Any trip you take for pleasure is a chance to make memorable moments that can last a lifetime. Sometimes you choose to go on an adventure, sometimes you take a holiday or a vacation to escape from it all, and then there are times when you’re looking to experience some of the most enjoyable festivals in the world.
For those looking for the last option, one of the best experiences you can have is celebrating the Day of the Dead in Mexico. It’s part of UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and one of those celebrations you will remember. Yet instead of simply coming in just for one part of the event, the best way to experience this day is with complete integration into the cultural prowess behind it before, during, and after the holiday.
Hierve El Agua
Our tour will cover seven days and have you experiencing the day of the Dead festival while also enjoying the culinary tastes and traditional cooking preparations of Mexico. There’ll also be a discovery of the heart of the arts of Mexico and taking the time to tour the history and ruins of Monte Albán.
On your first day, we keep it simple and help prepare for the intensity of the experiences of the trip. First, you’ll arrive at Oaxaca International Airport and be warmly greeted by one of our representatives. Then we’ll help to transfer you to your hotel to rest accordingly.
You’ll be able to have dinner at your hotel, or we’ll be glad to recommend some local eateries to help get you ready for all the experiences that are about to begin.
We begin the day with a tour of Oaxaca City to get a feel for the vibrancy that’s there. Of course, one of the optimum ways to experience the city is with the inclusion of an authentic Oaxaca food tour.
This is the best combination to enhance the senses and cultural infusion to start off your journey. So whether you eat some Tamales Oaxaqueños or Memelas, you’ll be sure to enjoy the wide offering available.
Then it’s about getting a closer view of the city that many often do not get to see, where you’ll be able to try the local fares and see some authentic handmade colorful crafts. This part of the trip is around five to six hours.
Some of the core highlights of the city include Templo de Santo Domingo de Guzman and the Zocalo, as well as the city center, which is a UNESCO site as well.
Since it’s the week of the day of the dead, you’ll already start to see the dramatic parades with people preparing or in their intricate costumes. If you head towards the resting place of the dead, you’ll start to see families gathering there to pay their respects.
This day is to experience the area in the Sierra Norte near Oaxaca City. You’ll be immersed in the beauties of the area and have a full day of fun-packed activities. We begin the day by exploring the town of Teotitlán del Valle, a picturesque and idyllic town that keeps its historic look.
We’ll explore all the woven crafts and why they’re famous for as well. These are made with all-natural dyes that are created in the traditional method that is as ancient as the down. You’ll be able to see traditional designs such as Navajo or Zapotec shapes and some modern interpretations of western artists.
All of these are made on traditional looms by local expert craftsmen. You’ll also be able to visit el Tule which is a tree that is approximately 2000 years old.
Then we’ll get ourselves out of the warm weather and into the natural hot pools of Hierve el Agua. Literally translates into ‘the water boils,’ these pristine waters will help to rejuvenate you from the trip and prepare for the visit to the local Mezcal Distillery, where you’ll be able to taste some of the best Mezcal ever made.
Hierve el Agua is a sacred place with many natural minerals and other positive properties. It’s the combination of two pools that look like waterfalls, and one of them can go down extremely deep, around 30 meters.
Then we’ll head back and enjoy more Day of the Dead festivities. Feel free to ask locals and their families about their Ofrendas and who they remember and honor for the special holiday.
You’ll find how much these locals want to share their heritage and experiences with you and will help to make you feel like a part of the extended family. In addition, you’ll be able to get a great explanation of everything related to the Ofrendas, what they consist of and exactly why they’re so important.
On this day, we’ll explore another UNESCO site, the archeological site of Monte Alban. This is around half a day, and we’ll be able to explore what is translated as the White Mountain.
This is an entire well-preserved complex of ancient cultures encompassing temples, pyramids, and ceremonial sites. You’ll have a guided tour to better understand the history and significance behind this active site. This tour is quite thorough and will take about half a day.
You’ll definitely want to also check out the historical palace and the observatory. From the observatory, you’ll be able to see quite a distance and even be able to see local villages and towns throughout the valley on a clear day.
Then it’s back to the town to celebrate one of the two biggest days of the Day of the Dead. Be prepared to be swarmed with the huge parades throughout the day and night and see everyone in all their lovely costumes and glory.
Don’t be shy and visit the graveyards where the vibrancy can be felt and explore this unique view and culture on death. You may even want to paint your face with traditional skeletal designs if you’re feeling extremely festive.
Your face painting is to represent those loved ones that have now passed away, and it’s a sign of respect to carry on their spirits through these paintings.
On this day, you’ll be able to see the culmination of the Day of the Dead festivities and see the major parade that’s become famous worldwide. Take the time to participate and maybe even get yourself a costume to wear and parade with the locals!
You’ll have more time this day to experience everything it has to offer beyond the parades and make sure to spend time observing the vigils as this is the day that many people believe is when the spirits come and visit. You can also see what else the locals ritualistically do for this glorious day.
We’ll start the day off by heading off to one of the largest markets in Oaxaca. Here we’ll get some of the freshest ingredients possible to prepare some local dishes through a guided cooking class.
You’ll be able to prepare some of the more complex local cuisines, from a proper mole to tortillas and empanadas. You’ll be able to pair them with locally made fruit beverages and, of course, taste some additional Mezcal at the end with all the food you’ve made for the day.
You’ll feel the immersion through the preparation of these dishes. This portion is approximately five hours.
On this day you’ll start to see the celebrations continue strongly and you will have a few hours for you to do what you want. During this free time, we recommend taking the chance to explore the city locally and observe the beautifully adorned graveyards with all the offerings left by the families for those that are no longer with us.
Or you can simply sample more of the local foods and have your fill of the quality Mezcal that’s made within the region. Soak in the arts and check out the unique and colorful sand tapestries that will be strewn around the city.
Although this day may be a bit quieter than the Day of the Dead on November 1st, there’s still a lot to be seen and to do, or you can simply take the time to relax and rest from your nearly week-long adventures.
On this day, one of our driver-partners will take you back to the Oaxaca International Airport, where you will be able to depart with your flight back home or wherever your adventure takes you next.
If you don’t want the journey to end in Oaxaca or Mexico in general, feel free to contact us beforehand, and we’ll help to have a more extended holiday ready for you, depending on what you want to dig deeper into.
Whether it’s more about the local cultural immersion, exploration of ancient sites, or simply enjoying a relaxing time through a tour of beaches, we’ve got you covered and are ready to provide you with your next trip in the area.
Don’t hesitate to ask away if you have any questions about this trip or what more can be done during the extensive day of the Dead celebrations. We’re happy to be able to answer any questions and advise on how best to experience this annual event.
map, expenses & price
Day of the Dead in Mexico
-All private transportation.
-Six nights of hotel accommodations.
-Professional certified guides.
-All park entrance fees.
-Tours and excursions as listed.
-Breakfasts and two traditional lunches.
Dates of the festival: October 28th – November 3rd.