Grand Park’s Ninth Annual Día de los Muertos Commemoration

Featuring free family-friendly community-focused altars and traditional Noce de Ofrenda ceremony

PHOTO: Jose Sanchez | South Pasadena News | Noche De Ofrendas at Grand Park's Dia de Los Muertos celebration

Grand Park pays tribute to the cultural tradition of Día de los Muertos—Day of the Dead—with a 12-day public art installation taking place from October 22 through November 2, 2021. The ninth annual Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos honors people, places and ideas that merit reverence and commemoration through free, family-friendly programming. Presented in partnership with Self Help Graphics & Art, Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos is a community-oriented space inviting park-goers to contribute to the community altar, created by 2018 NEA National Heritage Fellow Ofelia Esparza, and to stroll through the park to view 20 altars made by professional artists and local community organizations, including East Los Angeles Women’s CenterCommunity Power Collective and Eastside LEADS, among others.

The large, artistic altars will be spaced safely to enhance public engagement and maximize social distancing among guests. A major highlight will be the return of the annual Noche de Ofrenda (“Night of the Offerings”) in-person ceremony on Saturday, October 23, 2021, at 7:00 p.m., featuring a performance by Danza Divina de Los Angeles with special guest and legacy danzante General Lazaro Arvizu, as well as free LACMA led calavera (“skull”) art workshops inspired by Aztec art, open to all ages. Noche de Ofrenda is a contemplative ceremony and night of reflection that connects communities to traditions and highlights indigenous practices during a contemporary celebration. Park-goers must wear face coverings when attending the Noche de Ofrenda event.

PHOTO: Jose Sanchez | South Pasadena News | Attendees view the Community Altar at Grant Park’s Dia de Los Muertos celebration 2019

“The past 18 months have been both a singular and collective loss for everyone. As we emerge from the sorrows of the pandemic, yet remain cautiously mindful of its presence, Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos once again invites Angelenos to join together to preserve and participate in this special cultural commemoration,” said Josephine Ramirez, executive vice president, TMC Arts. “Whether it’s to experience a familiar remembrance or an adopted tradition, Grand Park’s tribute to Día de los Muertos offers a central gathering place to honor passed lives and the living as we find ways to learn from and appreciate each other’s lived experiences through art.”

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Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos is very much a community-focused undertaking. By partnering with local organizations and artists, we bring together the diverse voices, perspectives, experiences and neighborhoods from among the many who make up one Los Angeles. This creates a vibrant tapestry of ofrendas that showcase what has been meaningful and in many cases hard for Los Angeles this year,” remarked Julia Diamond, director, Grand Park. “Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos encourages the public to experience these altars and public art installations from another’s point of view with the intention of creating compassion and empathy.”

Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos Activities:

Grand Park’s Día de los Muertos Altars and Art Installations

October 22–November 2, 2021
5:30 a.m.–10:00 p.m. (normal park hours of operation)
Location: Grand Park (between Grand Avenue and Hill Street)

Guests can experience, hear and learn about the traditions of Día de los Muertos and stroll through large-scale altar and art installations located throughout Grand Park, curated by Self Help Graphics, including the annual community altar created by maestra Ofelia Esparza and her family. An artist and educator, Esparza continues to be instrumental in preserving and conserving the Día de los Muertos tradition in Los Angeles, and the community altar in Grand Park creates an opportunity for Angelenos to contribute their own personal ofrendas and mementos to honor a passed loved one.

All personally and culturally relevant to Los Angeles, the 20 altar installations create a connection of vital community issues, critical leaders and loved ones that are important to Angelenos. This year’s altars will include an homage to the late Chicana activist, author and community organizer, Betita Martínez, as well as altars honoring the LGBTQ community and the loss of community resources during the pandemic.

To deepen appreciation and provide context of the public art installations, Grand Park will offer attendees the option of listening to pre-recorded audio guides with insights from the artists to complement altar viewing. Park-goers can access the storytelling through Grand Park’s digital channels.

Noche de Ofrenda

October 23, 2021
7:00 p.m.–9:00 p.m.
Location: Grand Park Performance Lawn (Near Hill Street)

Suspended last year due to the pandemic, the traditional Noche de Ofrenda ceremony honoring the dead returns to Grand Park as a live event and performance. A co-presentation by Grand Park and Self Help Graphics, the joint event of reflection and remembrance will feature a communal circle and blessing led by the indigenous community and also include poetry and dance.

In a continued partnership with Grand Park, LACMA will host two family-friendly arts-based workshops dedicated to making personalized calavera—one of the most recognizable cultural and artistic elements of the Day of the Dead festivities. Each 20-minute workshop held throughout Noche de Ofrenda will engage kids to create their own calavera using air dry clay, paper plates and other craft items as LACMA teaching artists show park-goers how to sculpt, shape and transform ordinary materials into colorful Día de los Muertos artworks. LACMA will also host a “Tree of Life” in Grand Park encouraging park-goers to write the name of a passed loved one on a colorful ribbon; the name and ribbon will remain placed on the tree in remembrance for the duration of Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos.

For more information about Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos, visit Follow Grand Park on Facebook (GrandParkLosAngeles), as well as Twitter, Instagram and TikTok (@GrandPark_LA). *Artists and events are subject to change.

Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos is generously supported by Macy’s.

Situated on the ancestral and sacred land of the Tongva and many other indigenous groups who call these grounds home, The Music Center acknowledges and honors with gratitude the land itself and the First People who have been its steward throughout the generations.