About This Festival
If you’re a fan of arts and music events and also happen to like Halloween, pack your bags for San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, and celebrate a different kind of Halloween here. La Calaca Festival is a participatory arts festival that brings together interactive arts installations; local businesses, individuals and arts organizations; and visitors from Mexico and elsewhere to witness art and creativity inspired by Dia de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead).
Jump right in and learn about the holiday, tour through the wealth of art installations, hit the party circuit, hear a variety of music, and celebrate the dead along with the community. We’re all headed there, eventually.
Dia de los Muertos
This Meso-American holiday is centered on the understanding that death is merely a part of life’s cycle, and remembers friends and family members who have died. The dates of the celebration are the same as the Christian All Hallows’ Eve (Halloween), All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day.
In Mexico, families gather in local cemeteries to share music, food and fun with their community, both living and departed. Detailed and beautiful altars are created, featuring marigolds, sugar skulls, and favorite foods of the departed. The celebration acknowledges that we still have a relationship with our ancestors and loved ones who have passed away.
During the days of the festival, events take place at multiple venues throughout the city. Daytime events immerse participants in cultural activities, such as live art installations, creative workshops, and tours of cemeteries and traditional altars. The evenings are dominated by costumed processions, musical performances and parties that last until sunrise. If you’re a party person, remember that going all out for multiple days/nights may mean you’ll crash early—it’s a marathon and not a sprint.
The festival facilitates interactions between patron and artist by crowd funding on the festival website. More than 60 artists seek funding for projects that explore the themes of Dia de los Muertos, and many of those projects continue to enrich the Colonia Guadalupe Arts District long after La Calaca.
La Calaca History
Begun in 2012, La Calaca isn’t exactly full of years of history, but the desire to celebrate Mexico’s cultural traditions is worth a look. While some travelers avoid the entire country due to incidents in only a few regions, festival founders wanted to link the explosion of arts and creativity with the ancient traditions that are celebrated in San Miguel de Allende during Dia de los Muertos.
While you’re in San Miguel de Allende, take advantage of the time between La Calaca events to take a look around. The birthplace of Ignacio Allende, one of the leaders of the army during Mexico’s War of Independence, the city had his name attached in 1826. Historic chapels, churches and homes (among them: Santa Cruz del Chorro Chapel, Las Monjas and Parroquia of San Miguel Archangel) can take more than an entire day to visit, so space them out to get a taste during your stay.
The city’s colonial architecture, featuring baroque and neo-classical designs, were admired by foreign artists who began to spend time here and start cultural centers, including the Allende Institute and School of Fine Arts, giving the city a reputation that attracts artists, including David Alfaro Siqueiros.