History, art and culture
Matthew Pearson

London Day of the Dead 2019

Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, is a celebration honouring the dead that originated in Mexico. Taking place on the 2nd November each year, it is held during a time of year when the spirits of the dead can revisit their families and loved ones for a short period. Fusing pre-Hispanic and Roman Catholic influences, the Day of the Dead sees the streets near cemeteries come alive with mariachi music, wonderful food, drink, papel picado (tissue paper decorations) and skull decorations. The whole event is lively and vibrant, with a cultural refusal to treat death as a grim end or dark event guiding the whole brightly-coloured, humorous and thankful tone. Day of the Dead celebrations have spread across the planet in recent years, partly thanks to Mexican communities thriving in different countries, but also because the event has such an intoxicating vibrancy and liveliness to it. There’s plenty happening in the capital this year, so here’s our guide to celebrating the Day of the Dead in London in 2019. Including...

  • A six floor Soho building spectacularly turned into a Mexican Day of the Dead wonderland by some of Mexico’s leading contemporary artists
  • The chance to attend the marriage of two star-crossed lovers. They were kept apart in life but now, in the Land of the Dead, they can finally be together. And you get to attend their raucous wedding reception afterwards too
  • The biggest Day of the Dead-inspired party the capital has to offer
  • A City of London pub transformed into a Day of the Dead fiesta

Art of Patrón x Day of the Dead

Among the world’s leading producers of the classic Mexican spirit, Patrón Tequila already have a foot in one spirit world. But they’re stepping into another, celebrating Day of the Dead in London with style this year, taking over a six floor building on Soho’s Greek Street. They’ve invited two of the most influential contemporary Mexican artists, Lourdes Villagomez and Lola Argemi to cover the building in immersive themed artworks and create an impressive, authentic Día de Muertos world for visitors to get lost in. Famous characters from Mexican Day of the Dead parades will be brought to life here in Soho in a colourful, lively, expressive and thrilling take on the 3000 year old tradition. A make up stall run by esteemed pro make-up artists The Gypsy Shrine will be painting faces as the famous La Catrina skull. In addition, visitors will be treated to a tequila educational experience and the chance to sample some expertly made signature cocktails. A number of Mexican style canapés will be doing the rounds during the evening, wonderfully and carefully crafted to complement the classic taste of Patrón tequila. Every £15 ticket includes two free cocktails. Friday 1st November - Sunday 3rd November. 19.30 - 23.00 [caption id="attachment_5356" align="alignnone" width="1000"]


Day of the Dead: An Afterlife Love Story

Nothing says ‘the afterlife’ quite like an undisclosed location, a secret venue, the unknown. And that’s what you’ve got waiting for you at Day of the Dead: An Afterlife Love Story. This innovative, immersive themed party and theatre performance is shrouded in mystery. You can head along solely for the party at the end if you want to. There’ll be plenty of performances, live music and DJs to enjoy. But those who turn up earlier (and get the right, more expensive ticket) will be treated to a Mexican wedding ceremony, officiated in the land of the dead, followed by a three course banquet of Mexican treats. Beautiful welcome drinks are provided by Mexican Food Memories, a popular Mexican food writer. Yes, it’s the love story of two dead people, in love all their lives but unable to be together, now united in the afterlife. And it’s the first wedding where you—the guest—get to decide if you want to go for the ceremony or just the reception. We’re not sure if you want to catch the wreath. Make sure you dress up for the occasion. You don’t want to ruin the couple’s big day. November 2nd 2019, 18.00 - 21.00 (Ceremony and banquet), 21.00 - 3.00 (Reception/Party) [caption id="attachment_5357" align="alignnone" width="1000"]


Festival of the Dead

OK, so this is not an authentic Day of the Dead celebration and nor does it claim to be. It’s influenced by the Day of the Dead aesthetic, sure. But it’s about as inauthentic as it gets. And that’s certainly not something they’ll mind us saying. The Festival of the Dead will be ripping up several rulebooks at the Troxy again this year. Expect a huge amount of skulls, processing about the place. And expect characters, drawn straight from the fertile minds of this travelling troupe of creative performers and partiers, by way of Mexico. Expect daring acrobats spinning above you, zipping from one side of the hall to the other. Expect dancers backed by flames of fire and darkness and light. Art and costumes, straight from horror film sets in their eccentricity and quality. And confetti. Expect all that too. There’ll be light shows, live music, DJs, carnival acts, circus acts, debauchery, hedonism, the lot. Expect it all. But, most of all, expect the unexpected. If you’re looking for a party inspired by Day of the Dead in London...this is probably what you’re looking for. Saturday 19th October, 21.00 - 2.00 [caption id="attachment_5358" align="alignnone" width="1000"]


Day of the Dead Fiesta, The Hydrant

Slightly more relaxed vibe with this one. Popular Fuller’s pub The Hydrant will be hosting a week of Day of the Dead-inspired celebrations from 28th October to 2nd November 2019. The City pub is known for its Taco Tuesdays, and there’ll be plenty of the ubiquitous Mexican staple on offer during the week. Plus a large selection of tequilas, mezcal, and beers influenced by the flavours and culture of Mexico. This is a Central London pub that takes its cultural transformations pretty seriously. They've got a commitment to fresh, quality, authentic food and drink, and the confidence to go all-in with decorations. So you can be sure you’re in for a treat. Their Oktoberfest celebrations are worth looking out for too. October 28th - November 2nd 2019, All Day [caption id="attachment_5359" align="alignnone" width="1000"]

thehydrant.co.uk[/caption] Well, that was exhausting. And, to be honest, you look like death. You need some rejuvenation. You need a wellness centre. A London wellness centre. Find them here.

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