Each year, more and more opportunities to celebrate Día de los Muertos pop up across the county. If you want to go all out, Disneyland is ramping up its Day of the Dead festivities this year because of the success of “Coco,” but you know how much it will cost to enjoy them: the price of admission to the park.

To keep it simple, we’ve put together a list of community-based events that are family-friendly. Most cost nothing to attend.


Downtown Anaheim Community Center
Time: 6:30 -9:30 p.m.
Where: Downtown Community Center, 250 E Center Street, Anaheim

This event benefits Project S.A.Y. (Support Anaheim’s Youth) Development Program. Enjoy a live mariachi band, arts and crafts, altars, vendors and food.

Anaheim Cemetery Día de los Muertos Celebration

Time: 6-8 p.m.
Where: Anaheim Cemetery, 1400 E. Sycamore St., Anaheim

(Photo courtesy of Anaheim Cemetery)

The event will begin with a short memorial service honoring deceased family members, conducted by Saint Anthony Mary Claret Catholic Church. Following the blessing there will be performances by mariachi musicians from the Rhythmo Mariachi Academy and Ballet Folklorico Donaji, a local youth dance troupe that performs traditional dances. While supplies last guests can enjoy free light refreshments, including Pan de Muertos baked by a local Anaheim Mexican bakery, and free small marigold bouquets. Children will also enjoy an assortment of fun Día de los Muertos crafts.

In honor of Day of the Dead, families are also invited to come to any of the District Cemeteries, including Anaheim Cemetery, Santa Ana Cemetery and El Toro Memorial Park in Lake Forest, to build personal ofrendas on the gravesites of treasured loved ones. Ofrendas may be placed on grave sites during extended holiday hours beginning through November 13. Only light flower clean-ups will occur during this extended holiday period.

Pretend City Children’s Museum
Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Where: 29 Hubble, Irvine

Admission: $12.50 adults and children; $9.50 military and family – this event is only free with admission.

At Pretend City, Día De Los Muertos is focused on fun for kids. Bring a photo of your loved one to add to their special altar. Activities include:

  • Art Studio Sessions: Tissue Paper Marigolds Marigolds (the “flower of the dead”) are often sprinkled on Mexican graves, as their sweet smell is believed to draw the deceased back to earth for the ‘día de los muertos’.
  • Smart Art: Sugar Skulls During this art activity in Orange Plaza, your child will learn the history behind the sugar skulls and create their very own using rainbow-colored felt pieces.
  • Sensational Story time (11:30 a.m.): I Remember Abuelito This story, written by Janice Levy, talks about the different traditions of this celebration and how we can honor our deceased loved ones. After the story, children will make their very own butterfly to take home.
  • Language Lessons (3:30 p.m.): Spanish Lesson Join a class in Orange Plaza for a mini-Spanish lesson led by teachers from Portal Languages.

Fairhaven Memorial Park & Mortuary, Santa Ana
Time: 7-8 p.m.
Where: Fairhaven’s Waverly Chapel, 1702 Fairhaven Avenue, Santa Ana.

Remember the departed with a special Día de los Muertos event. Bring a photo of your loved one to place at the altar. Memorial service will be officiated by Deacon Luis Gallardo. Featuring a traditional offertory and special entertainment by Los Pasejeros Mariachi and Relampago del Cielo dancers. Complimentary refreshments provided by EL INDIO Tortilleria.


Noche de Altares
Time: 1-10 p.m.
Where: 4th and Birch, Santa Ana

(Photo courtesy of El Centro Cultural de Mexico)

Since 2002, El Centro Cultural de Mexico has been organizing Noche de Altares, or a Night of Altars, a community-based Día de los Muertos celebration. In addition to viewing beautifully created altars, attendees will be entertained by cultural performances and live music. Children can get their faces painted and participate in free art workshops. Local artists will be selling their wares, and local restaurants are offering their most delicious dishes. Attendees will get photo opportunities with La Catrina, the modern-day icon of Día de los Muertos, created by Mexican artist Jose Guadalupe Posada.


The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, Fullerton
Time: 12-4 p.m.
Where: The Muckenthaler Cultural Center, 1201 W. Malvern Ave, Fullerton

You’ll find festive activities, stage performances and special ofrendas (altars) to honor deceased loved ones and to celebrate life. Featuring local artisans, crafters, and DIY enthusiasts. Original jewelry design, ceramics, home decor and housewares, art, and much more.

(Photo courtesy of The Muckenthaler)

Paul Hodgins is the senior editor of Arts & Culture at Voice of OC. He can be reached at phodgins@voiceofoc.org.

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