About the Festival

The Oakland Día de Los Muertos Annual Festival is a free, outdoor festival that brings over 100,000 people to the vibrant, culturally-rich Fruitvale neighborhood to enjoy world-class live music, family-friendly games, rides and activities, traditional Latin American artisans, and the stunning altar artistic installations created by community members paying homage to los Muertos. The Día de los Muertos Festival was inducted into the U.S. Library of Congress by Congresswoman Barbara Lee as a “Local Legacy.”

In honor of our 26th Anniversary, and to mark the tumult caused by the pandemic, we are guided by the festival theme of Curando Corazones (Healing Hearts) to create a physical space where people can safely gather and hone in art and culture as tools for community healing. For this reason, the festival will resume in-person activities at a smaller scale, highlighting the ofrendas, Danza Azteca, and low-riders which are all vital elements of the celebration. 

The Fruitvale District in Oakland, a predominately Latinx area, is one of the three zip codes hardest hit by the Covid-19 pandemic in Alameda County. This year more than ever before, it’s critical to create a space for grieving Latinx communities to practice indigenous rituals to heal from pandemic losses. 

**The 2021 Oakland Dia de los Muertos is a masked event**

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History

Article written in the Oakland Tribune on November 2nd, 1997 about the 2nd Annual Fruitvale Dia de los Muertos Festival

The Oakland Día de los Muertos Festival began in 1996 on International Blvd. The original goals of the Festival continue to this day: to document, celebrate, and preserve the traditional celebration of the holiday, and draw new visitors to Fruitvale and support small businesses in the area. This event has taken place rain or shine every year since, and has always been completely free, open to the public, and family-friendly. 

It is believed that on this day, the Day of the Dead, the deceased are given divine consent to visit with their relatives and friends on earth. The annual reunion takes place on November 1st and 2nd, merging the Catholic holy days of All Saints’ and All Souls’ Day with the Aztec Quecholli, the fourteenth month of the Aztec solar calendar that honored warriors. 

Throughout its history, the Festival has used its platform to raise awareness of social justice issues and current events impacting Latinx, indigenous, and Oakland residents. Throughout the years dozens of altars created by local groups and artists have commemorated Oakland victims of gun violence, victims of the September 11th terrorist attack, memorialized the Ghostship fire, and drawn attention to inhumane detention centers for immigrants at the U.S.-Mexico border. Taking place just before the general elections, the Festival has also been a significant opportunity to get out the vote.

Poster Gallery

Every year community members submit their design for the official Festival poster. You can view them all here, and purchase a 25th Anniversary commemorative poster from our booth in the Muertos Mercadito!

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