Day of the Dead Tour
10 DAYS – DIA DE LOS MUERTOS IN MEXICO
I had the pleasure of sharing a wonderful trip to Oaxaca to experience the cultural traditions surrounding el “Day of the Dead.” I brought my daughter along for this week-long immersion in the culture and traditions of this celebration. The entire trip was designed so that we would have a personal connection with the artisans and villagers and get to know them and their families while learning about their craft and traditions and having a hands on experience in the process. The week flew by with each day a new and exciting learning experience. We had lovely accommodations in the city of Oaxaca within walking distance of markets, restaurants, plazas and churches. The food was excellent and our tour guide was knowledgeable and friendly.I would highly recommend this tour to anyone interested in participating in the Día de los Muertos culture and traditions of Oaxaca. I look forward to future trips with the Educational Adventures Company.
Day of the dead tour
Day of the Dead, Día de Muertos, is a popular Mexican holiday, and Oaxaca holds one of the largest Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico. The holiday centers around gathering family and friends in remembrance of loved ones who have passed away. People gather to honor the deceased, support them in their journey to the afterlife, and encourage them to visit the land of the living.
Want to experience the day of the dead?
Day of the Dead festivities in Oaxaca take place between October 31st and November 2nd. The city bursts into a giant festival. People spend months preparing for the massive celebration that attracts people from around the world. Our Day of the Dead Tour will take you behind the scenes and to intimate gatherings where you will experience the preparations, the foods, and the traditions that make Day of the Dead in Oaxaca so special.
- Airport Pickup
- Welcome meeting at hotel lobby
- Welcome Dinner at Expendio Tradición
Your airport transport will deliver you to the NaNa Vida Boutique Hotel. NaNa Vida is committed to hospitality; where culture, art and the flavors of Oaxaca live together. You will be staying steps away from the Santo Domingo Convent, in the heart of Oaxaca.
Your tour begins in NaNa Vida’s courtyard where you will meet other travelers as well as your experienced local Mexican guide who will teach, support and assist you throughout your tour. Then it’s off to an incredible welcome dinner for your first delightful taste of Oaxaca! At Expendio Tradición their chef Juan Vega is well known for his original take on local ingredients and traditional cuisine. Dinner will be accompanied by the aromas and flavors of the best mezcals from the house of Tradición Chagoya.
- w/breakfast & lunch
- Walking Tour Downtown Oaxaca
- Santo Domingo Convent
- Museum of Oaxacan Cultures
- 20th of November Market
- Textile Museum
- Rufino Tamayo Museum
First things first: breakfast. All of your breakfasts throughout the trip will be served at your hotel. You can look forward to a hearty and delicious meal to start each day off.
You will kick off your city explorations with a walking tour of Oaxaca. Your guide will take you through a stroll through some of the city’s focal points. They will help you get oriented as you begin to discover the architecture, culture, history and customs that make Oaxaca so special.
One of your stops will be at the church of Santo Domingo, a central landmark. The building itself is a stunning structure, built between 1570 and 1608 as part of a Dominican monastery. Inside, you will marvel at the complex decoration and design. In addition to its historical and religious significance, the area around Santo Domingo has also become a social hotspot, and it is yet another wonderful place to people watch and take in la vida cotidiana, daily life.
Located in the monastery buildings adjoining Templo de Santo Domingo, the El Museo de las Culturas de Oaxaca (Museum of Oaxacan Cultures) is known as the best museum for miles. You will find yourself swept up in fascinating displays presenting the history and cultures of the state of Oaxaca.
For lunch, you will also make your way to one of Oaxaca’s famous bustling food markets: El Mercado 20 de Noviembre, or the November 20th Market. The market is known for its “Pasillo de las Carnes” or Hall of Meats. Here, you can choose from a wide variety of raw meats and have it grilled to your liking. There are also plenty of other food vendors to choose from, all serving up a wide range of Oaxacan specialities.
The Zócalo is the thriving heart of the city centro. The scene at the Zócalo changes slightly between daytime and nighttime, but it is always pulsing with life. The city’s main plaza is the perfect place to people-watch, have a snack, play with ridiculously large balloons, and take in the Oaxacan social scene.
The Textile Museum, el Museo Textil. This museum houses thousands of different textiles, embroidery, and beadwork. Included are pieces from Oaxaca and all over the world, giving you a chance to explore the similarities and differences between works from a variety of cultures.
After lunch we’ll wander through the Rufino Tamayo Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art where pre-Columbian times are revealed through stunning art pieces. Rufino Tamayo (1899 – 1991) was a painter and collector and remains one of Oaxaca’s most famous artists. He spent his lifetime collecting Pre-Columbian masterpieces, which are now housed in this top-notch museum.
- w/breakfast & lunch
- Tlacolula Market
- Gathering cooking class ingredients
- Santa Maria del Valle
- Cooking Class
Sunday is market day at Tlacolula’s traditional market about 40 minutes outside of Oaxaca City. You will find everything from artisan crafts to fresh veggies to tejate – a traditional maize and cocoa beverage prepared in large clay pots. Take your time meandering, taking in the colors of the traditional clothing, chatting with locals, and trying new goodies, toasted crickets maybe?
This is also a time to join your teacher as she gathers the ingredients for your afternoon cooking class. You will experience the meal from beginning to end, the end being the eating!
Oaxaca is known for its incredible cuisine no matter the time of year, but some things are only made when Día de Muertos rolls around. Today, you will learn some of the secrets to making traditional Día de Muertos food at a fun, hands-on cooking class. Your class will be taught by an experienced traditional Oaxacan cook, who will guide you through the entire process. This is a festive and informative activity that you are sure to remember long after you eat the fruits of your labor.
Next we’re off to join Doña Dalia’s cooking class in Santa Ana del Valle. Traditional Mexican cuisine was recognized as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO and along with this came the responsibility of Mexico’s traditional cooks to carry on this cultural heritage. 90% of these cooks, known as cocineras tradicionales, are women. Today you will surround yourself with clay pots and join Dalia in preparing a traditional Oaxacan meal. She will share her kitchen as well as her heritage culminating in heartfelt sharing of food and an explosion of flavors.
- w/Breakfast & Lunch
- Pan de Muerto Workshop
- Presentation: What is the Altar of the Dead, Altar de Muertos?
- Market visit for altar supplies
- Workshop: Building the Altar de Muertos
Today, you will have a much better understanding of the traditions and elements that go into creating an altar, and you will experience for yourself how it’s done. We will begin with the delicious & slightly sweet bread, Pan de muerto that is made in the weeks leading up to Día de Muertos. This morning’s Day of the Dead workshop will teach you about this special bread, its significance, and how to make it.
With the bread in and out of the oven, you will move on to the historical background of the Day of the Dead. In this presentation you will discover the religious symbolism, the various rituals, the ethnic foods, and the traditions of setting up & breaking down the Day of the Dead altar.
Next stop is a market visit to gather supplies for your Day of the Dead altar: Tissue paper, papel picado, flowers, skulls, calaveras, and more! Now you are ready for the altar building workshop where you will also add your personal touches.
- w/ Breakfast & Dinner
- Monte Alban visit
- Afternoon Free time
- Huayapam Cemetery
- San Felipe Cemetery
This morning we’ll get an early start just 25 minutes outside of Oaxaca to the small city and municipality of San Cruz Xoxocotlán. From there, you will experience and explore yet another one of Oaxaca’s wonders: Monte Albán. Monte Albán is one of Mesoamerica’s earliest cities and was an economic center for close to a thousand years. Strolling through the ruins you will learn more about Monte Albán’s fascinating story and feel its significance in today’s society.
In the afternoon you are on your own for lunch and to personalize your explorations. Maybe some shopping, people-watching in the Zocalo, eating a delicious elote, corn on the cob, or otherwise enjoying the afternoon in Oaxaca.
In the evening, we will travel to rural cemeteries to see a beautiful array of offerings, ofrendas, candle-lit vigils, and folks gathered to celebrate and remember loved ones. Although we are welcome to be there, please be respectful and considerate as you walk around, and always ask permission before taking photos.
- w/ Breakfast & Dinner
- Botanic Garden: Casa Vives Verde
- Afternoon Free Time
- Santa Ana del Valle
- Day of the Dead Dinner with local traditions
Oaxaca’s natural beauty is brought together at the “Vives Verde”, a magical place that was converted from a garbage dump to a garden of sculptures and botanical beauties.The garden represents the broad diversity of geological formations, types of vegetation and climates that characterize Oaxaca.
You will have a free afternoon before wrapping up the Day of Dead festivities with a return to Santa Ana del Valle to join Doña Dalia for a special dinner infused in local traditions.
- w/breakfast & lunch
- Workshop: masks, mascaras
- La Mano Magica Gallery
- Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo Yanhuitlán
- Manuel Reyes’ artist home visit and lunch
Oaxaca is known for its paper craft creations, brightly colored, large and small, happy, dark and often bizarre! Using paper as a medium was brought to Mexico during the colonial era and Oaxaca has truly made the most of it. A short walk away is this morning’s paper craft workshop where you will meet Boris Loredo, aka Spider at his workshop, Taller De La Araña.
After you have created your own art we’ll take a walk to La Mano Mágica. Some call La Mano Mágica a gallery for its paintings, prints, and original sculptures by local and international artists. Others refer to it as a museum store for its beautiful collection of Mexican artwork, traditional and contemporary. Buying or just browsing, there is something for everyone, you are sure to enjoy the visit.
To the northeast of the city of Oaxaca is the town of Yanhuitlán. In colonial times Yanhuitlán was a commercial center of the Mixtec people with the temple and former convent of Santo Domingo, Ex-Convento de Santo Domingo being built around the middle of the 16th century. The temple houses an antique pipe organ dating to 1700.
For lunch we will join Manuel Reyes in his home. Manuel is a ceramic artist, sculptor and painter and you will hear how he returned to the Mixteca to re-establish his roots and how that has influenced his life and his art.
- w/breakfast & lunch
- San Martin Tilcajete
- Workshop: Alebrijes painting
- San Bartolo Coyotepec
- Workshop: Black Clay
Colorfully painted and meticulously-detailed wooden animal figures alebrijes shout Oaxaca! This morning we will travel to the small town of San Martín Tilcajete, a small town of less than two thousand residents known for its alebrije craft. Wooden alebrijes have their roots in the paper based handcrafts of central Mexico. Today you’ll meet a family of artisans that will share their history, and their craft as they welcome you into their workshop to paint your own alebrije.
Lunch takes place at the Azucena Zapoteca Restaurant offering a unique ancestral experience. Serving traditional food that reflects the aroma and flavor of the Oaxacan Valleys, from the Zapotec land to its folklore and culture.
Black clay South of Oaxaca lies San Bartolo Coyotepec, famous for its black clay artisans. Black clay pottery is one of Oaxaca’s unique ancestral crafts. Barro negro pottery dates back to the Monte Albán period and continues to be prevalent in today’s society. In this afternoon’s black clay workshop you will feel its history, literally! Get your hands dirty, work the clay, imagine its origins, and cut your unique design as the potter shares his art and skills and guides you in creating your individual barro negro design. Your creation will be fired in the coming days and delivered to you at Nana Vida.
- w/breakfast, lunch & dinner
- Teotitlán del Valle
- Workshop: Natural Dye
- Mezcaleria & Palenque visit
- Farewell dinner
Teotitlán del Valle is known for its truly remarkable textile production. Over 70% of the village’s population is connected in some way with textile production. For our visit we’ve chosen a studio that is committed to the traditional practice of using natural dyes. Their commitment extends to teaching and encouraging other artisans to recover this traditional practice. This craft is over a thousand years old and the harvesting & processing of the pigments is as interesting as the practice of dying fibers into long lasting and vibrant colors. During our visit and workshop you will learn where the pigments are found, how to process them, and you will dye a natural fiber fabric.
While your fabric is drying under the Oaxacan sun, your lunch is prepared and served to you in the home of these same artisans. In the words of Cesar Chavez, “the people who give you their food give you their heart. ”
The 11 varieties of agave that are native to Oaxaca are the foundation of Mezcal so it’s no wonder that Oaxaca produces 60% of Mexico’s mezcal. After lunch at the palenque and mezcaleria you will experience the traditional method of roasting the agave in underground wood-fired pits and the distilling in small-batch, copper pot stills. For mezcal there exists an “Appellation of Origin,” as well as a collection of regulations, Norma Oficial Mexicana, Official Mexican Standard, that governs the process of certification, verification and the monitoring of mezcal. You will have the opportunity to purchase after you taste how agave varieties combined with the distillation techniques introduced by the Spaniards results in mezcals with distinct characteristics.
For our farewell dinner we’ll gather and say goodbye to your amazing guide and the new friends that have shared this Oaxaca experience. Enjoy another fabulous dinner followed by one last evening stroll on Oaxaca’s cobbled streets.
- Airport Transfer
These are not your average tours! Our tours are amazing because we connect you with the people. You will be welcomed with open arms and warm hearts. You’ll arrive as strangers and leave as friends.