Halloween isn't the only spooky holiday to celebrate in October. Day of the Dead—or Día de los Muertos as it's known in Spanish—is observed by many Latino cultures and is especially popular in Mexico.
Day of the Dead officially takes place on November 1 and 2 to coincide with the Catholic holidays of All Saints' Day and All Souls' Day. However, NYC events are spread throughout October and early November and most of them are FREE. While it's not a Halloween event, it occurs around the same time and features many of the same trappings like skulls and parades. Revelers honor friends and family members who have died by building altars and adorning them with colorful paper flowers, grinning skeletons and candles. It's a joyful way to remember the deceased without freaking kids out. We've rounded up half a dozen Day of the Dead events where NYC kids and families can celebrate the holiday.
You can find more fall activities in our Fall Fun Guide and check out the Halloween Guide for all the best happenings in NYC this month.
Click through to our listings for all the info, including location and time.
Super Sabado: Día de los Muertos Celebration — East Harlem
Saturday, October 15
My daughter and I have been to El Museo del Barrio's annual celebration many times. The museum constructs a giant Day of the Dead altar in its cafe and kids are encouraged to contribute to the display. Enjoy flower and skull face painting, holiday art projects, storytelling and a spooky procession from the nearby Dana Discovery Center in Central Park to the museum. The day closes out with a performance by the Mazarte Dance Company. FREE
Día de los Muertos at the Brooklyn Children's Museum — Crown Heights, Brooklyn
Sunday, October 22
Head to the Brooklyn Children's Museum for the best celebration for preschoolers! Rock out to music from Sonia De Los Santos (of Dan Zanes and Friends Fame). Listen to holiday-themed stories and participate in art and animal programs to learn more about the origins of the celebration. Free with museum admission: $11 for everyone ages 1 and older.
New York City Day of the Dead Festival — Staten Island
Sunday, October 23
Celebrate the holiday at Our Lady of Mount Carmel-St. Benedicta School's 23rd annual fair, which begins with the construction of two altars, one by a local Mexican family, the other for the community where visitors can contribute their own mementos. Afterward, craft paper skeletons and flowers, and enjoy traditional music and dance performances. FREE
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The community-built altar at Mano a Mano's Day of the Dead fest is filled with family photos.
Day of the Dead — East Village
Friday, October 28-Monday, October 31
Mexican culture organization Mano a Mano throws one of the best Day of the Dead events in NYC at St. Mark's Church in the East Village. The three-day fest includes a marketplace with Mexican eats and wares, live music, and dance performances, paper craft workshops, and a communal altar where you can place photos and other remembrances of your loved ones.
Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead — Financial District
Saturday, October 29
The always-free National Museum of the American Indian hosts an afternoon fete where families can try holiday activities like decorating skull masks and skeleton puppets, crafting paper flowers, painting plaster skulls, and contributing to the community altar. Cetiliztli Nauhcampa will also perform traditional dances. FREE
The Queens Museum hosts its annual Day of the Dead fest in Corona Plaza.
Fiesta del Día de los Muertos — Corona, Queens
Saturday, October 29
Hit Corona Plaza for this annual Day of the Dead community fest sponsored by the nearby Queens Museum. Pick up homemade eats from the market, enjoy music and dance performances and check out the altar made by locals in collaboration with artist Daniel del Valle. FREE
Top photo: Kids listen to storytime during El Museo del Barrio's Day of the Dead. Unless otherwise noted all photos courtesy of the museums/events.
This post was first published in October 2010 but is updated annually.