Marigolds. Hot chocolate. Pan de muerto. There’s something magical to me about this time of year when Día de los Muertos celebrations begin to infuse the city with a warm nostalgia.
Elaborate altars honoring departed loved ones appear everywhere from living rooms to museums, and in Austin we find unique ways to make the holiday our own.
For a special Día de los Muertos celebration that brings together both tradition and local music, art and dance, head to the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. The two-day free celebration Nov. 2-3 offers something for both longtime observers of the holiday as well as those who want to experience it for the first time.
For me, the heart of the cultural center’s celebration has always been its moving altar exhibition. This year, both days will feature illuminated altars throughout the center’s grounds.
From 5-9 p.m. Nov. 2, catch diverse tunes ranging from Central American singer-songwriter Mauricio Callejas to mariachi music from family band Mariachi Corbetas. Dance performances by Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklórico and Danza Azteca Guadalupana will also be part of the festivities.
Get there early to munch on complimentary Day of the Dead bread and hot chocolate. Then soak up the holiday spirit by decorating sugar skulls and browsing the artisan vendor booths and food trucks. Don’t forget to stay for a blessing from traditional healer Marika Alvarado. The Día de los Muertos activities from 1-4 p.m. Nov. 3 focus on family fun from face painting to piñata breaking.
For a more music-filled holiday, check out the Día de los Muertos music festival from 5-10 p.m. Nov. 10 at Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater. This annual fest by the Easterseals Central Texas, which costs $15, benefits the nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities.
Cumbia masters A.B. Quintanilla and the Kumbia Allstarz will headline the fest. Fans might know Quintanilla as Tejano superstar Selena’s older brother. Quintanilla, a record producer, performer and songwriter, wrote hits such as “Como la Flor.” Tickets can be purchased online at austindiadelosmuertos.com.
RELATED: Tejano music archives now have home at Texas State
Caifanes concert in Austin
In the late 1980s, as the rock en español scene kept building momentum in Latin America, Mexican rock group Caifanes emerged on the scene and quickly became pioneers that helped lift a new musical movement.
Their iconic discography has influenced a generation of musicians, and today they’re considered among Mexico’s most important rock groups. Fans of the rock gods can catch them Nov. 30 at the Coliseum in Southeast Austin (9111 FM 812). It’s sure to be a sing-along kind of show filled with their most memorable songs over the years.
Tickets, which range from $75-$125, can be purchased online at thecoliseumaustin.com. Doors open at 9 p.m. After more than 20 years, Caifanes plans to release a new album in the near future, but no date has been set.
Selena in the Park
We always wish the ending were different, but watching the 1997 movie “Selena” starring Jennifer Lopez still makes us feel a little bit closer to the Tejano music queen who decades after her death remains sorely missed.
Selena fans, let’s laugh and cry together from 6-8 p.m Nov. 6 at Republic Square Park during a screening of the movie. It’s a rare fall treat since most local “Selena” screenings tend to surface in the spring to honor her birthday or death anniversary. The November “Selena” screening is part of the Movies in the Park free film series by the Austin Parks Foundation and Alamo Drafthouse. Bring your blanket or chairs and enjoy food from the various food trucks that’ll be present.
After all, as the movie says,“Anything for Selenas!”