About the Festival
The Unity Council’s Annual Oakland Día de Los Muertos 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. Families across California join us to experience live music, Ballet Folklórico, Aztec dancers and to shop at the local artisan craft stands.
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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.
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!