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Breathtaking Day of the Dead festivals in Mexico and the US

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 (Spencer Grant/Getty Images)

One of the most memorable James Bond scenes in recent years, the opening of Spectre was set in a dramatic and mystical Día de Los Muertos celebration in Mexico City. The awe-inspiring event featured pulsating music, enormous skeleton floats, and thousands of festival attendees in flower crowns, face paint, and traditional regalia.

If this now-iconic scene has piqued your interest, there are several cities across North America that celebrate the Day of the Dead—a Mexican holiday honoring the deceased.

We’ve selected a few vibrant locales hosting these tradition-steeped celebrations this fall, where you can experience everything from the decorating of sugar skulls to the laying of marigolds on ofrendas (or altars) to marching in a procession.

  • 1. Mexico City, Mexico

    Mexico City, Mexico

    Livia Corona/Getty Images

    Though slightly scaled back from the parade in Spectre, the Mexican capital‘s Día de Los Muertos celebrations are some of the most famous in the world. In San Andrés Mixquic, cemeteries are illuminated by hundreds of candles and graves are decorated with Mexican marigolds. Market stalls selling traditional goods, public and household altars, and festive processions are also common fixtures during the holiday.

  • 2. Los Angeles

    Los Angeles

    Spencer Grant/Getty Images

    Each year, L.A.’s historic Olvera Street throws a weeklong Day of the Dead celebration. The festivities include mask-making workshops, candlelit processions, street theater, and a marketplace selling altar-making materials. Other nearby venues hosting Día de los Muertos celebrations include the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, Calvary Cemetery, and the Museum of Latin American Art.

     

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  • 3. Chicago

    Chicago

    Courtesy of the National Museum of Mexican Art

    Each year, Chicago celebrates the Day of the Dead with concerts, festivals, and workshops. At the National Museum of Mexican Art in the Pilsen neighborhood, visitors can honor the spirits at a new art exhibition dedicated to the holiday and the largest Día de Los Muertos celebrationin the U.S.

  • 4. Pátzcuaro, Mexico

    Pátzcuaro, Mexico

    fitopardo.com/Getty Images

    The Día de los Muertos traditions in the city of Pátzcuaro, in the Mexican state of Michoacán, are said to be some of the most vibrant in the world. Craft markets pop up around the city, while all-night candlelight vigils and celebrations take place in local cemeteries. While these events are largely private, visitors are permitted to bring offerings.

    Check out more amazing Day of the Dead celebrations.