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Visit Catrina on the Day of the Dead…

November 1, 2012

The city of Aguascalientes marks el Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) with a colorful celebration of the dead in the city’s traditional 18th annual Festival de Calaveras from October 26 to November 4.

Aguascalientes is the birthplace of printmaker and cartoonist Jose Guadalupe Posada, who created “La Calavera Catrina,” the image most synonymous with the Day of the Dead, in a 1910 zinc etching.

A fashionably dressed skeleton in a large, feathered hat, Catrina was meant to satirize the upper classes who denied their indigenous heritage and imitated Europeans during the reign of Porfirio Diaz, but she has since become an icon of Mexican culture and specifically Dia de los Muertos. The original Catrina is exhibited alongside many of the artist’s other works, in the city’s Museo Guadalupe Posada.

The Calaveras Festival takes place in Aguascalientes’ Isla San Marcos facilities and the city’s Cultural Institute, with 220 events lined up, including live music and theatre, film, parades, tours and bullfighting.

Guadalupe Posada’s legacy will be brought to life in the Fandango de Calaveras, a theater and dance spectacle held daily at the Teatro Aguascalientes.

Aguascalientes is also home to the wonderfully named Museo Nacional de la Muerte (National Museum of Death), which hosts extensive exhibitions related to Day of the Dead and the cult of death.

Buses run from Guadalajara to Aguascalientes in under three hours, with return tickets available for less than 500 pesos. Driving is easy via the Lagos de Moreno toll road for two-thirds of the route. For more information on the festival visit  http://www.festivaldecalaveras.com.mx.

… Or get naked in San Miguel

San Miguel de Allende hosts its own Dia de los Muertos bash, the first annual La Calaca Festival,  from November 1 to 4, featuring a mass nude photograph to mark the occasion

Renowned U.S. photographer Spencer Tunick will be on hand to snap thousands of naked participants in his unique style, having made his name staging similar fleshy photoshoots all over the world, including Mexico City.

The “Spirits” shoot will take place on Sunday, November 4, with the location and exact time yet to be confirmed. Volunteers will receive limited-edition print of the final photograph. To register, visit http://www.lacalacafestival.com/tunick or for more info email  spiritsbyspencer@gmail.com.

The Calaca Festival will feature a large interactive art exhibition in San Miguel’s Parque Juarez, lectures, workshops and guided tours of traditional altars, costumed processions and decorated cemeteries, and performances organized by local artists and cultural institutions. The world’s largest stringed instrument, the “Earth Harp,” will be played in the city center in the evenings, while the event will culminate with performances from local and international musicians on November 3. For more info visit  http://www.lacalacafestival.com.

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