Celebrate the past, present and future at Harbourfront Centre’s annual Day of the Dead festival

Toronto’s longest running Day of the Dead celebration returns this year for its twelfth edition. Presented by Scotiabank, this two-day festival includes a diverse range of events that are sure to make for a remarkable experience. From face painting and traditional mariachi music, to dance performances and calavera (sugar skull) decorating, to kids’ crafts, our Day of the Dead festival will give you something to celebrate.

In honour of Harbourfront Centre’s Day of the Dead celebration, let’s explore five facts about the Day of the Dead tradition:

  1. How old is the tradition? The Aztecs began their Day of the Dead celebrations approximately 3000 years ago. Rather than mourning their deceased ancestors, the Aztecs held annual celebrations to honour the lives their ancestors had lived. The Aztecs often built ofrendas (altars) and brought offerings to welcome and celebrate the spirits of the deceased. Check out the different ofrendas this year honouring those who have passed.
  2. Calaveras (sugar skulls) are an integral part of traditional Day of the Dead celebration. These decorated skulls are offered to the beloved departed as part of the ofrendas. Italian missionaries brought this tradition to the New World in the 17th century. Don’t miss our special Calavera Decorating Workshop, but be sure to stop by early, only 200 sugar skulls will be available each day.
  3. Did you know Day of the Dead has its own traditional dish? Pan de muerto (bread of the dead) is a sweet roll made specifically for this celebration of life. Be sure to try this traditional Mexican food at Pancho’s while you’re here for the celebration.
  4. Who is the lady of Day of the Dead? La Calavera Catrina has become an iconic figure in Mexican culture who represents death and how individuals face it. Be on the lookout for las Catrinas as they roam our site, or get into the Day of the Dead spirit with free face painting courtesy of Scotiabank.
  5. Did you know Day of the Dead celebrations are all about community involvement? The festival takes to the streets with parties, parades and festivals. The soundtrack of our party will feature, Mariachi los Gallos, and other popular Mexican folk music.

Join us this weekend for our Day of the Dead festival and celebrate the past, present and future.