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.
For more local seasonal events check out our Halloween and Fairs & Festivals event pages.
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.
Anaheim Town Square
2180 E Lincoln Ave, Anaheim, CA 92806
Date/Time: 2022 TBA
At the Anaheim Town Square there will be a costume contest, kids crafts, chalk art with kids chalk zone, face painting, mariachi and more. Plus, a Mariachi Band performance, face painting, build an altar, Folklorico dance performers and more.
1313 Disneyland Drive. Anaheim, CA 92802
Date/Time: September 2 to November 2, 2022
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 park 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
250 E. Center Street, Anaheim
Date/Time: October 28, 2022 5PM – 9:30PM
Downtown 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.
MPIOC’s Second Annual Dia de los Muertos Costume Party
Downtown Disney Tortilla Joe’s, 1510 Disneyland Dr, Anaheim, CA
Muzeo Museum and Cultural Center
241 S. Anaheim Blvd, Anaheim, CA 92805
Date/Time: October 28-November 2, 2022
The Muzeo invites visitors to honor the souls of the departed. A Community Table is setup where visitors can leave mementos of their loved one(s) and authentic ofrendas decorated by local artists with photos, candles, flowers, beads, and other memorial objects are there for visitors to enjoy.
Forest Lawn Memorial Park
4471 Lincoln Avenue, Cypress, CA 90630
Date/Time: Sunday, October 30, 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 Ritz Carlton
One Ritz-Carlton Drive, Dana Point, CA 92629
The Ritz-Carlton is honoring Dia de los Muertos with a Culinary Cookout at the RAYA bar.
The Muckenthaler Center Día de los Muertos Festival
1201 W Malvern Ave, Fullerton, CA 92833
Date/Time: Sunday, October 30, 12:00-4:00 p.m.
The Día de los Muertos Festival will feature festive activities for the whole family, live music, local artisans, and arts and crafts for kids.
7777 Edinger Ave., Huntington Beach
Date/Time: Saturday, October 15, 2022 from 4PM – 8PM
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.
St. Isidore Historical Plaza
10961 Reagan St, Los Alamitos, CA 90720
Date/Time: Sat, Oct 29, 2022 at 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.
Orange County FamilySearch Center
675 S. Yorba, Orange, CA
Date/Time: Saturday, November 5, 2022 from 4PM to 8PM
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]
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.
Bower’s Museum Mexican Day of the Dead Festival
2002 N Main St, Santa Ana, CA 92706
Date/Time: November 6, 2022 | 11:00 am – 3:00 pm
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.
El Centro Cultural de Mexico Noche de Altares
837 N Ross St, Santa Ana, CA 92701
Date/Time: November 5, 2022 | 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.
3101 W Harvard St, Santa Ana, 92704
Date/Time: Sunday, October 23, 2022 12:00 PM – 5:00 PM and Friday, October 28, 2022 7PM – 10PM
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 6, 2022, 12:00 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 29, 2022 2PM – 5PM
MainPlace Mall’s Dia De Los Muertos event features cultural performances in Macy’s Court, including:
- 2PM to 3PM – Mariachi Los Santaneros: Performing artists in Dia De Los Muertos Attire
- 3PM to 4PM – FolklorAmerica: 18 different dance routines performed by artists of all ages
- 4PM to 5PM – Mantra: Beloved local Santanero band playing Latin rock hits
Eventgoers can also enjoy:
- JCPenney Court – Photo ops with Día de Los Muertos murals
- Center Court – A hand-painted mural photo op and professional face painters who will bring little catrinas and catrines to life with half-painted faces
- South Court in front of The Children’s Place – Art workshop for children to create beautiful paper flowers (materials will be provided)
- In front of the MyPerks Lounge – A live painter showcasing amazing works of art, a caricaturist drawing spooky guest likenesses, and a sugar skull decorating station with handmade sugar skulls, assorted icing colors, mini flowers and rhinestones.
Tianguis Dia De Los Muertos
325 E 4th Street, Santa Ana
Date/Time: October 30, 2022 4PM to 9PM
Event includes an Aztec Ceremony from 4-6PM, Catrina Model Runway at 7PM, Remembrance Altar, Xolo Dog Club Meet, and Mariachi.
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.
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 21st through Tuesday, November 16th, 2021 (2022 TBA). Only light flower clean-ups will occur during this extended holiday period.
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.
OC Parks such as Irvine Regional Park have also had programs and events in the past. View the OC Parks 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 the 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 here, 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.
|Halloween Events In Orange County||Haunted Houses and Locations|
|Hayrides In OC & Beyond||Knott’s Scary Farm: Making Monsters|
|Halloween Activities & Fun Things to Do||Doll In The Hall|