Day of the Dead

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Local characters

Day of the Dead┬áis the Mexican holiday that brings people together to remember those that have passed away. Rather more celebratory and stylish in nature than our own Halloween, it is a firm fixture on San Francisco’s calendar; particularly in the southern Mission district, traditionally home to San Francisco’s Latino population.

A procession makes its way through the streets of the neighbourhood, and people go to great lengths to get dressed up, paint their faces and make elaborate shrines; either mobile or immobile. It’s a sight to behold: you can really see where Tim Burton gets his inspiration from for his animated films.

As I spend time in this city, it’s nice to discover local events that feel really ancient. This is a ‘new’ city with many transient residents, and it made me realise how much I miss the festivals or events that happen in Europe or Asia that have been happening since time immemorial; things like Guy Fawkes night, where it is not even a question if you participate – it’s woven into the fabric of the country.

I missed Day of the Dead when I was in Mexico by a few weeks, back in 2004, so I was really pleased to see it this time round. Next year I dress up!

Dancers perform at the four intersections of the route; Mayan culture fusing with western religion before your very eyes.

Flamboyant dancers.

An extraordinarily well art-directed event, without any art direction.

Vantage points

Some people slightly less entertained – but the event went off peacefully.

Crowds of people with their own models followed behind.

Local celebrities

The destination on the route is in Garfield Park, with the Festival of Altars. People spend the day setting up little shrines to loved ones, family members, or even pets.

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