Every year at the start of November, Mexicans take to the streets to celebrate Day of the Dead. The festival is included on UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity, and while often linked with Halloween, is a separate event focused on celebrating the lives of friends and family members who has passed away. Expect to see staples of Mexican culture everywhere once activities kick off, usually on the 31st October until the end of the day on the 2nd November.
One of the most recognisable parts of the Day of the Dead celebration is the face paint. Revellers cover their faces in designs similar to the sugar skulls that decorate homes during the festival. The patterns are inspired by La Calavera Catrina, an early 20th-century etching of a female skeleton wearing a hat. People also craft papel picado – designs made of brightly coloured paper – to hang up in their houses and in public squares. As well as dressing up, families visit the graves of their deceased loved ones to build altars loaded with offerings of food like pan de muerto,and family photos. Marigold petals are often scattered across graves too, to help guide spirits to their graves.
The Día de los Muertos festivities really do have to be seen to be believed. So, if you fancy it, we recommend making the trip to Mexico to see it. In Puerto Vallarta on the Pacific Coast, expect to see face painting and fancy dress. Follow the trail of the shrines on display, and take a stroll along the Malecón, which is peppered with quirky street art and sculptures, and the route of the town’s carnival procession. And, over on the Caribbean Coast, head to downtown Cancun to experience traditional Day of the Dead food, altars, and performances by local artists.
There’s plenty to do after the festivities have ended. Mexico has plenty of sandy spots to choose from if you want a chilled break, while party-lovers should head to Cancun to experience some of the world’s best nightclubs. Celeb-spotters will love Los Cabos, famous for attracting the Hollywood elite, and history-buffs have Mayan ruins like Chichen Itza and Tulum to explore.
The Riu Palace Riviera Maya is just five minutes' drive from Playa del Carmen's stylish 5th Avenue.
This adults-only hotel is on a peaceful swathe of beach. Here, luxuries like whirlpool baths in the rooms and gourmet dining come as standard.
In a prime spot on the Riviera Maya, the beachfront TUI SENSATORI Riviera Cancun offers up a taste of the finer things in life.
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