Día de los Muertos yields local festivities

It’s nearing the end of October, and for many people that means one thing: Halloween.

For others, it can mean something equally exciting: Día de los Muertos.

Día de los Muertos, “All-Souls Day” in the United States, is a Mexican holiday celebrated Nov. 2 that honors those who have passed away.

It sounds grim, but it’s actually a festive day to celebrate — rather than mourn — those who are no longer with us. Art, bread- and candy-making, costumes and elaborate make-up mark the festivities as Los Angeles gets ready to party it up in a major way.

Here are a number of activities you can take part in to celebrate Día de los Muertos.

El Velorio 

If art is your thing, then you shouldn’t miss El Velorio in Downtown Los Angeles’ KGB Gallery, an event that features food, music, drinks, face-painting and, of course, lots of art. More than 100 local artists will be crafting art, with proceeds going to fund the Buen Pastor Mural Project, which uses art to help women and children affected by domestic violence.

El Velorio will take place Friday, from 7 p.m. to 3 a.m., at the KGB Gallery on 1640 North Spring St.

Carnaval de los Muertos 

For something more ghoulish, try the Carnaval de los Muertos, or “Carnival of the Dead,” where zombies and monsters join forces to take over South Gate Park. The event will include Halloween-themed mazes, a battle of the bands, gourmet food trucks, a best-dressed zombie award, various booths, Día de los Muertos altars and more.

Carnaval de los Muertos will take place Friday, from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., at South Gate Park on 4855 Tweedy Blvd.

Olvera Street

You can’t celebrate a Mexican holiday without spending some time on Los Angeles’ historic Olvera Street, the oldest street in the city and one ripe with Mexican culture. With a gallery opening at the Instituto Cultural Mexicano on Friday, a Novenario (a Catholic prayer tradition) ceremony taking place Saturday and Sunday, and community Día de los Muertos altars being displayed through Wednesday, Olvera Street will be worth a visit anytime you’re free.

Check out the festivities on Olvera Street running today through Wednesday.

Mercado La Paloma 

For something closer to home, try celebrating Día de los Muertos at Mercado La Paloma, a 10-minute walk from campus. Stop by on Sunday to see how this mega-market is transformed into a fantastic Día de los Muertos celebration with live music, art exhibitions, cultural and culinary performances and a giant altar in their outdoor gazebo. There will also be live workshops demonstrating indigenous leatherwork, traditional weaving and ceramics.

Mercado La Paloma’s celebration will take place Sunday, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., on 3655 South Grand Ave.

“La Muerte Vive” 

For something a little different, try going to the first annual “La Muerte Vive” (or “Death Lives”) cabaret show. The rock-opera cabaret will feature performances by El Gavachillo (Wil-Dog Abers of the popular Latin band Ozomatli), The Wiseguys (a British electronica/hip-hop band), the 18-piece Big Band Machine and other special guests.

Los Angeles-based artist Santos de Los Angeles scored the play’s music and plans to delve into the history of Día de los Muertos’ holiday traditions through traditional theater, spoken-word performances, music and storytelling.

“La Muerte Vive” will take place Wednesday and Saturday, from 3 p.m. to 11 p.m. both days, at Million Dollar Theatre on 307 South Broadway.