Every year for nine days, Olvera St transforms for the Day of the Dead festival or Dia De Los Muertos. Day of the Dead is a Mexican holiday that celebrates life and the loved ones that passed away during the previous year. The festival includes memorials, dancing, face painting, music, and food, all along the famous Olvera St in downtown Los Angeles. I have always wanted to go and finally took the time to check it out this year. It is over for the year (2017), but be sure to go next year if you like what you see here.
- 9-day festival culminating on Nov 2nd
- Great opportunity to take the train as it is right across from Union Station
- Location: 10 Olvera St, Los Angeles, CA 90012
- I wrote this in 2017, so some of the information may have changed
Olvera St is located right off the Alameda / Union Station exit on Highway 101. There is a small paid parking lot right near the corner of Alameda and Arcadia if you can find a spot in it. Also, you can take the train or metro from all over LA to Union Station and just walk across the street as well.
During the nine days of the festival, it runs pretty much all day and culminates in the nightly procession that goes from about 7 PM – 8 PM. I recommend getting there a few hours before the parade so you can shop, eat and explore the festival, here are some of the highlights.
Getting your face painted with the traditional sugar skull art style that has become synonymous with Day of the Dead is incredibly popular. The prices range from $20 – $45 depending on whether you want your full face painted or not and be prepared to wait as it can take a while to get through the line.
Olvera St is a pedestrian-only walkway of shops that sell everything from small trinkets to clothing. You can walk the aisles and look at all the options, but do note that there is usually a large crowd, so walking can be slow.
All around the festival there are fruit and drinks you can buy, as well as Mexican food at many of the restaurants.
My favorite is Cielito Lindo at the end of Olvera St, which has been selling famous taquitos with avocado sauce for over 80 years. Cielito Lindo is another spot you should be prepared to wait at, but it is worth the wait.
All around the center pavilion in Los Angeles Plaza Park, you will see the memorials set up to honor those that passed away.
These are beautifully crafted with lots of flowers, photos, and other things the person enjoyed in life.
These memorials are one of the most popular parts of the festival, and there are always a lot of people checking them out.
The last thing you will want to see on your visit is the nightly procession that starts at 7 PM.
This parade is a celebration of life and features musicians, people dressed up, and a lot of incense.
It is a visual experience that you do not want to miss, and it ends with dancing and presentations right in the central pavilion.
After the procession, my wife and I left the festival and headed back to the car. It was a fun experience and one that I am sure I will do again in the next few years. Check out this video to see more of the highlights.
Let me know what you thought if you went in the comments.