20 photos of Mexico’s breathtaking Day of the Dead festival

Day of the Dead entertainers perform before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 29, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico.

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Day of the Dead entertainers perform before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 29, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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Getty Images

This year, El Día de los Muertos (or the Day of the Dead) started on October 31 and will end two days later.

For the holiday, families across Mexico gather in cemeteries and public squares to honor their deceased loved ones in traditional costumes and makeup.

Check out photos from the festivities and memorials below.


Mexico’s Day of the Dead festival is known for amazing skeletal makeup.

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Day of the Dead entertainers perform before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 29, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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Getty Images

Ecuador, Brazil, and Bolivia have their own festivities, too.

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Day of the Dead entertainers perform before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 29, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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Getty Images

Some people incorporate flower crowns, glitter, and jewels into their costumes.


The holiday dates back 3,000 years.


Tradition calls for lighting candles and bringing bouquets to the graves of family and friends. November 1 (called the Day of the Innocents) is meant to honor deceased infants and children, while November 2 (called the Day of the Dead) is a day to honor deceased adults.

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As they honor the life of their loved ones, people create decorative memorials.


For example, many Mexicans prayed for those who had died in the earthquake in Mexico City this September.


The ceremonies combine pre-colonial and Roman Catholic customs.

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Getty Images

A central idea surrounding the festivities is the Aztec belief that the dead come back to Earth for one day every year.

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Approximately 300,000 people turned out for the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City this year.

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Reuters

Source: The Guardian


This year’s celebration was three times as large as the one in 2016.

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Day of the Dead entertainers perform before the Formula One Grand Prix of Mexico at Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez on October 29, 2017 in Mexico City, Mexico.
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Getty Images

Traditionally, the Day of Dead only consisted of quiet family gatherings at graves. But in recent years, it has branched out to include mass celebrations with food and drink.

Source: The Associated Press


Art installations are a big part of the festivities in Mexico City.


Below, a man painted a Styrofoam skull for an arts competition as part of the parade.


Women often dress up as La Calavera Catrina, a popular Mexican skeleton character from the early 1900s.

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Women dressed up as “Catrinas”, a Mexican character also known as “The Elegant Death”, participate in a procession to commemorate Day of the Dead in Mexico City, Mexico, October 28, 2017.
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Reuters

The Day of the Dead is also often a day for activism. In 1997, sex workers in Mexico City honored people who died of AIDS.

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Reuters

In 2002, a crowd carried a banner that read “Guilliani dreamers never die” (in homage to the anti-globalization protester shot dead by a police officer the year before).

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Reuters

In 2016 and 2017, crowds marched to protest violence against women.


The rape and murder of 16-year-old Lucía Pérez in Argentina in October 2015 sparked the protests.

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Dressed as Catrinas, female protestors held signs and chanted “ni una más” (“not one more”).