MECA invites diverse communities from Houston and beyond to join its annual Día de los Muertos Festival in the historic part of the Washington Avenue Arts District on October 29 and 30 from 11 am to 7 pm. In the spirit of the popular Latin American holiday, everybody is invited to partake in this joyful celebration of the family and friends who passed away, and rich traditions and customs surrounding the Día de los muertos and similar practices in other cultures.
Bringing together both festive and contemplative elements, the Festival features a two-stage live performance showcase reflective of Houston’s multicultural population; the exhibition of ofrendas (altars) by community members, local artists, and activists guest curated by Diana Muñiz (on display from October 10 to November 18); and children’s area with performances and attractions for all ages, including customary face-painting. Guests are invited to enjoy favorite Texan and Latin American foods and handpicked selection of booths by artisans and artists. A new addition to the Festival is a community health fair that will connect the Festival’s participants to vital resources at no cost.
To set the tone for the Festival and acknowledge its deep indigenous roots, the Aztec dance group Taxcayolotl will kick off this year’s events. MECA´s outdoor and auditorium stages will also feature: Tallercito de Son, son jarocho group from San Antonio; South Indian classical vocalist Prema Bhat; Solero Flamenco; and fusion pop group of MECA alumni Los Guerreros de la Música, among others. In addition, MECA’s own ballet folklórico (Mexican folkloric dance) students will hone their public performance skills showcasing dances such as viejada—the processional Day-of-the-Dead dance rooted in the heritage of the Veracruz’s huasteca people.
On the other hand, the Mexican tradition of creating altars to the deceased provides a safe space for the people from all walks of life to remember and grieve their loved ones. Similarly, the joyful character of the holiday helps educate and break the silence that tends to surround the experience that is universal. The altars exhibited at MECA show the voices of multiple cultures in Houston—not only Mexican or Latin American one.
The health fair will feature free children’s and flu immunizations; blood pressure, glucose, and vision screenings; hepatitis C and HIV testing; and nutrition education for kids.
The Festival is free and open to the public, and features attractions for all ages.
Additional events around the Festival include a ticketed costume party Calavera Rendezvous (October 21, 7–11 pm) and Día de los Muertos Fun Run (October 30, 8 am).
MECA’s 2016 Día de los Muertos Festival is supported in part by the grant from the Texas Commission on the Arts’ Cultural Districts Program.
Festival sponsors include: United Way, Goya, HEB, Faust Distributing and others.