photo of colorful decorations over the streets of Toluca Mexco

Last Updated on November 1, 2020

The Dia de los Muertos festival is celebrated throughout Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage in the United States. Learn about Mexico’s Dia de los Muertos traditions with these resources for a virtual Day of the Dead field trip for kids and adults!

Day of the Dead is one of Mexico’s most popular and ancient holidays, celebrated each year at the end of October and beginning of November. During this time, it’s believed that the spirits of deceased family and loved ones are able to return temporarily to visit the world of the living.

Since 2003, Dia de los Muertos been officially recognized by UNESCO as a living expression of culture as an “Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity.” Traditions vary by region and village, and preparations can begin days or weeks ahead of time. At every celebration, an altar filled with offerings is one of the most important components of the Day of the Dead festivities: it welcomes the dead back from their journey.

A few years ago I was lucky to get to experience the Dia de Muertos celebrations in Oaxaca. This year, unfortunately, many celebrations in Mexico and the U.S. have been cancelled. So I’ve compiled online resources for a virtual Dia de los Muertos field trip: videos and resources about traditions and history, how it’s celebrated in different regions of Mexico and the United States, and links for virtual Day of the Dead celebrations!

photo of a colorful sand tapestry in Guanajuato
Sand tapestries at the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Guanajuato, Mexico

Quick Guide to 2020 Virtual Day of the Dead Celebrations:

Check out these virtual Day of the Dead celebrations with livestreams or online events scheduled in 2020:

Mexico City Virtual Dia de los Muertos celebrations:


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This post is part of my virtual travel collection: guides I created to help curious minds and world travelers keep learning and exploring from home in 2020! Check out all my virtual field trips and travel for kids and adults.

Virtual Travel & Virtual Field Trips

Last Updated on October 29, 2020 With so many of us staying at home this year and not able to …

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History of Dia de los Muertos

Learn about the how 3,000-year-old indigenous practices of the Aztecs and Toltecs became the Dia de los Muertos celebrations of today.


The Festival of Death in Mexico

This overview of the traditions and history of Day of the Dead is part of Google Arts & Culture. In this project, Google has partnered with more than 2,000 museums to bring their collections online.

photo of colorful decorations over the streets of Toluca Mexco
Dia de los Muertos decorations in Toluca

National Geographic: What is Day of the Dead?

This short video from National Geographic gives a simple overview of the origins and traditions of Day of the Dead.

More from Nat Geo:


Day of the Dead: A Celebration of Life from Google Arts & Culture

Google has partnered with more than 2,000 museums to bring their collections online to people around the world through their Arts & Culture initiative. Check out this video from Google Mexico that explores the meaning of Dia de los Muertos through individual stories. (In Spanish with English captions.)


PBS Artbound: Dia de Los Muertos

This 1-hour episode of the PBS series Artbound explores the origins of Dia de los Muertos celebrations in the U.S. Inspired by Oaxacan traditions, it was brought to Los Angeles in the 1970’s as a way to enrich the Chicano community by Self Help Graphics and Art, a local community arts center. (In English and Spanish with English captions.)

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2020 Virtual Dia de los Muertos from Self Help Graphics and Art in Los Angeles

This year, Self Help Graphics and Art will be presenting its annual Day of the Dead celebrations online. Find out more here including virtual Dia de los Muertos community art workshops, online art exhibition, and virtual celebrations throughout the month.


José Guadalupe Posada / Public domain

Origins of La Catrina

We all recognize La Calavera Catrina, even if we don’t know her name! But what are her origins, and how did she become a symbol of Dia de los Muertos?

  • La Catrina: Lady of the Dead. Learn about La Catrina’s origins with this online presentation from the Smithsonian Latino Center and Google Arts & Culture.
  • Funny Bones. Learn more about José Guadalupe Posada, the creator of La Catrina, and literary calaveras – short satirical poems meant to highlight the shortcomings of a living person.
Calavera garbancera

The True Origins of La Catrina

This video is a good introduction to Day of the Dead for younger kids and an overview of the origins of La Calavera Catrina.


Death in the History of Mexico

This experience from the Museo Nacional de la Muerte and Google Arts & Culture explores death through the art, history and culture of Mexico through the museum’s collection.


Aztec Origins of Day of the Dead

This video from Step Back History is a quick explainer of how and why the rituals of the Aztecs got combined with Spanish holidays of All Souls Day and All Saints Day.

Online Day of the Dead Experience

Airbnb Experiences is now offering online virtual tours. Learn about the traditions of Dia de los Muertos from home with this (paid) virtual field trip via Zoom!

Cemetery preparations for Dia de Muertos on the island of Janitzio on Lake Patzcuaro

Altars History & Info: Virtual Dia de los Muertos

Altars with offerings (ofrendas) are at the center of every Dia de los Muertos celebration! Learn more about the origin of this tradition with these multimedia features from Google Arts & Culture and their museum partners.

photo of a Day of the Dead altar with offerings

Information

Most of the videos and resources in this guide are in English, but some videos are in Spanish. To turn on captions for those videos, hover your mouse over the player when it starts. Click the “CC” button to enable auto-generated Spanish captions, and click the “settings” wheel and “subtitles.” You can then scroll to switch the auto-translation to another language.


The ABC’s of the Dia de los Muertos Ofrenda

Learn the basics that each altar should have with this video for kids.


How to Make a Dia de los Muertos Altar

Get an overview of Dia de los Muertos and learn how to make a home altar from vlogger Karla Xochi.


Ofelia Esparza on building altars for Día de los Muertos

Master altar-maker Ofelia Esparza describes making altars and information on the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Los Angeles.


Pan de Muerto: De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina

Learn to make pan de muerto or “bread of the dead” with Doña Ángela of De Mi Rancho a Tu Cocina (From My Ranch to Your Kitchen). (In Spanish with English captions)


More about altars and “how-to” videos for creating an altar at home:

photo of pan de muertos - bread for day of the dead

Virtual Dia de los Muertos: Community Celebrations

Ready for a virtual Day of the Dead celebration? See how different communities observe Dia de los Muertos with these amazing videos from travelers, event organizers, and community members!


Dia de los Muertos in Mexico City

Learn about the Day of the Dead in Mexico City – from history to celebrations to street art – with this Google Arts & Culture feature from Consejo Ciudadano de la Ciudad de México.

It’s hard to believe that the Day of the Dead Parade in Mexico City only began in 2016. It started with an art exhibition (more info below) that inspired the opening scene of the James Bond movie Spectre, which in turn became an annual real-life Dia de los Muertos parade tradition.

See more Day of the Dead traditions in Mexico City from Google Arts & Culture and Consejo Ciudadano de la Ciudad de México.


Dia de los Muertos in Oaxaca

Celebrate the Day of the Dead in Oaxaca with Rubi and Jose from Sin Postal as they experience the sights, eats, and celebrations of the city and surrounding villages. (In Spanish with captions)

Dia de los Muertos in San Agustín Etla, Oaxaca

Near Oaxaca, the town of San Agustín Etla might be the site of the wildest Dia de los Muertos celebrations! Known as a muerteada, groups from different neighborhoods and towns parade through the streets in amazing costumes with full marching bands. They eventually converge for a battle of the bands – check out a video here. While it’s not a Day of the Dead tradition for kids and might seem a little scary, I got to experience it and the carnival atmosphere and energy is infectious!

Also check out my guide for planning a visit to Oaxaca during Dia de los Muertos!

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: Traditions & Trip Itinerary

Oaxaca, Mexico is magic, especially during the Dia de los Muertos celebrations! Learn about the holiday’s traditions and get an itinerary for your own Day of the Dead trip to Oaxaca!

Read more


Day of the Dead in Michoacan

This video follows May and Jim from Spanish and Go to the Mexican state of Michoacan to experience Dia de Muertos in Morelia, Janitzio and Tzintzuntzan. The nighttime cemetery celebrations on the island of Janitzio are some of the most spectacular in Mexico. (In English with English or Spanish captions)


Dia de los Muertos in Guanajuato

In Guanajuato, the Day of the Dead celebrations include exhibitions of dancing, posters, and tapetes de muerte – colorful decorative “carpets” made from flower petals, colored sawdust and salt, rice, seeds and more.

One of the most iconic symbols of the festivities in Guanajuato is the “Ofrenda Monumental” on the steps of the University of Guanajuato. I love this gorgeous video by the university featuring its Day of the Dead traditions.

This video by Gastro Tour explores Guanajuato’s Day of the Dead traditions in more depth including performances, artistic exhibitions, and food. (In Spanish with captions)


Day of the Dead in San Miguel de Allende

Follow vlogger Paulettee as she learns about Dia de los Muertos and explores the festivities and meaningful traditions in San Miguel de Allende. (In Spanish with captions)


Dia de los Muertos in Mixquic

This video by Viajefest begins with the Dia de los Muertos celebrations in Mixquic and then takes you to see the parade in Mexico City and a family Halloween celebration. The aerial shots of the cemeteries and parade are especially wonderful! (In Spanish with captions)

See more of the Mixquic cemetery with this Google streetview virtual tour.


Day of the Dead Celebrations at Hollywood Forever in Los Angeles

Listen as event organizers, performers, and members of the Los Angeles community talk about the Day of the Dead at the Hollywood Forever cemetery and what the celebrations mean to them.


Virtual Day of the Dead Art & Artifacts

Virtually explore more Day of the Dead culture and traditions through museum artifacts and popular art.

Google Arts & Culture Collections

  • Monumental Skeletons. Find out about the inspiration for the parade in the opening scene of the Specter James Bond film, the giant skeletons of Colectivo Última Hora in the Museo de Arte Popular (Museum of Folk Art).
  • Nuestrias Historias: Day of the Dead. This virtual Day of the Dead experience from Google Arts & Culture explores Mexican identity through altars in the museum collection of the National Museum of Mexican Art in Chicago.
photo of sugar skull candy for Day of the Dead

MUMEDI (Museo Mexicano del Diseño) in Mexico City

The Mexican Museum of Design MUMEDI in Mexico City hosts a worldwide graphic design competition every year with the theme “La Sonrisa de la Muerte” (To Death With A Smile).

  • Humor and Death: Exploring humor and death in Mexico with illustrations from MUMEDI’s annual design competition.

MUMEDI is also a hotel (I stayed there when I visited Mexico City) and you can order prints online here of the posters from their competition.


Day of the Dead by Charles and Ray Eames

This 1957 short film by Charles and Ray Eames was an early inspiration for the organizers of the first Day of the Dead celebrations in Los Angeles. Charles and Ray Eames were a husband and wife team of American industrial designers who are most famous for their modern chairs and furniture. They were also graphic and textile designers, architects, and filmmakers.


Tilt Brush by Google Day of the Dead Art

Tilt Brush from Google is technology that lets you paint in 3D space with virtual reality. Check out this cool video from the design studio Metzican where they get to try it out!


Google Arts & Culture Day of the Dead Collection

Explore more virtual Day of the Dead history, traditions and art with Google’s online museum feature.

photo of a field of marigolds and cockscombs flowers

For more of my Day of the Dead travel stories, check out my guide to visiting Oaxaca, Mexico for Dia de Muertos! I also have a Day of the Dead nativity scene in my collection of souvenir nativities.

Day of the Dead in Oaxaca: Traditions & Trip Itinerary

Oaxaca, Mexico is magic, especially during the Dia de los Muertos celebrations! Learn about the holiday’s traditions and get an itinerary for your own Day of the Dead trip to Oaxaca!

Read more

Travel Souvenirs: Nativities From Around the World

I fell in love with the Washington National Cathedral’s exhibit of world nativities – and started collecting them in my travels! See photos of my collection and get links to my shoppable Etsy lists of world nativities.

Read more


Pin this Virtual Day of the Dead guide for later or share with a friend!

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Adrienne, The Haphazard Traveler

I used to be a hot travel mess, but I got better! I kept the name and now blog my best tips for culture and adventure travel from around the globe. Follow along for travel advice, destination info, and photography from faraway lands - and at home in Washington, D.C.

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