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Puerto Vallarta Plans Día de Los Muertos Extravaganza

October 9, 2015

Despite the dreary name, El Día de Los Muertos is marked by vibrant bouquets of marigolds, heaping plates of favorite foods and lively parties that all celebrate lost loved ones in the ancient Mexican tradition.

Puerto Vallarta, Mexico - In Puerto Vallarta, the dead will soon walk the Earth — so let the parties begin! Starting on October 29th and continuing through November 2nd, the dearly departed will rise from their graves and join the living in celebration.

According to ancient history, when a person dies their spirit lives on in Mictlan, a place where they rest peacefully until El Día de Los Muertos, when they return to their former homes to visit their families.

Today it is still quite common for Mexican families to go to the cemetery and decorate their relatives' graves and to make altars in their homes to invite their loved ones' spirits to come back for a visit.

Throughout Mexico, Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festivities begin on the night of October 31st and continue through November 2nd. These are the days when art, religion, life, death, sadness and humor all come together in bright colors, tears and music.

Here in Puerto Vallarta, the Tourism Board is working with the producers of Vallarta Pride to extend its Day of the Dead Celebrations into a five-day cultural festival that will include a series of events and activities intended to make the celebrations unforgettable.

From October 29 through November 2, Puerto Vallarta will combine traditional Día de Los Muertos customs and beliefs with new artistic angles and interpretations. With Day of the Dead altars and Catrina displays located in various public places; parades, music and dance performances; a street party, and death-themed movies and photo exhibits, this year's celebration promise to be frightfully fun. Click HERE for the full schedule of events.

One of the festival's distinguishing activities is the 'Day of the Dead Passport.' The dynamic is simple: Tourists and residents are invited to visit altars located in El Centro hotels, restaurants and various public places like the Malecón, City Hall, Plaza Lazaro Cardenas and participating hotels, restaurants and businesses in the downtown area, where your "passport" will be stamped with the exhibitors' logos.

These stamps entitle you to participate in a raffle for prizes to be awarded at the Agustín Rodríguez (the street in front of the Rio Cuale market) Street Party. Called Festival del Día de Muertos en la Calle, festivities traditionally include singing, dancing, Mariachi music, Folkloric ballet, jineteo and charro performances, plus a Catrinas exhibit, regional cuisine, and a fireworks display. Though the date has not yet been announced, this party is typically held on November 2nd.

Unlike Halloween, when death is something to be feared, on El Día de Los Muertos death - or at least the memories of those who have died - is something to be celebrated.

But there is a historical link between Halloween and the Day of the Dead. These days derive from related dates on the Catholic calendar. Halloween (October 31) is All Hallows' Eve, November 1 is All Hallows’ Day, and Nov. 2, El Día de Los Muertos, is All Souls' Day.

That means that Halloween and the Day of the Dead have been related since medieval times. And nowadays both are part of contemporary Mexican society.

So, if you happen to be celebrating Halloween in Puerto Vallarta, you'll find plenty of fun and frightening activities for all ages to enjoy - like US-style Halloween costume contests with substantial cash prizes at local bars and restaurants, and hordes of ghosts, goblins, super heroes and princesses chanting "Queremos Halloween!" ('We want Halloween' the Mexican version of "trick-or-treat") with outstretched hands (and bags) just waiting to be filled with candy.

For all the latest information about Vallarta's five-day Día de Los Muertos cultural festival, follow the event page on Facebook.