The Dead Live: Halloween and Día de Muertos Themed Events in Los Cabos
Halloween has long since evolved in the United States from a child-focused neighborhood candy collecting contest to a holiday that may also safely be called the number one party excuse of the year for adults. Thus, for both children and adults, October 31 is a day of over-indulgence.
The modern incarnation more than somewhat obscures the original meaning of the holiday–All Hallow’s Eve–which kicks off the traditional three-day Christian feast of Allhallowtide, and remembers those that have passed away. In this sense, Halloween is relatively close in spirit to México’s Día de Muertos (which, although officially marked on November 2, is a three-day observance coinciding with Allhallowtide), although both are celebrated in markedly different ways.
It is only recently that Halloween (locally, Día de las Brujas, or Day of the Witches) has begun picking up traction in México. Visitors to Los Cabos can now see small costumed trick-or-treaters haunting the downtown districts of cape cities Cabo San Lucas and San José del Cabo on the final day of October, and business owners are cognizant to keep an adequate store of sweets on hand. Local restaurants and nightclubs, too, have seen the party-hearty culture that now surrounds the holiday in the U.S., and have responded with their own array of decadent costume themed bashes, as well as other spooky revelry.
Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead), meanwhile, is deeply ingrained in Mexican culture, and has been since the days of the Aztecs, when yearly festivals were held in honor of Mictecacihuatl, queen of the underworld. Nowadays, Mexicans will often visit the gravesites of deceased relatives during the holiday period–which consists of All Saints Day on Oct. 31, Día de los Inocentes on Nov. 1, and Día de Muertos on Nov. 2–or make ofrendas, “offerings” on small altars in their homes or in public places to honor the departed.
Altars are often adorned with food or drinks favored by the lost loved one, as well as things like candles, photos, calaveras de azúcar (candies in the shape of skulls), pan de muerto (special Day of the Dead bread ) and cempasúchil flowers (Aztec marigolds). Catrina figures, female skeletons dressed in elaborately colorful costumes, are also a common sight during Day of the Dead celebrations.
Got the two straight? Good, then here’s a roundup of the major events taking place this year in Los Cabos for Halloween and Day of the Dead.
Not surprisingly, the most traditional celebration of Day of the Dead, the 17th annual Festival de Día de Muertos, takes place in Baja Sur’s capital city of La Paz on Nov. 1 and 2. Creative altars and potential posters for next year’s festival will be displayed at Unidad Cultural Profesor Jesús Castro Agúndez (located on Calle Antonio Navarro, between Ignacio Altamirano and Héroes de la Independencia, Col. Centro). Prizes will be given to all winning entrants. For more information, click here (although you will need a passing familarity with the Spanish language. Hey, I said it was the most traditional).
There are a lot of scary things going on during Halloween in Los Cabos, but none are quite as terrifying as the 4th annual Ironman Los Cabos. Don’t believe me. You try swimming 2.4 miles, biking 112, and then running a full-length 26.2 mile marathon…all in the same day. This year’s grueling test is a special Halloween edition on Oct. 30. No ghosts or goblins will actually be present (stop pedalling and call a doctor if you see any), but participants will be treated to gorgeous views of the cape cities and their connecting coastal corridor. The run portion concludes in front of historic city hall in San José del Cabo. For more info, click here.
Prefer something a little less strenuous? Try dinner at Don Sanchez. Chef Tadd Chapman’s downtown restaurant is one of the best in all of Baja Sur, and proceeds from this year’s special Day of the Dead dinner are going to benefit Liga M.A.C., a local charity dedicated to helping low-income individuals and families. The multi-course “contemporary Mexican fusion” feast will be complemented by fine wines, a tequila tasting and live entertainment courtesy of Mexican chanteuse Luna Itzel. For more information, click here or here.
Another local dinner showplace, Flora Farms, will also be honoring Day of the Dead with its now traditional altar contest. Onsite restaurant Flora’s Field Kitchen was named one of the 25 best restaurants in Mexico this year by culinary website The Daily Meal, so don’t forget to make dinner reservations. For more information, click here or here.
Flora Farms may have started the intimate farm-to-table dining movement in Los Cabos, but in recent years other excellent agricultural enterprises cum eateries have followed suit, including the outstanding Huerta Los Tamarindos and Acre. The latter, which will unveil the area’s first treehouse accommodations later this year, is also hosting a festive La Bruja freak show party for Halloween. For more info, click here or here.
The most spectacular hotel to open in the region during the past several years is undoubtedly The Cape: A Thompson Hotel. Set at Sunset Point, a scenic spot that looks out over Playa Monumentos (one of México’s best surf breaks) and the 30-million-year-old granitic monuments at Land’s End in Cabo San Lucas, The Cape has also made a reputation as one of the premier local drinking and dining spots. Chef Enrique Olvera, whose Mexico City based Pujol is ranked among the top 20 restaurants in the world, helms the onsite dinner mecca Manta. The rooftop lounge, meanwhile, is a popular spot for music and late night merriment. The rooftop lounge and its stunning views will be on full display Oct. 29, when the hotel hosts a costume themed party featuring special guest DJ Terkko. To find out more, click here
All previous parties are merely prelude, however, for what may be the most massive Halloween celebration ever seen in Cabo San Lucas. Over 40 DJs and 2000 dance lovers will honor the dead with over 120 straight hours of EDM (electronic dance music) aboard Norwegian Sun’s “Groove Cruise Cabo” 2016. The high-seas rave-up departs San Diego on Oct. 28, with an overnight stay for even more partying in Cabo San Lucas proper. Perhaps appropriately, the ship weighs anchor on Day of the Dead, since the guests will presumably be sleeping like them all the way back to San Diego. For more information, click here.
In other news, sushi standout Daikoku will host another Halloween costume contest, and beloved local party palaces El Squid Roe, Mandala, Rockstone Tavern and La Vaquita will bring their own signature brand of late night horror for Halloween. See the relevant links for additional information.