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Dia de los Muertos Celebration at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park

A smiling woman with dark hair and a black shirt is crouched in front of a large painting that she is working on. She is painting a skeleton wearing a blue jacket and orange bow, against a vibrant red background.
Artist Isabel Garcia paints a mural at the Dia de los Muertos event at Old Town San Diego State Historic Park. Photo by California State Parks, Brian Baer.

In the heart of Old Town San Diego State Historic Park, Dia de los Muertos came alive in a vibrant celebration of life and remembrance. 5,000 visitors came over the course of two days to explore museums, admire altares de muertos (altars of the dead) honoring influential Old Town citizens, participate in hands-on art activities, and watch five different artists in action. One of the highlights of the event was the Community Altar, where attendees could honor their loved ones by adding their names. Participants shared how special it was to “add their mark” to the Park through their Community Altar contribution.

This collective remembrance emphasized the power of community and shared memories. Adding a touch of magic to the evening, the Plaza de Armas held its first ever “Movie in the Park” with a free community showing of Disney Pixar’s “Coco” sponsored by the San Diego Public Library. Families and friends gathered under the stars, embracing the spirit of Dia de los Muertos and reveling in the rich tapestry of traditions that make this celebration so special.

These recent events not only showcase the diverse cultural offerings in California but also underscore the importance of community, nature, and shared experiences in our lives. The Arts in California Parks program and selected projects will continue to offer arts and cultural events that benefit our communities. Read more from local news coverage here.

A toy skeleton with glowing red, pink, orange and yellow butterfly wings is suspended in a tree overhead, with other similar lanterns nearby. Its arms are stretch out forward like it's reaching, or like the butterfly's antennae.
Skeletons or calacas with brightly colored butterfly wings adorned the trees at the Dia De Los Muertos celebration. Old Town San Diego State Historic Park - 10/28/2023 Photo by Brian Baer
A young woman with long dark hair, a black tshirt and jeans crouches holding two marigolds in front of a low oblong container filled with marigolds and brightly colored upright paper cards, each naming a loved one lost, in celebration of Dia De Los Muertos. Behind her are tall pillars of more marigolds reaching up past head height.
A visitor contributes marigolds to the Community Altar in celebration of Dia De Los Muertos.