Festival de las Animas: Everything you need to know

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Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Hanal Pixán is one of Yucatán’s most beloved and ancient festivities, so one day of celebration is simply not enough.

With Dia de Los Muertos — or Hanal Pixán, as it is known in Yucatán — just a couple of weeks away. Mérida’s City Hall has announced a slate of events featuring processions, cultural events, movie screenings, food fairs, pet adoption drives, and lots more.

Check out the full event calendar below and start to plan ahead, as some of these events are likely to exceed capacity.

We have also created a PDF in English listing all the activities for you to download here.

Related: The difference between Day of the Dead and Hanal Pixan

Monday, Oct. 24

The day of the Dead and Hanal Pixán trace their roots back to the traditions and beliefs and traditions of peoples like the Maya and Aztecs. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

The Festival de las Animas, or Festival of Souls, will kick off with a photography exhibit in Mérida’s Plaza Grande. The exhibition will feature images celebrating Yucatán’s Hanal Pixán days gone by. 
8 p.m. – 10 p.m., Plaza Grande (main square)

Tuesday, Oct. 25

Presentation of exhibit Waya´k Pixáno’ob by local artist, Alejandro Poot Molina, in honor of the 200th anniversary of Mérida’s Cementerio General, Mérida’s largest cemetery.
10 a.m. – 10 p.m., José Martí Library, Parque de las Américas

Reading of traditional folk legends by Jorge Moreno, featuring stories of mythical figures including Aluxes and the Xtabay. 
8 p.m. – 9:30 p.m., Cortés Sarmiento Park

Wednesday, Oct. 26

Leaving offerings at cemeteries for loved ones who have passed over is one of Mexico’s most cherished rituals. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Guided tour of Mérida’s largest and arguably most impressive cemetery, the Cementerio General. The tour will include visits to selected mausoleums. 
9 p.m. – 11 p.m., Cementerio General.

Traditional bicycle ride of souls with the Cicloturixes cycling club. Attendees are encouraged to bring their own bikes and wear traditional costumes and/or face paint. 
9 p.m. – 11 p.m., – Beginning at Santa Ana Park and ending at Mérida’s Cementerio General

Thursday, Oct. 27 through Wednesday, Nov. 2

Many homes in Yucatán build their very own altars to honor their dearly departed in hopes that they will return, even if just for a quick bite to eat. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Presentation of Mérida’s massive Hanal Pixán altar, measuring over 50 feet.
10 a.m. – 11 a.m. Plaza Grande (main square)

Guided tour of the massive altar with explanations of its symbology offered in Spanish, Mayan, and English. 
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Friday, Oct. 28

If you plan to attend the Paseo de las Ánimas you may want to think about dressing accordingly. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Annual Paseo de las Ánimas procession through several of Mérida’s neighborhoods including San Sebastián and La Ermita. This is one of the largest and most attended events of the Hanal Pixán cultural calendar so make sure to arrive early if you want to get a good spot to view the procession. 
6 p.m. – 10 p.m. 

Saturday, Oct. 29

Like across the world, people in Yucatán adore their dogs. Pictured is “Frida” a Xoloitzcuintle who recently passed away but is well remembered by passersby on Calle 60. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Pixán Pee’k (dog in Yucatec-Maya) costume contest for dogs and exhibition of altars dedicated to dearly departed canines. The event will also promote the adoption of dogs from local shelters.
6 p.m. – 10 p.m., San Sebastian Park

Reenactment of the Pok Ta Pok Mayan ritual ceremony also known as the Mesoamerican ballgame where two teams of “players” faced off, often with fatal consequences.
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., in front of Mérida’s Cathedral 

Leyendas del Mayab contemporary circus.
8 p.m. – 9 p.m – Santa Ana Park

Traditional day of the dead Catarinas parade and performances featuring elaborate costumes and live music. 8:30 p.m. – 11 p.m., starting on Calle 63 with 60 towards the Remate

Sunday, Oct. 30

Mucbipollo is central to Hanal Pixán celebrations. It resembles a large tamale wrapped in banana leaves. It is traditionally cooked underground over a slow fire, as the ancient Maya did.

Hanal Pixán themed biciruta along paseo de Montejo.
8 a.m. – 12:30 p.m. – Paseo de Montejo, Plaza Grande, La Ermita

Mucbipollo fair featuring the sale of Yucatán’s most iconic Hanal Pixán meal which resembles a giant tamale. The festival will also feature live music and presenters in costume.
8 a.m. – 8 p.m., San Sebastian Park

Mérida en Domingo themed “Pixánitos en Domingo” street market and festival featuring live music, performances, as well as handcraft and food stalls. 
Noon – 3 p.m., Plaza Grande

Bicycle tour of the “ghost town” of Misnebalam, near the highway to Progreso. Tour is five miles long and includes the use of a bicycle and helmet. For reservations call: 9993-58-62-50.
5:20 and 7:50 p.m., Hacienda Xcunyá

Musical performance themed around the Disney animated feature Coco.
7:30 p.m. – 8:30 p.m., Parque de Las Américas

Monday, Oct. 31

Central to the idea of Hanal Pixán is the idea that underneath it all we are all the same and that what unites us is love, even in the grave. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Bicycle tour of the “ghost town” of Misnebalam, near the highway to Progreso. Tour is five miles long and includes the use of a bicycle and helmet. For reservations call 999-358-6250.
5:20 and 7:50 p.m., Hacienda Xcunyá

Noche de Ánimas (Night of Souls,) at La Isla Shopping Mall featuring several attractions.
6 p.m. – 9 p.m., Las Isla shopping mall

Outdoor screening of the Disney film “Coco.”
8 p.m., Vicente Solis Park

Mérida’s traditional Vaqueria, themed around the Day of the Dead. 
9 p.m. – 10 p.m., Mérida City Hall

Tuesday, Nov. 1

In the Yucatec-Maya language, Hanal Pixán means food of the dead, hinting perhaps to the centrality of food to the tradition. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Opportunity to place offerings at Méridas monumental Hánal Pixán Altar in memory of loved ones.
9 a.m. – 9 p.m.

Movie screening at the park of the Disney film “Coco.”
8 p.m., Cholul municipal hall 

Bicycle tour of the “ghost town” of Misnebalam, near the highway to Progreso. Tour is 5 miles long and includes the use of a bicycle and helmet. For reservations call 999-358-6250.
5:20 and 7:50 p.m., Hacienda Xcunyá

Wednesday, Nov. 2

Families typically adorn altars with photos of their deceased loved ones and fill them with their favorite foods, and sometimes even their favorite vices such as cigarettes and liquor. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

A second chance to place offerings at Mérida’s monumental Hánal Pixán altar in memory of loved ones. 9 a.m. – 9 p.m., Plaza Grande

Screening at the park of the Disney film “Coco.”
8 p.m. – Cancha de Usos Múltiples at Caucel 

Bicycle tour of the “ghost town” of Misnebalam, near the highway to Progreso. Tour is five miles long and includes the use of a bicycle and helmet. For reservations call: 999-358-6250.
5:20 and 7:50 p.m., Hacienda Xcunyá

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