Día de los Muertos in Philly: Here’s how to celebrate

Día de los Muertos
Penn Museum.
Raffi Berberian Photography

Día de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead, is traditionally celebrated on Nov. 1 and 2, though other days, such as Oct. 31 or Nov. 6, may be included depending on the locality. In the City of Brotherly Love however, festivities range in offerings and timeframes and Metro has the scoop on where you can commemorate the Latin American holiday. 

Sor Ynez

There is a delicious way to celebrate the Day of the Dead at Sor Ynez in Philadelphia. In celebration of the holiday and also Halloween, the New Kensington venue will be hosting a special activation on Oct. 29 from 7 to 9 p.m. with live music. 

There will also be two specials added to the menu, and they will be made available until Wednesday, Nov. 2. The Flambeed Camote boasts grilled sweet potato with marshmallows and piloncillo syrup then flambeed with Mezcal, and the Enmolades is made up of queso fresco and chicken rolled in tortillas and smothered with mole sauce. And lastly (but certainly not least,) there will be a pet ofrenda where people can bring in pictures or sentimental objects to place on the alter and pay homage to deceased pets.

Día de los Muertos
Sor Ynez.Sor Ynez

1800 N American St., sorynez.com

Penn Museum

The Penn Museum’s 11th annual celebration of Día de los Muertos, Culture Fest!, will officially take place this weekend on Oct. 29 in partnership with the Mexican Cultural Center, the Mexican Consulate in Philadelphia, and Norristown’s Ballet Folklorico Yaretz. 

From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., those who head to the West Philadelphia cultural institution will be able to indulge in the unique traditions of the holiday—such as the iconic smiling calacas y calaveras (skeletons and skulls) that appear on candy, masks, and dolls, as well as in movies like Disney’s ‘Coco’, a release states. This all-day festival will feature an artisan market and make-and-take activities, along with live performances.

Culture Fest! performance highlights include a musical tribute honoring Jenny Rivera, Joan Sebastian, and Selena Quintanilla, a dance presentation by Ballet Folklorico Yaretzi, free samples of “Pan de Muerto” (Day of the Dead bread) and Mexican hot chocolate (served at 12:45 p.m. in the Rotunda) and more. 

The event’s main event however is the ofrenda — described as a colorful, elaborate communal altar that honors those who have passed. As the release states, created by artists Julieta Zavala and Mauro Carrera, this art installation is to be displayed in the Egypt Galleries and will be dedicated to Jenny Rivera, Joan Sebastian, Selena Quintanilla, Juan Gabriel, Chavela Vargas, and Vicente Fernández—all singers-songwriters from Mexico or of Mexican descent who have passed.

A full list of activities and what to expect at the Penn Museum’s celebration this weekend can be found online. 

Día de los Muertos
Penn MuseumRaffi Berberian Photography

3260 South St., penn.museum

Cantina la Martina 

Cantina la Martina’s Día de Los Muertos Celebración de La Vida will officially take place next week on Nov. 2. From 4 to 10 p.m., this colorful activation will feature live music from local talent the Mariachi Ángeles, plus performances from other traditional Mexican folk bands, and Ñuxacum (or Baile Folclórico, aka traditional dancers.) The event will also have an appearances by Catrina la Martina (the most recognizable symbol of Día de Los Muertos), plus a best-dressed Catrina contest. 

The most notable event of the evening however is the Celebración de La Vida, or, a ceremony to celebrate the lives of loved ones lost. As a release states, Cantina la Martina is inviting the community to bring pictures and memorabilia of their loved ones who have passed to put on their ofrenda (altar.)

On top of the special activations, different food and drink specials will also be served. Highlights include the  Chorizo Almendrado de Víbora, Corundas de Caniza, Caracoles al Mojo de Ajo, Pozole de Conejo, Machitos de Cabrito, Olla Podrida, Pollo de Leche con Mole de Huitlacoche, Coyotas de Guayaba, and Flauta de Tejocote con Salsa de Mandarina. 

Día de los Muertos
Chorizo almendrado de Víbora (Python Tacos) at Cantina la MartinaCantina la Martina

 2800 D St., cantinalamartinapa.com