On Saturday, October 27, 2018, the dead walked the grounds of Hollywood Forever Cemetery – or so it appeared. Actually, it was the 19th annual Dia De Los Muertos Festival, and many visitors sported costumed variations on the traditional calaca (skeleton) figure associated with Day of the Dead. Others opted for elaborate Aztec garb in honor of this year’s theme, “Coatlicue, Mother of the Gods” (the Aztec goddess who gave birth to the moon, stars, and sun). One or two young gringos, apparently unclear on the concept, showed up in Halloween costumes, as a zombie or the Grim Reaper – which, given benefit of the doubt, are not completely out of keeping with the Day of the Dead.
Despite the name and location, the Dia De Los Muertos Festival was far from morbid. The all-day event (noon to midnight) felt more like a celebration, featuring a multitude of artfully arranged altares de muertos (memorials featuring offerings to the departed, who are believed to return on the Day of the Dead). In addition, there were multiple live musical performances on stages and other areas around the grounds of Hollywood Forever Cemetery, and a photo exhibition displayed beautiful images from past Dia De Los Muertos festivals. Really, the only thing lowering spirits was the unseasonably warm weather.
Dia De Los Muertos actually falls on November 1, so expect to see other celebrations around Los Angeles on that day. The annual Dia De Los Muertos Festival will return to Hollywood Forever Cemetery next year.