Day of the Dead for NYC Kids 2012: Mexican Culture Comes Alive with Día de los Muertos Family Celebrations
Even though it's only the second week of October, you're probably busy figuring out which Halloween events and activities you'll have time to hit this month as October 31 draws near. But how about mixing something multicultural into your celebrating this year?
Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos as it's known in Spanish—is observed by many Latino cultures. While it's not a Halloween event per se, it occurs around the same time and features many of the same trappings (skulls, colorful outfits, parades, etc.). During the Day of the Dead, revelers celebrate friends and family members who have passed on by building altars and adorning them with colorful paper flowers, grinning skeletons and candles. It's a really joyful way to honor the deceased without freaking kids out.
Day of the Dead technically takes place on November 1 and 2 to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day, however this year the events seem to be spread out throughout October and November. Here are five ways to celebrate Day of the Dead with kids in New York City, most of which are totally FREE.
Super Sabado: Dia de los Muertos Celebration – East Harlem
El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Avenue at 104th Street
Saturday, October 20 11am-6pm
We passed by the museum the other day and already its massive Day of the Dead display is on view in its cafe. My daughter and I went to this celebration last year and had a blast (that's her in skeleton face paint). Kids can contribute to a collaborative altar, groove to live music, hear storytellers, get their faces painted and march in a spooky procession from the nearby Dana Discovery Center to the museum.
Dead or Alive: Halloween at NYSCI – Corona
47-01 111th Street
Saturday, October 27-Sunday, October 28, times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Free with admission: $11 for adults, $8 for children 2-17.
The New York Hall of Science's celebration may have Halloween in its title, but some of the events have a Day of the Dead theme. On Saturday evening, kids can dress up for a Dead or Alive Party, where they'll smash piñatas while dancing to live music and sampling Mexican eats. Also throughout the weekend, families can collaborate on holiday crafts like giant piñatas and papel picado, a Mexican banner made from cut paper.
Day of the Dead at the National Museum of the American Indian – Financial District
1 Bowling Green between Broadway and State Street
Saturday, October 27 1-4pm
The always-free institutions hosts this afternoon celebration. Families can make traditional Day of the Dead crafts like paper flowers, plaster skulls and skull masks, and enjoy live dance and music performances.
Halloween Remixed – Flushing
Flushing Town Hall, 137-35 Northern Boulevard near Linden Place
Wednesday, October 31 4-7pm
Mark the Day of the Dead, Halloween and All Saints' Day in one shot at this true multicultural family festival. Kids (and parents) are encouraged to wear costumes to this trifecta, which includes spooky songs and dances, and cool crafts like making Mexican sugar skulls to place on the Day of the Dead altar.
Day of the Dead at St. Mark's Church in the Bowery – East Village
131 East 10th Street between Second and Third Avenues
Thursday, November 1-Sunday, November 4. Times vary. Visit the website for a complete schedule.
Mano a Mano recreates a Mexican village churchyard and offers events to honor those who have passed. Workshops are for all ages and include altar-building, paper flower making, poetry writing and bread baking. Bring photographs, candles and flowers to adorn the altar in honor of your deceased loved ones, or just drop by and enjoy the experience of this four-day celebration, which also includes musical performances and a traditional dance procession.
If you're wondering about the big Day of the Dead street festival that used to take place on East 116th Street, unfortunately it looks like it's no long happening.
For more seasonal fun check out our Halloween Guide.
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