Celebrating Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro, Mexico

Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro Mexico is a joyous and sacred time. It’s a time to prepare for the return of the souls of the dead by preparing altars, visiting gravestones and cooking special food. And, as I discovered in Patzcuaro, Mexico, it’s a time for children to  join the triumph over death and celebrate life.

It’s also a fine opportunity for photographers to take photos of the costumed participants as many of the children (accompanied by their parents) will pose for photos so you don’t need to be concerned about invading their privacy. Here are some of the faces of the children we met during Dia de los Muertos:

Girls in procession with marigolds

Day of the Dead Processions in Patzcuaro

Wedding catrina

Many of the Day of the Dead costumes are based on La Calavera Catrina a zinc etching originally created by Jose Guadalupe Posada between 1910 and 1913, then named and painted by Diego Rivera in his famous murals. These representations of elegant female skeletons dressed in European attire of sweeping hats and long flowing gowns were originally intended as a satirical commentary on native Mexican who were abandoning their culture in favour of European turn-of-the-century fashions and fads.

Today’s Day of the Dead costumes are elaborate recreations of those early depictions. They are accompanied by white face paint and make-up designed and applied to look like skulls.


Girls in Day of the Dead procession

Solemn catrina in procession


Colleen Friesen and ghouls in Morelia

Travel Planner 

By Bus: First-class La Linea buses run every hour from the Central Camionera Poniente de Observatorio Bus Station in Mexico City to Patzcuaro bus station with a brief stop in Morelia. The cost is 409 pesos ($35 CAD) one-way.

Patzcuaro Hotel: Meson San Antonio offers economical but charming rooms (many with fireplaces) in a historic inn located on Serrato St. just steps to the Basilica and the Day of the Dead Flower Market.

Food: Sopa Tarasca or Tarascan soup makes an ideal lunchtime meal after watching processions during Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro. This satisfying soup features pinto beans, chiles and crispy tortilla strips in a delicious combination.  Try Restaurante Lupita at Cuesta de Don Vasco # 5 for one of the best variations on this popular soup.

Official Michoacan Tourism Site

8 Amazing Day of the Dead Traditions in Mexico

Michele Peterson
Michele Peterson
Dividing her time between Toronto, Mexico and Guatemala (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is an award-winning writer, blogger, editor and publisher who specializes in travel, cuisine and luxury lifestyles.
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Showing 6 comments
  • Carol Perehudoff


  • Lesley Peterson

    Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro and Morelia does look ghoulish – and fun:P I’ve never seen anything like it. I’d love to stay in that hotel near the flower market. Great photos and tips!

  • nydia

    What sweet children but oddly scary to those of us not used to celebrating death

  • Colleen Friesen

    Love your photos Michele. What a fabulous experience. So glad we did this trip!!

  • currybadger

    These kids will give me nightmares, whats scary about them to me is that they are wearing nice looking close to go along with there bloody stitched up faces

  • Suzanne Fluhr

    We lived in Mexico when I was 9 and I still have the occasional nightmare about the Day of the Dead. It didn’t help that we “celebrated” in the town cemetery (San Miguel de Allende) and in those days, if no one paid for the upkeep of the family plot, the bodies were disinterred and just left there. Shudder.

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