College of Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences

Celebrate 2023 Dia de los Muertos at CSUMB

dia de los muertos skull


Join us at the Department of Performing & Visual Arts Visual and Public Art program's 26th Annual Day of the Dead Celebration at CSUMB on Thursday, November 2, 2023, 5-8 pm, VPA Complex Building 70. 

Our annual Dia de Los Muertos/ Day of the Dead event includes a processional, large­ scale altar, Aztec dancers, Baile folklórico, traditional Mexican refreshments (pan dulce and chocolate caliente), club, sorority and fraternity altars, student artwork, and a cross section of students, faculty, staff and local community members. The Day of the Dead Event includes a series of hands-on workshops, interdisciplinary class presentations, support for the development of club altars, and the preparation of materials such as papel picado and sugar skulls. Dia de Los Muertos/ Day of the Dead introduces diverse aspects of our campus community and regional cultures, and this year’s celebration includes a large community altar and the wall of remembrance memorial––students and regional community members are invited to add photos of loved ones that have passed.

Acknowledgements:  The 26th Annual Day of the Dead Celebration is an event led by the Visual and Public Art Program, and is made possible through support, contributions, and collaborations with the Otter Student Union, OC3, El Centro, MAERSTROs, Spanish Club, Undocu-otters and Allies, and CSUMB Special Event funding.  This year's event will include Baile Folklórico, Aztec Dancers, drummers, a processional, musical performances, and a community gathering at the VPA Complex (Building 70, VPA project space).

Celebration Schedule:  

  • 4:00-5:00pmCalavera and Sugar Skull Face Painting: 4-5pm (@ El CentroBuilding 12, Room 125
  • 5:00-6:00pmCalavera and Sugar Skull Face Painting: 4-5pm (@ VPA, build. 70
  • 5:00-7:00pm: Day of the Dead Exhibition & Altar Viewing at Main Altar (see below)*
  • 5:30-6:30pm: Chocolate Caliente y Pan Dulce
  • 6:00-6:30pm: Baile Folklórico (CSUMB Spanish Club)
  • 6:30-7:30pm: Aztec Dancers & drummer Processional (Aztec Dancers Procession by Movimiento Cosmico: Indigenous Art, Culture, and Dance)*
    Aztec Dance procession will begin at 6:30pm and include a full Aztec Dance Performance, Ancestral Wisdom/Palabra, and Indigenous land acknowledgement.
*Main Altar, (VPA build. 70). You are welcome to bring a photo to place on the main altar. The main altar provides community members an opportunity to recognize the memory of loved ones who have passed away by finding a joyful spirit of endurance in a difficult time.

Free T-shirts!  Available at registration table (VPA, building 70), first come, first served.  For efficiency, please register ahead of time.

For ADA accommodations, please contact Heady Wainscoat at 

Leading up to this celebration at 5 pm, are a series of events offered by the new El Centro Center for Latinx Student Success:

  • November 1, 5-7 pm: Enjoy a screening of "La Muerte Baila"
  • November 2, 4-6 pm:  El Centro and the MAESTROs Project offer a face-painting activity at the Student Center/Building 12, Room 125 

For more information on this year's celebration, please see the University Communications article by Walter Ryce on the dashboard or via this link:  Celebrating Dia de los Muertos the CSUMB way | California State University Monterey Bay.

We look forward to seeing you at the celebration!


More about Dia de los Muertos at CSUMB

Dio Mendoza at Altar
VPA Day of the Dead Artwork by Dio Mendoza

When Dia de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, arrives, family members of departed souls set out water, candles, food and decorated sugar skulls to welcome their lost loved ones. Widely celebrated in Latin America, the day honors the dead as living entities. It celebrates the departed, and helps keep them present in life.

The primary goal of the Day of the Dead here at CSUMB is to provide a community-building experience for students, the campus, and our surrounding communities. The event helps to break down isolation as it brings together in an active arts expression diverse members of our campus community. Because it takes place in a central space, it allows students who might not normally have the opportunity to interact to share in a collective expression of history and memory. The ceremony provides students a chance to learn arts traditions such as making sugar skulls, papel picado (paper cutting), flower arch preparation, and altar construction.

The annual Day of the Dead event includes a processional, large-scale altar, performing Aztec dancers, traditional Mexican refreshments, student artwork, a series of hands-on workshops, inter-disciplinary class presentations, and community youth projects. The event begins with face painting at the Student Center, followed by a candlelight processional with Aztec dancers, drummers, musical performances and folkloric dancers at the community gathering at the main altar at the VPA Complex. This event also includes a collaborative altar comprised of work by students in classes across campus as well as altars made by students in the VPA Day of the Dead class. The main altar display provides the campus community with an opportunity to recognize the memory of their loved ones who have passed away and to find a joyful spirit of endurance in a difficult time.

The Day of the Dead celebration is part of an ongoing tradition begun in Meso-American times in Mexico. The traditions come from a cultural practice of honoring the dead through offerings, spectacle, and celebration. This celebration includes altars and spiritual acts of remembrance. Since 1995, VPA has transformed this tradition into a contemporary cross-cultural ceremony of memory. Annually, the event draws between 200-300 participants from across the campus and regionally as a place for family-based gathering.

The curriculum of Day of the Dead offers a cross-cultural approach to community memory and engages the campus in community building. The celebration of this tradition exemplifies the vision of the University, and in particular, global interdependence, ethics, inter-disciplinarity, community service, and cross-culturalism. The event itself is a community-building experience, bringing together youth from our local communities, students, faculty, and staff.

Dia de los Muertos Snapshots:

Aztec Dancers

Main Altar

Student Altars

Face Painting

Sugar Skull Workshop

Sugar Skulls Drying

Pet Altar

Papel Picado

Mona Celebrates

Aztec dancers lead the procession
participants in procession