Celebrating the circle of life: ‘Day of the Dead’ in Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit

Every year on November 2nd the sound of bells, smell of Pan de Muertos bread and sight of intricate altars signal that Día de Muertos (Day of the Dead) has arrived. To experience true Mexican culture, this is a holiday not to be missed…
Contrary to popular belief ‘Day of the Dead’ in Mexico is far from morbid, with colourful festivities characterizing this iconic occasion, which dates back over 3,000 years. In Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit, two striking, picture-perfect, neighbouring regions on Mexico’s tranquil Pacific Coast, this cultural tradition is proudly upheld. Through a variety of different events, which mark the annual festival, visitors are given the unique opportunity to join with locals and uncover the mysticism behind this celebration.
With vibrant flower arrangements covering the landscape and lively parties lining the streets, Puerto Vallarta and Riviera Nayarit ironically come alive on November 2nd. Various activities take place in several public sites across the coastline. In shopping centres and local schools altar building contests are held, as well contests of commemorative rhymes and poems, reinforcing that children are taught from an early age that death is part of their culture and a natural part of life.
There will also be a traditional celebration at the famous Rio Cuale Market in Puerto Vallarta, with on-stage performers ensuring the festivities run on late into the evening. Or for a more spiritual journey, when the sun sets visitors can choose to experience Vallarta Adventures’ special Rhythms of the Night Show, or indulge their sporting passions via a spectacular themed golf tournament, set to take place at El Nayar Golf Course at the Mayan Palace Hotel Complex. This 9-hole competition is made unique through distinctive touches, such as thematic Day of the Dead decorations and LED-lit golf balls.  
Around Puerto Vallarta’s City Hall and along the statue-decorated Malecón, as well as in cemeteries and churches across Riviera Nayarit, exhibitions of altars will be positioned for visitors to enjoy Mexican creativity and marvel at these pieces of art. While here be sure to take a look at the decorative skull ornaments (commonly called Calaveras in Mexico), which are sold in a wide array of colours and designs. In local homes the day is also marked by the building of traditional altars or shrines of the dead, an offering dedicated to a loved one, or even an inspirational famous figure. These altars are often decorated with sugar skulls, orange marigolds and the favorite foods of the individual. It is widely believed that the dead return on this day to be with the living and enjoy everything they used to when alive, therefore these altars are seen as a way to guide spirits home.

Expect to see parades of people dressed up like skeletons, adorned with realistic make-up and lavish costumes, toasting loved ones with tequila in a fiesta of remembrance, all in a paradisiacal setting amidst the mountain ranges and palm-fringed beaches that make this part of the world so magical…
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