Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is Mexico’s ever-popular celebration honoring those who have passed on. In Sedona, this spectacular event occurs every year at Tlaquepaque.

Now in its seventh year, the Day of the Dead will take place Saturday, Oct. 28, from 2 to 8 p.m. Be sure to bring family, friends and young ones for an unforgettable cultural and entertainment extravaganza.

Traditionally, Dia de los Muertos starts weeks in advance of the day. As part of the observance, families gather to create special shrines in the home and prepare personal offrenda, or offerings, like pan de muerto, a special Day of the Dead bread, sugar skulls, candles, cempasuchil flowers, papier mache skeletons, and plates of favorite foods in remembrance of loved ones who have died.

It is believed that their spirits consume the essence and the aroma of the foods that are offered. When the spirits depart, the family, friends and neighbors who remain share the food together in celebration.
Face-painting booths will be open to transform faces into colorful skull masks during Tlaquepaque’s Day of the Dead celebration Saturday, Oct. 28.
In keeping with this tradition, Tlaquepaque, Sedona’s Mexican-inspired arts village, will be transformed with thousands of candles, papier mache katrinas, splashing fountains exquisitely decorated and beautiful altars ready to receive personal offrenda, like photos or favorite foods, in honor of departed relatives and friends. Patio del Norte will have a traditional altar set up to receive offrenda.

That is just for starters. The Day of the Dead celebration is jam-packed with entertainment and fun for everyone, including free face painting in Calle Independencia and Tlaquepaque North, a Day of the Dead-inspired shopping mercado, traditional Day of the Dead delectable edibles in Calle Independencia, a live Day of the Dead bride and groom in the chapel, and the crowd favorite, over-the-top fire dancing performances.

Costumes are encouraged. Plan to spend the entire day.

New this year is an exciting contest between local florists who will painstakingly create their own versions of Day of the Dead altars for cash prizes. Look for the contestants by location: Bliss Extraordinary Floral in Patio Azul, Sedona Mountain High Flowers in Tlaquepaque North and Jazz Bouquet Floral in Patio de Las Campanas.

A panel of judges will announce the winners at 3 p.m. Judges include Sedona Mayor Sandy Moriarty; Diego Colivero, owner of Feliz Navidad; Ken Heflin and Jim Bullock, owners of Events by Showstoppers; Wendy Lippman, general manager and resident partner of Tlaquepaque; and Barbara Mendez, academic adviser at Northern Arizona University.

Be sure to avoid the crowds and use offsite parking at 401 Jordan Road and the Uptown municipal parking lot at 260 Schnebly Road. There will be a free continuous shuttle from 2 to 9 p.m.

The Day of the Dead entertainment line-up for Saturday, Oct. 28, includes:

Anthony Mazella, 2 to 4 p.m., Patio del Norte. This virtuoso guitarist, recording artist and producer will blow your mind with his masterful and versatile guitar riffs.

Andres Martinez and Friends, 2 to 4:30 p.m., Patio de las Campanas. Enjoy their upbeat Afro-Caribbean rhythms, relaxing, soothing flamenco and samba sounds, and the danceable rhythms of Latin percussion. A perennial Tlaquepaque favorite.

Ballet Folklorico Quetzalli, 3 and 4 p.m., Plaza de la Fuente. Enjoy these gifted, multi-generational dancers in their bright costumes that become a swirl of colors as they tell stories of traditional Mexican village life through dance.

Gabriel Romo, 4 to 8 p.m. in the Chapel. Venture to the intimate setting in the Chapel to hear this exquisite Spanish guitarist, inspired by flamenco, Latin soul and a touch of jazz. There will be a live Day of the Dead bride and groom in the Chapel during Gabriel Romo’s performance from 4 to 8 p.m.

Gaetano Frankel Duo, 4:30 to 7 p.m., Patio de las Campanas. Another Tlaquepaque favorite brings to life the musical culture of Spain and Mexico in heart-pounding flamenco numbers.

Eric Miller on flamenco guitar, 5 to 8 p.m., Patio del Norte. This Sedona-favorite virtuoso guitarist will take you to fantastic places with his versatile repertoire of traditional and original musical numbers.

David Merino Duo, 5 to 8 p.m., Tlaquepaque North. Enjoy this gifted guitarist and his sultry sounds with a Mediterranean influence.
Patio del Norte will have a traditional altar set up to receive offrenda for loved ones who have died.
Violinist Teresa Joy, 5 to 8 p.m., Patio de las Rosas. Daughter of virtuoso and world renowned flamenco guitarist, Esteban, Teresa Joy plays violin with her father and solo. Her high-energy, screaming numbers are a joy to witness.
Fire performances start at 6 p.m. at Tlaquepaque North and 7 p.m. at Tlaquepaque South. Stay around for these dazzling dances with fire.

For kids and adults who want to really get into the mood, be sure to check out the Day of the Dead-themed face painting in Calle Independencia and Tlaquepaque North. Faces become literal works of art. The younger ones will enjoy super-fun sugar skull painting in Patios del las Campanas from 2 to 5 p.m.

For those who get hungry, visit El Mercado, where you can feast on agua frescas and fresh churros, traditional Day of the Dead bread, cookies, taquitos and hot chocolate. There will be several artisan booths vending popular Day of the Dead merchandise, as well.

Home to more than 45 boutique shops and world-class galleries and five restaurants, Tlaquepaque is at 336 SR 179. It is open daily at 10 a.m. Call 282-4838 or visit tlaq.com for more information.