One of the most frequent questions I get asked about Mexico is where and how to celebrate Day of the Dead in Mexico.
Because Day of the Dead is a centuries-old celebration that exists throughout Mexico (and in different forms, throughout Latin America), there are SO many options for places to experience Day of the Dead in Mexico, with each one unique.
Considering as many factors as possible (including ease of access, openness to visitors, authenticity, and the beauty of the celebration), I’d recommend Mixquic as the ultimate place to experience Day of the Dead in Mexico.
Why You should Experience Day of the Dead in Mixquic:
1. You can base yourself in Mexico City
Cathedral of Mexico City
Even if you’re short on vacation days or don’t want to mess around with buses or domestic flights, you can still experience Day of the Dead in Mexico if you choose Mixquic as your location.
Simply fly into Mexico City, one of the most fun, best value, and best-connected (there are SO many inexpensive, direct flights into CDMX!) cities in the world. It’s one of my favorite cities EVER and chock FULL of activities even aside from Day of the Dead, making it a great place to base yourself.
Mixquic, the site of amazing, traditional Day of the Dead celebrations, is located on the outskirts of Mexico City, and there are inexpensive, transportation-included guided tours to bring you to visit the gorgeous, authentic celebration that welcomes respectful visitors (or you can easily DIY your transport, which I’ll discuss below in #2).
Mixquic, which itself doesn’t have much in terms of accommodation options, is the perfect place to experience Mexican Day of the Day if you want to base yourself in Mexico City (or you could also choose a different nearby city, like Puebla).
2. Mixquic is easy to reach
decorated graves in Mixquic for Day of the Dead
From Mexico City you can:
- take an uber to and from Mixquic
- arrange a roundtrip transfer with your hotel
- go with Viator (as I did) and they’ll arrange everything for you. Easy peasy.
- rent a car and drive yourself
While doing the trip with Viator is affordable and the most low-stress option (you just jump on the tour bus and the guides do everything else), visiting Mixquic Day of the Dead really is a trip you can do yourself, I promise.
3. Mixquic’s Day of the Dead festivities are vibrant and varied
a dance performance representing one of the many cultures of Mexico
There are a couple different areas and aspects of the Mixquic Dia de Muertos celebration, including:
- Carnival/festival-style booths selling snacks and sweets, souvenirs, jewelry, and clothing
- A stage where traditional dancing is performed
- A church, also presenting exhibits about Mixquic Dia de Muertos (in Spanish)
- The cemetery with flower decorations and candles
- People wandering dressed like Catrinas and in more “American-style” Halloweenesque costumes
4. Mixquic locals welcome tourists for the festivities
banner welcoming visitors to Day of the Dead in Mixquic
This is a very important consideration when choosing where to celebrate Day of the Dead. In many smaller communities around Mexico, Dia de los Muertos is a more private, family affair, where a tourist’s presence would be at best awkward and at worst offensive.
Mixquic’s celebrations are very open and welcoming, and are the perfect introduction to Day of the Dead for a first-timer.
Mixquic was my first Day of the Dead in Mexico, and I am SO glad it was. I learned so much and felt very comfortable. As someone who is uncomfortable around death (that’s something I’m working on), and in big crowds, and concerned about not being culturally intrusive, I was a bit anxious before the holiday. I was so glad to find out that I had nothing to be worried about. The many food and trinket booths, and variety of activities (everything from pony rides to kids’ games and beyond), provided other distractions if hanging out in the cemetery felt overwhelming.
5. The decorations are beautiful
ain intricately flower-decorated grave on Day of the Dead in Mixquic
I’ve also been to Oaxaca for Day of the Dead, and I have to admit I found San Andres Mixquic even more stunning, with so many colorful flowers used.
The time, energy, and care (and money!) that goes into each of the grave decorations, and decorations around the church, is absolutely awe-inspiring.
6. The celebrations are authentic
candles illuminating a San Andres Mixquic grave at night on Day of the Dead
As a cultural outsider, I am NOT quick to classify anyone’s practice as authentic or inauthentic. However, there are many celebrations around Mexico that have been created specifically to satisfy tourists’ desire to see Day of the Dead, and are not actually part of a meaningful local tradition. This includes the James Bond-inspired Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City, which was started in 2016 as a response to angry tourists’ demand to experience what they saw in the movie, and staged performances in Cancun and the Riviera Maya.
Day of the Dead in Mixquic is a long-standing, local tradition centered around the graves of loved ones buried in the church cemetery. Over the years it has grown and expanded, and recently more tourists have begun appearing, but it is still very much a local celebration, which is important to keep in mind. Tourists should always be aware that while the celebration has a festive air, the point is still to remember and celebrate lost loved ones, and respect for the sacredness and solemnity of this occasion is deserved.