At first glance, it may resemble a late Halloween party, but this weekend’s Day of the Dead celebration in central Iowa is something completely different from the costumes and trick-or-treating.
Jordan Powers, spokeswoman for the Des Moines Art Center, says this marks the 19th year the facility has hosted the event. “Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead is a Latinx celebration that honors the lives of deceased members of the community,” Powers says. “It’s a festive day of music, dancing, food and drink and remembrances for the entire family to celebrate the lives of their loved ones.”
One enduring image associated with the Day of the Dead festival is what’s known as a “sugar skull.”
“It is truly just a very colorful decoration. It’s definitely a skull but it’s not the scary skull that we think of when we think of Halloween,” Powers says. “They’re usually very floral and very decorated and decorating those sugar skulls will actually be one of our art activities here on Sunday.”
The festival will feature many of the beloved Day of the Dead traditions, including mariachi music, poetry readings, art activities, and refreshments. “We will have a traditional Mexican bread and we will have a traditional Mexican hot chocolate available,” Powers says. “As you can imagine, it’s hot chocolate with a bit of a kick. There’s traditionally a little chili in there so there’s a bit of a spice to it.”
The free event is Sunday at the Des Moines Art Center from noon to 4 p.m. For more information, visit: desmoinesartcenter.org.