HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Once again, the cemetery grounds are covered in marigolds, and the Catrinas are dressed in their best.

For director of dance Gabriel Avila, this is his 20th year, taking part in the Dia y Noche De Los Muertos celebration at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

“I started off as a dancer in one of the dances, right on the lake,” said Avila. “Then slowly but surely became involved with producing.”

What You Need To Know

  • Dia y Noche De Los Muertos is happening on Saturday, Oct. 28, 2023 at Hollywood Forever

  • This year a night and day event will take place

  • Dia de los Muertos is a Mexican tradition that celebrates and honors the lives of those who have departed the physical world

  • Masks of Mexico — Life and Death in the Mask displays ceremonial masks from Zacatecas, Mexico

Hollywood Forever’s Day of the Dead celebrations are among the biggest celebrations in the entire state. The all-day event, which is featuring a day and night event this year, remembers and honors those who have departed the physical world.

It’s a blend of Mesoamerican culture and European religious practices.  

For Avila — it’s a celebration of his culture, art all while honoring his ancestors.

“It’s about remembering and celebrating those that have gone,” said Avila. “But putting it in a physical form, even though they might be with us in a spiritual way.”

Avila says the celebration is more than a celebration — it’s a rich tradition deeply rooted in Mexican culture.  

That rich tradition is on display at the ‘Masks of Mexico — Life and Death in the Mask’ exhibit where co-curator Olivia Marquez and Mario Vera display ceremonial masks that form part of the largest mask collection from Zacatecas, Mexico.

“Each pueblo in Mexico has different traditions,” said Vera. “It’s also important to know that these masks have been used in rituals and dances from each pueblo they originate from.”

While each pueblo’s day of the dead traditions varies, the use of masks during rituals and dances — which dates back to ancient times — is a tradition that has been passed down from generation to generation around the Mexican Republic.

“The flowers, the Catrinas, the dances, the marigolds,” said Marquez. “Even the masks now, they complement the entire event. It’s a small bite of Mexico that you cannot miss in Los Angeles!”

It’s a celebration, an event to transform into a calavera. For Gabriel, it’s also a creative outlet and an opportunity to keep Mexican culture and the memory of those we loved alive.

“It is such a gorgeous environment of welcoming not only our patrons, but the spirits,” said Avila. “It will become a tradition to come again and again and again every year for Dia De Muertos.