relatives and friends, especially their ancestors.
Halloween is celebrated on October 31, whereas el Día de los Muertos is celebrated for a full three days, from October 31 to November 2.
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