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7 ways to Celebrate Day of the Dead in Chicago

The beautiful Mexican traditions of Day of the Dead thrive in our city! Here are our favorite ways to celebrate Dia de los Muertos in Chicago.

#1. Xicago at the Mexican Museum of Art

Every year from October 31-November 2, the National Museum of Mexican Art in the historic Mexican-American neighborhood of Pilsen, hosts an amazing Day of the Dead Celebration called Xicago. Families from the community make offerings to their loved ones on the Museum's grounds, near 18th Street and Harrison Park. These beautiful altars are open to visitors!

A Day of the Dead altar on the grounds of the Mexican Museum of Art, Chicago, IL. (Photo cred: Mexican Museum of Art)

Inside the museum, a Dia de los Muertos art exhibition features art dealing with love, loss and the afterlife from renowned Latinx artists like Sandra Cisneros, Cecilia Beaven, Antonio Pazaran and Gennaro García.

The festivities also include performances from Mexican singers and folkloric dance groups, on an outdoor stage. It's a beautiful, free outdoor event that every Chicagoan and visitor should experience at least once. The 2020 and 2021 celebrations have included special tributes to COVID victims.

The National Museum of Mexican Art is located at 1852 W. 19th St., Chicago, IL, 60608.

#2 Panteon Pilsen at St. Procopius Church

Elsewhere in Pilsen, parishioners of St. Procopius (1641 S. Allport St., Oct. 30) build incredible altars to their deceased loved ones, then open their doors to the community for all to share in the beautiful tradition.

Day of the Dead at St. Procopius Church in Pilsen, Chicago, IL

KAREN CALLAWAY Credit: Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic
Copyright: Karen Callaway/Chicago Catholic

Anyone can build their altar in this beautiful and sacred space, with a small suggested donation to the church, which is active in the community.

Setup takes place on Oct. 29 and Oct. 30, with the altars on display on November 1 and 2!

Not sure what an altar or "ofrenda" is? Read our guide to making your Day of the Dead offering to your loved ones here!

#3. Altars and Community "Ofrenda" walk in Little Village

The Little Village neighborhood is Chicago's most iconic Mexican-American community. It's a cultural marvel, where Spanish is often the first language, where Mexican cuisine thrives and where Day of the Dead is a major part of life.

Each year Villarte, an arts community organization, leads an ofrenda walk through the neighborhood. Visitors can see beautiful offerings in the windows of local businesses, and the yards of local residents. Contact the group through their Facebook page for information about the ofrenda walk!

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#4 Muertos de la Risa Day of the Dead Parade

This wonderful community event has been paused since the outbreak of the COVID pandemic, but we are sure it will come back some day soon! Hundreds of Chicagoans put on skeleton facepaint and spooky costumes for a parade through the Pilsen neighborhood, featuring many elements of a traditional Day of the Dead parade in Mexico, like Aztec Dancers and decorated Catrinas (female skeleton characters). Get your face painted at Dvorak Park and enjoy performances, before setting off on the parade!

Muertos de la Risa Day of the Dead parade in Chicago, IL

Muertos de la Risa Day of the Dead parade in Chicago, ILMuertos de la Risa Day of the Dead parade in Chicago, IL

Organized by: SGA Youth & Family Services

#5 Día de Muertos: Una Celebración de la Vida -- Logan Square Neighborhood

Logan Square is a beautiful Mexican-American community on Chicago's Northwest Side, full of incredible restaurants and beautiful parks.

Day of the Dead festivities there are organized by the Comfort Station: a historic building at  2579 N Milwaukee Ave, Chicago, IL 60647, that functions as a community center and art space. The 2021 celebration included food vendors, live music and storytelling, as well as art exhibitions and classes.  Keep an eye on their website for future events!

Dia De Muertos — Comfort Station

#6 Day of the Dead Tasting Menu at Tzuco

Tzuco is an incredible French-Mexican gourmet restaurant in the heart of Chicago's downtown that should be on any visitor's must-see list. Led by Carlos Gaytan, the first Mexican chef ever to receive a Michelin star, the beautiful space brings out the finest in Mexican gastronomy. Its Day of the Dead events always feature stunning, exclusive dishes and renowned guest chefs who travel from Mexico to cook alongside Carlos. Reservations should be made well in advance.

Tzuco is located at: 720 N State St, Chicago, IL 60654

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#7 Build an altar at home!

Day of the Dead is meant as a time of family, togetherness, and remembrance. Our most treasured Dia de Muertos memories have happened at home, where we cook our loved ones' favorite foods, hang up our papel picado decorations, build their altar with all the special items and put out their photos to celebrate alongside us.

Leti Day of the Dead

Find beautiful fair-trade decorations for your Day of the Dead offering here, all handmade by our Mexican artisan partners!

Alebrije, Chicago, MexicoChicago papel Picado