Downey Dia de los Muertos returns Oct. 29
One of the Southland’s signature events, the annual Downey Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival, is set for Saturday, Oct. 29, from 11 am to 8 pm, in and around the Downey Civic Center on Firestone Blvd., across from Downey High School.
Admission and parking are free. Expected attendance is 25,000+.
The festival brings the community together to share the Day of the Dead’s history, rituals and customs such as altars and Aztec dancers, plus multiple art exhibits, sugar skull (calaveras) decorating, live music and dance, 10-plus food trucks and 35-plus vendors for shopping, closing with a ticketed performance in the Downey Theatre by Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, featuring Downey native Lupita Infante.
On display in the main plaza, amidst the elegant palms and dramatic fountain, is the popular Community Altar, an oversized, highly decorated traditional altar that welcomes area resident’s participation. To place a personal photo and memento for a loved one, go to www.DowneyTheatre.com or call the Theatre Box Office at (562) 861-8211 and ask for a participation entry card.
Other plaza attractions include the Garden of Catrinas, face-painting and papel picado demonstrations by artist in residence Aurora Chavez. Chavez studied with the late Olga Ponce Ferginson, who revived and set the standard for Mexican paper art in the U.S.
The plaza’s “red carpet” literally leads a path to the Downey Arts Coalition’s curated fine art exhibits in the theater lobby and mezzanine.
New festival attractions this year include a water-color workshop hosted by Downey’s Stay Gallery, and hands-on printing demonstrations led by Cosme Cordova, Southland artist and consultant to Riverside’s “The Cheech” museum.
Expanded children and young-adult entertainments include “Kid Zorro: The Bilingual Puppet Musical” performed by Kevin Noonchester’s Noteworthy Puppets. The show comingles Spanish California and Día de los Muertos.
Mija Books, an independent, family-owned bookstore in Lakewood that showcases multicultural and diversity-oriented children’s books and parenting guides, is hosting two book readings: Children’s Story Hour, a 45-minute interactive reading of the rhyming book “El Cucuy & Other Spooky Legends From Latin American Folklore.” Appropriate for ages 3–8.
For the young adult reading, also presented by Mija Books, author Kayden Phoenix will read from her graphic novel “A La Brava: The Latina Superhero” followed by a group discussion and Q&A.
New altars this year are the Pet Altar and Blue Heaven, Viva Los Dodgers dedicated to L.A. Dodgers greats from 1958 onward. It is designed by folk and altar artist Alec Esparza, son of famed altarista Ofelia Esparza.
Returning festival attractions
There will be continuous, professional ballet folklorico on the Optum Health Community Stage and professional bands in the zocalo, including crowd favorite Conganas.
Also returning is La Hora D’Alicia and Ellas L.A. selfie favorite, Car Altar Alley, presented by the Veteranos Car Club. Vintage autos from 1938–1959 will be converted to altars for the day. The group participates in up to 50 fundraisers and car shows a year, raising money for schools and other community activities.
Fine art exhibits in the theater lobby and mezzanine, curated by the Downey Arts Coalition, include paintings, collages, sculptures, and mixed-media, plus the crowd pleasing Student Art Exhibit, food trucks, tamale cart, calaveras/sugar skull decorating, a wine and beer garden, and 30-plus vendors for shopping.
Closing the festival at 8 pm is Chicago-based Mariachi Herencia de Mexico, featuring Downey native Lupita Infante, in the 738-seat theater. This concert is ticketed and will likely sell-out.
Mariachi Herencia de Mexico has been nominated for a Latin Grammy, and has released four albums that topped the Billboard music charts. Their sound is sophisticated, modernistic and futuristic with a fresh, crisp intensity that appeals to a new generation of listeners.
Mariachi Herencia de Mexico has performed in numerous prestigious venues, from the Kennedy Center to Guadalajara's Teatro Degollado.
Tickets are on sale now. For tickets or for information, call the Downey Theatre Box Office (562) 861-8211 or visit www.DowneyTheatre.com.
The Downey Dia de Los Muertos Art Festival is produced by the City of Downey and the Downey Theatre.