Photo by: Mary Bell Photography/Flickr

Día de los Muertos, also known as Day of the Dead, is a Mexican holiday which takes place October 31, November 1, and November 2. Rather than focus on the somberness of death, it truly is a celebration of the dead. It’s a festive and colorful holiday where families and friends remember loved ones who’ve died and support their spiritual journey. They also make ofrendas (decorated alters) to welcome these spirits who return to be with their families. Looking to be part of the celebration? Below are events happening in Santa Ana worth checking out.

Saturday, October 31

Day of the Dead Festival at Bower’s Museum

The Bowers and Bowers Kidseum will celebrate all weekend, Saturday and Sunday, with a free family festival and free museum admission. Festivities will include live music and dance performances, face painting, and sugar skull decorating. At Bowers Kidseum, there will be a special exhibition of “Casa de las Calaveras” by artist George Newman.

Free | 10:00am to 4:00pm | 2002 North Main Street

The Fall Spooktacular at Westfield Mainplace

Held at Macy’s Court inside Westfield MainPlace, the event celebrates Halloween with the traditions of Día de los Muertos which will include arts & crafts, DJ, skull mask painting, and a Día de los Muertos photo booth. At 3:30, there will be a costume parade and mall wide trick-or-treating starts at 4.

Free | 2:00am to 4:00pm | Macy’s Court at Westfield Mainplace, 2800 N. Main St.

Sunday, November 1

Viva La Vida Día de los Muertos Festival at Santa Ana Train Station

This is the first annual event, organized by community members, which will transform the Santa Ana Train Station into a festival honoring the ancient traditions of the holiday through art and culture. Attendees will view beautifully created alters, be able to buy local artwork from vendors while being entertained by cultural performances and live music.

Free | 11:00am to 9:00pm | 1000 E Santa Ana Blvd

Day of the Dead Group Bike Ride

This is a family friendly ride, all ages welcomed, hosted by Bicycle Tree, a nonprofit community bicycle center. This ride is aimed at commemorating those that have lost their lives in fatal bicycle collisions in the city and surrounding areas. There will also will be offering face painting along with snacks.

Free | Meet at 1:00pm, Ride starts at 3:00pm | 811 North Main Street

Monday, November 2

Día de los Muertos Service at Fairhaven Memorial Park

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary will host its Fourth Annual Día de los Muertos Service at 6 p.m. on Friday, November 2 at the North Gardens Pavilion in Fairhaven Memorial Park. The remembrance and celebration will include a memorial service conducted by Deacon Gallardo from Our Lady of Pillar Catholic Church, ofrendas, live music, and the sharing of the traditional pan de muerto, a soft round bread covered in sugar.

Free | 6:00pm | 1702 Fairhaven Ave

Wednesday, November 4

Screening of The Book of Life at Santa Ana Public Library

In celebration of Día de los Muertos, the Santa Ana Public Library will be screening the Golden Globe nominated animated film, The Book of Life (2014) which depicts the world of the Latin-American tradition of Día de los Muertos through its colorful characters and music. There will be a special performance just prior to the screening of the film, and light refreshments inspired by Día de los Muertos will be served. Free metered parking is available after 6 p.m. on Ross Street, or 2-Hour validation is available for the parking structure next to the library on Civic Center Drive.

Free | 6:00pm |  26 Civic Center Plaza

Saturday, November 7

Noche de Altares at Calle Cuatro

In it’s 13th year, Noche de Altares (Night of the Altars), is the largest Día de los Muertos celebration in Orange County. Hosted by non-profit organization El Centro Cultural de Mexico, Noche de Altares is a free, family-friendly community event. Attendees are invited to build an altar in memory of a deceased loved one or to bring awareness to a social issue. Throughout the day there will be arts and crafts workshops, face painting, local art (it also coincides with downtown Santa Ana’s monthly art walk) delicious food from local restaurants and vendors, along with live music. There will also be photo opportunities with La Catrina, the modern-day icon of Día de los Muertos created by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe.

Free | noon to 10:00pm |  Birch and Fourth St

Sunday, November 8

Sunday on Main Open Streets

Also known as SOMOS, on Sunday, between 9am and 2pm, a huge stretch of Main Street will be closed off to cars and opened to cyclists and pedestrians. The 3.1 mile route connects historic south Main Street (starting at Warner Avenue) with the city’s vibrant downtown area (ending at 5th Street). This year, to celebrate  Día de los Muertos, the event will feature decorations associated with the yearly festivity. Entertainment and activities such as 15 minute sessions of Zumba, and various children events will also be featured throughout the route.

Free | 9:00am to 2:00pm |  Main Street (From Warner Ave to 4th St)

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