Arrive at any time. Arrival transfer is included. El Dia de los Muertos is a holiday in Mexico to honour and pray for loved ones who've departed. During this period in Oaxaca – centre-stage for Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico – cemetery vigils and street parades are not to be missed.
Take an orientation walk through Oaxaca, known for its colourful crafts, unique cuisine, and vibrant Day of the Dead celebrations. During our walk, we'll visit two bustling markets selling local foods, ornaments, and many Day of the Dead essentials. Over the course of the week, immerse yourself in the festival's theatrical parades, watching people dressed in elaborate costumes march to the tune of brass bands; and observe local families gathering at candle-lit altars and graves on visits to the city's cemeteries. Take an orientation walk around Oaxaca with your CEO. Visit two massive markets located just off the "zocalo" (main square), here you'll find many local foods, ornaments, and Day of the Dead essentials for local families.
This tour includes visits to cemeteries in both Xoxocotlan and Atzompa to view the altars and families gathering as dusk turns to dark. The many candles placed around the altars and graves add to the ambiance. In addition, you'll view Day of the Dead parades in both Oaxaca and the Etla Valley. Participants in these parades dress in elaborate costumes and are serenaded by brass bands. Mezcal, served in small plastic cups, is frequently passed out to those watching the parades.
Day of the Dead takes place between October 31 and November 2 and is a celebration and remembrance of the deceased. Families will build private altars and bring large feasts to cemeteries, to be with the souls of the departed. It is believed that the souls will come back to visit and take part in the celebrations. Some of the "ofrendas" (altars) are very elaborate and include sugar skulls and marigold flowers. In most regions, the souls of infants and children are honoured on November 1. Adults are remembered on November 2. It is generally a festive rather than somber gathering.
The Oaxaca area is well known for its many artisans who make everything from pottery, to elaborate weavings, and mezcal (tequila's cousin). The group can also take an optional visit to a couple of the the nearby communities to see the artisans at work.
Set out to explore the culinary delights of Oaxaca with a local host. Learn how chocolate is produced at a grinding mill, and flip your own tortillas at a tortilla-making workshop. Continue to a local family's kitchen to taste an array of delicious Oaxacan dishes and chat with your hosts about traditional cooking methods and Oaxacan food culture. You'll also have free time to explore the city and its surroundings.
Spend the day experiencing Oaxaca's Day of the Dead festivities. Attend atmospheric vigils, photograph the boisterous parades, and learn about the spiritual significance of the holiday's rituals. Opt to travel to Hierve del Agua. This stunning natural formation of mineral pools near the edge of a cliff.
Continue exploring the captivating culture of the Day of the Dead. In your free time, choose to head to the nearby ruins of Mitla for a guided tour. One of Mexico's best known archaeological sites, it is believed that Mitla was founded as a Zapotec burial ground. Or, wander among the plazas and pyramids of the Monte Alban ruins, a Zapotec site dating to the eighth century BC.
Enjoy the last of the Day of the Dead festivities. You may also opt to visit a nearby artisan community for a look at Oaxaca's renowned traditional crafts, including pottery and handwoven textiles. Alternatively, learn how to prepare mole, the flavoursome Mexican sauce that comprises a famously inexhaustible list of ingredients.