Día de Muertos 2023 | Desert Botanical Garden


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Día de Muertos 2023

DATE: Nov. 4 & 5
TIME: 12 - 6 p.m.
PRICE: Included with membership or Garden admission

Día de Muertos returns to the Garden this fall, featuring an all-new immersive experience by Cultural Curator Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis of Mexico City. This year’s theme is La Catrina and is centered on the history and symbolism of the elegant skeleton figure. Guests will experience a mega community altar, a decorative and floral entry archway and a two-day celebration culminating in a festive procession. Enjoy delicious food, hands-on activities, dance, music and more during this weekend celebration.

Entry Experience 

As you enter the Garden, be greeted by a floral-adorned arch reminiscent of traditional Mexican portals used for various celebrations, symbolizing gratitude and devotion. Adjacent to the entrance are two life-size papier-mâché Catrina and Catrin figures, providing the perfect backdrop for a memorable photo-opp. This entrance introduces the theme of this year’s celebration: La Catrina, the iconic character of Día de Muertos, created by the renowned Mexican printmaker and caricaturist José Guadalupe Posada (1852 – 1913).

Community Altar Exhibit | Webster Auditorium
Oct. 27 | 3-8 p.m.
Oct 28- Nov. 5 | 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily

The community altar in Webster Auditorium also curated Ulrike Figueroa Vilchis, builds upon the theme of La Catrina, now an iconic figure, who gained her distinct look in Diego Rivera’s 1947 painting “Sueño de una tarde dominical en la Alameda Central”. The exhibit features a central altar showcasing 25 rebozos. At the altar’s pinnacle, a grand papier-mâché bust resembling Posada’s original La Catrina will take center stage, surrounded by 49 intricately crafted papier-mâché figures representing iconic Mexican personas like José Guadalupe Posada, Diego Rivera, Frida Kahlo, María Félix, luchadores, Cantinflas, gardeners and more. These outstanding figures were created by internationally renowned artists Oscar Becerra Mora and Rubén “Mica” Castillo Navarrete from Mexico City.

Additionally, Webster Auditorium will be adorned  with two paper flower walls, papel picado hanging from the ceiling, a food offering, cempasúchil flowers, candles and Oaxacan artist, Rufina Ruiz López’s, life-size adorned clay skulls. We invite the community to participate by sharing memories, wishes and photographs of their loved ones on any of the altars.

La Procesión 
Nov. 4 & 5 | 5:30 – 6:30 p.m.  

Guests have a chance to celebrate Día de Muertos with dancers, musicians and illuminated alebrijes brought directly from Mexico, mirroring the Great Día de Muertos Parade in Mexico City. These illuminated alebrijes, created by papier-mâché artists named Ilumiteatro Monumental, employ a unique technique to achieve translucent surfaces for illumination. Participants can also place wishes and memories of loved ones on illuminated trees on Sunset Plaza.  


Binns Wildflower Pavilion

  • Facepainting | Have your face painted in a Día de Muertos calavera style

Steele Herb Garden 

  • Decorate sugar skulls with Creative Calaveras (fee applies0
  • Paper Flowers | Make paper flowers with artist, Oliverio B.
  • Nichos | Create a colorful nicho with artist Melissa Martinez

Mercado | Boppart Courtyard

  • Arte De Mi Tierra | Mexican textiles, hand-embroidered good
  • Aurora’s Creations | Flower crowns, catrina hats, bags and fans
  • Cajitas Lindas | Shrine boxes known as cajitas
  • Carolina’s Chocolate | Quality dark spicy chocolate candy
  • Dance Masks by Felipe Horta Tera | Carved wooden masks for traditional dances
  • Después de la Vida Art | Homemade earrings, headpieces and more
  • Funkychickeneggranch | Mexican folk art
  • GinasOriginalAZ | Handmade upcycled jewelry
  • Mano y Metate Freshly Ground Mole Sauces | Dry spice mixes to make Mexican mole sauces at home
  • Marco Albarran | Día de Muertos art and personal handmade art creations
  • Maxica Colectivo | Handmade Breadwork
  • Monica Gisel | Fine art prints and giclées
  • Oaxaca Imports | Handmade pottery and artwork

Marigolds: A Flower to Celebrate Life
Nov. 5 | 10-11 a.m. and 11 a.m.-12 p.m. | Members $23.95 General Admission $29.95
Vibrant orange and yellow marigolds, or cempasúchil, celebrate life during Día de Muertos. Learn how to grow and care for these powerful plants, from selecting the right soil to how to plant marigolds in containers. Participants will propagate their own marigold plant from a cutting to take home along with instructions to care for these beautiful blooms. Instructed by Angelica Elliott. After the class, enjoy the rest of the Día de Muertos festivities at the Garden! Garden admission is included with purchase.
Click here to purchase class

This event maybe photographed or recorded for promotional purposes. Rain or Shine. While supplies last for make-n-take activities. Programming subject to change.


Sonoran Sippin’ 2024

July 19, Aug. 16, Sept. 20

Enjoy a complimentary cool drink, included with ticket, and soak up the summer sunset at the Garden with pop-up experiences and desert views.

Flashlight Nights 2024

July 20, 27, Aug. 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 and Sept. 7 & 14

Escape the heat and explore the Garden after dark with family and friends! Discover the Garden’s five thematic trails, encounter desert creatures, and immerse yourself in the captivating nighttime ambiance with cool drinks and treats.

Great Milkweed Grow Out Tour

July 24, 26 & Aug 14, 16

Join us for a behind-the-scenes tour of our plant and insect ecology program! Learn about and experience firsthand our research with butterflies and their hostplants, and visit our onsite propagation area to see how we grow plants for pollinator conservation around the state.

Become a member and get unlimited access all year!