For Lakesiders who don’t get their fill of Day of the Dead happenings going on Friday, November 2, in north shore communities, the nearby towns of Ixtlahuacán de los Membrillos and Zapotlanejo are holding extended festivities showcasing the holiday’s entrancing customs and traditions.
Ixtlahuacán’s Festival de Muertos program for Saturday, November 3, features an outstanding display of memorial altars set up along the main entrance to town for competition judging at 1 p.m. Later activities include the Catrina impersonation contest, 4 p.m.; a presentation of customs from the Isthmus of Tehuantepec, 7 p.m.; and a folk dance performance, 9:30 p.m.
Highlights for Sunday, November 4 are the Dia de Muerto carpet contest, 2:30 p.m.; the Catrina Brides contest parade with live mariachi music, 5 p.m.; and a representation of Oaxaca’s Guelaguetza fiesta, 7 p.m. Craft and Gastronomy pavilions installed at the central plaza open daily, 10 a.m.
Zapotlanejo is hosting its 10th annual Festival de la Catrina, set to run daily through Sunday, November 11. The town holds Guinness Records for erecting the world’s tallest Catrina figure and the largest Altar de Muertos.
The classic image of Lady Death, raised on the esplanade between the city hall building and main church, has appeared with new outfits and increasing height from year to year. Last year she towered at almost 40 meters. The monumental memorial altar is shaped to mimic a pre-Hispanic pyramid and equipped for spectacular after-dark lighting.
This year’s fest will also showcase a huge street carpet crafted with colorful sawdust and sand by distinguished artists from Uriangato, Guanajuato, brought in for the occasion.
The festival venue spreads out over 4,000 square meters around the city center, with life-size Catrinas and other Dia de Muertos decorations displayed along various pedestrian walkways. This year’s event is dedicated to the memory of Gabilondo Soler, the famed Mexican composer of popular children’s songs, who is better known as Cri-Cri.
Zapotlanejo is located about 40 kilometers directly north of Lake Chapala, easily accessed by a 30-minute drive via the Macrolibramiento toll road that branches off the Chapala-Guadalajara highway a short distance beyond Ixtlahuacán.