Denver Botanic Gardens continues its annual celebration of Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) and adds a themed cocktail event called Calavera Ball: ¡Viva la Muerte!, along with expanded adult and family educational programs. Events and classes take place October 11, 17, 19, 26 and November 1 at the York Street location.
The customs of Día de los Muertos are based on ancient traditions of the Aztecs in Mexico. It is believed souls of the deceased return from October 31 through November 2 to enjoy the pleasures of life. Families make altars and place a photograph of the departed along with offerings of food such as bread baked in shapes of skulls, candles, incense and marigolds known as cempazuchitl on the altar.
Family Workshop: Pumpkin Carving for Día de los Muertos
Saturday, Oct. 11, 2-4 p.m.
$47, $42 member per family (up to 5 people and materials included)
Families carve pumpkins with Día de los Muertos stencils to honor loved ones who have passed. The workshop is led by Barry Brown, a master pumpkin carver who has been featured on David Letterman, The Tonight Show and Good Morning America. Each family receives one pumpkin, a pattern and a mini-kit of Barry’s favorite carving tools.
Workshop: Día de los Muertos Sugar Skulls
Saturday, Oct. 17, 10 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.
$42, $37 members (materials included)
In this workshop for adults, Mexican folklorist Rita Wallace presents an introduction to the customs of Día de los Muertos and the symbolism of sugar skulls. Participants learn how to make sugar skulls and receive two sugar skulls and the materials to make at home.
Workshop: A Day with La Catrina
Sunday, Oct. 19, 1-2:30 p.m.
$39, $36 member (materials included)
Learn about the history and cultural significance of La Catrina, an iconic character brought to life by the Mexican illustrator and printmaker José Guadalupe Posado. Rebecca Romero, a Denver-based artist, leads participants of this adult workshop as they create a skeleton figurine, wearing a traditional Día de Los Muertos (Day of the Dead) costume. The program is in partnership with CHAC Gallery and Cultural Center.
Family Workshop: Día de los Muertos
Sunday, Oct. 26, 10 a.m. and 1:30 p.m.
$29 adult/child combo, $26 member adult/child combo, $13-$15 additional person (materials included)
Discover the cultural traditions of Día de los Muertos with the whole family. Learn how to make and decorate sugar skulls while learning about the cultural significance of these important icons. Each person will make and take home two sugar skulls.
Día de los Muertos
Saturday, Nov. 1, 9 a.m. – 2 p.m
Included with Gardens admission, free for members
Festive, family-friendly activities include sugar skull decorating (while supplies last), paper altars with Museo de las Americas, planting station, papel picado necklaces, community altar exhibition and $5 face painting (9 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.). Special, costumed processions led by La Danza Guadalupana Matachina take place 11:30 a.m. and 2 p.m.
Calavera Ball: ¡Viva la Muerte!
Saturday, Nov. 1, 6:30 – 10 p.m., VIP Preview 5 p.m.
$60, VIP $75
This new, one-of-a-kind interactive cocktail party celebrates and explores Latino cultural heritage through the Día de Los Muertos holiday. The celebration features live entertainment, special cultural food and beverage, community altars, face painting, a live art demonstration and a piñata silent auction in partnership with Cole Arts and Science Academy. Food and beverages are provided by La Sandia, Coyote Gold, Dos XX and Breckenridge Brewery. Cocktail or traditional Día de los Muertos “Catrina” or “Catrin” attire is encouraged. All guests must be at least 21 years of age with valid ID. In addition to all programmed activities, the VIP ticket includes early entry with light hors d’oeuvres, specialty cocktails and a handmade commemorative piece.