There are obviously going to be a TON of Halloween events in the week to come (one being our Freakin’ Halloween party next Wednesday 10/31), but there are also a couple of Day of the Dead celebrations here in New York that you shouldn’t overlook. If you don’t already know, Day of the Dead (or Día de los Muertos in Spanish) is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the deceased; it occurs on November 1st and 2nd in conjunction with All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and although it deals with morbid themes, it’s not meant to be a scary time. Instead, people create offerings of items that deceased loved ones enjoyed in life (like candies, tobacco, beverages, etc.) and leave these out as a way of honoring the dead, whose souls are believed to come back to earth during the holiday.
If you want to load up on Day of the Dead gear (which you do, because it’s all fantastic and colorful), there are a couple of solid options to choose from in NYC:
- For all you Brooklynites, I’d have to recommend Fuego 718 (249 Grand Street) in Williamsburg. If you don’t believe me, maybe you will believe the high ratings on Yelp since everyone knows Yelp is filled with professionals and geniuses! You’ll find all sorts of things there, from calavera flasks (SO NECESSARY) to skull pillows to edible sugar skulls.
- I’d also recommend Huitzilli (624 Metropolitan Avenue) for a good selection of Mexican handicrafts; they hosted a DIY sugar skulls workshop on Saturday that I unfortunately had to miss, but they are now on my radar as a Day of the Dead hotspot.
- Or you can just hop on the train and hit up La Sirena (27 E. 3rd Street) in the East Village, where you’ll find lots of folk art, sugar skull molds, etc.
- But if it’s pan de muerto you’re looking for (which is a delicious bread eaten during the Day of the Dead celebrations), it couldn’t hurt to investigate your nearest Mexican bakery (provided one exists semi-close by); however, Serious Eats has already profiled Don Paco Lopez for its selection of pan de muerto, so for a sure bet head to either of the two locations, one in Manhattan and the other in Brooklyn.
There are also a couple of different Day of the Dead events to take advantage of starting October 27th, so here are five you might consider attending:
- For instance, at the National Museum of the American Indian you can check out a free Day of the Dead celebration, which will include live musical performances, dancing, and opportunities to test out your skills (or lack thereof) at creating traditional Mexican crafts like paper flowers and skull masks. (Possible Halloween costume opportunity?!)
- You can also head to Halloween at NYSCI, which, despite its exclusion of “Day of the Dead” in the event title, includes a few activities geared towards Mexico, including DIY papel picado (colorful banners) and the decoration of a giant piñata. Just think about that. A giant piñata. AMAZING. I think the event is aimed at families, but they will just have to adopt us for the day.
- Another one that appears to be targeting families is Halloween-Remixed in Flushing, but again, you should just latch onto a family and be like, “Family time REMIXED.” You want to go to this one because there’s a DIY sugar skulls workshop AND people will be telling ghost stories, which is always awesome.
- OR you can check out St. Mark’s Church at 10th Street & 2nd Avenue for a variety of different activities between November 1st and 4th, including craft and poetry workshops, musical performances and Mexican food. (Mmmmmm Mexican food.)
- Not prepared to leave Brooklyn? Head to Sunset Park for Día de los Muertos Brooklyn, where you can bring items reflecting your own deceased loved ones and add them to a large altar installation honoring the dead. (These items could theoretically be anything, but probably avoid bringing anything illegal and/or embarrassing; just because your weird dead uncle was into it doesn’t mean everyone else will be!) There will also be live music at that one, so if you’re in the neighborhood on November 2nd between 7 and 11pm, then probably swing by and check it out.
Can’t wait that long and/or still creeped out by all the talk about death and skulls? Take a more immediate, low-key approach tonight at Rosa Mexicano’s Fall Harvest Dinner, where you can enjoy a seasonal menu. (Read: INHALE SO MUCH CLASSY MEXICAN FOOD.) The dishes listed are absurdly delicious-sounding, with a lineup that includes guacamole tossed with toasted hazelnuts and pomegranate seeds, grilled lobster and sea scallop tacos with pumpkin seeds, sliced duck with apples and pears, an ancho chile pumpkin cheesecake and MORE. I can pretty much guarantee the souls of at least one person’s dead ancestors will ditch out on the spread at home in Mexico to come hover over your shoulder as you eat this ridiculously amazing meal. They also have some pretty solid autumn cocktails over there, so if you’re looking for a delicious opportunity to mask your drinking “problem” in festiveness, then I think you’ve found your spot. (Fun fact: if you add a dash of cinnamon and/or nutmeg to your drink, it cancels out the potential for you to be considered an alcoholic; you’re just really into celebrating the holiday season!) Here are some drool-worthy photos:
Are you planning to celebrate Day of the Dead this year in NYC? TELL US ABOUT IT IN THE COMMENTS AND/OR INVITE US TO YOUR PARTY.