Virtual: Viva la Vida Fest 2021 – Goes Virtual! Celebrating Day of the Dead, Presented by Austin Convention Center

Oct. 30, 2021

Oct. 30, 2021 @ 12:00 pm 1:30 pm

About Dia De Los Muertos

Celebrated by Mexicans and Mexican Americans alike, as well as others in Latin America, Día de los Muertos/Day of the Dead is an important religious and cultural event that synthesizes pre-Columbian traditions and Catholic Church practices. Originating in ancient Mexico, the annual celebration is increasingly observed in the United States as part of contemporary Latinx popular culture. Day of the Dead blends indigenous religious and cultural rituals with customs surrounding the Catholic holy days:

  • November 1: All Saints’ Day (prayers said to saints and martyrs)
  • November 1: Día de los Angelitos (Day of the Little Angels, dedicated to souls of deceased children)
  • November 2: All Souls’ Day (prayers and offerings made to deceased relatives and friends, especially for souls in Purgatory)

During this yearly event, cemeteries are cleaned. Home and public altars or ofrendas (offerings) are built to honor the dead, who they attract with food, drink, candles, incense, marigold flowers, and objects once favored in their lives.

Photos & Video by Chris Caselli

Parade & Festival

Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva La Vida Fest 2021 Goes Virtual Presented by Austin Convention Center is Austin’s largest and longest-running Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) festival and parade in Texas. Enjoy all the components that make Viva la Vida such a special, vibrant celebration, virtually!

The Mexic-Arte Museum is proud to present Viva la Vida to viewers from all over Austin, and across the world, expanding our popular festival in ways we never thought possible. See footage from parades past, check out Mariposa Plaza for educational activities, and follow along to Día de los Muertos traditions. You can see our 38th Annual Day of the Dead Exhibition in person, or virtually below. Thank you, and welcome to Viva la Vida Goes Virtual!

Coco’s “Dante”
Sergio and Monica Lejarazu
Coco’s “Dante”, 2018
Paper mache, 54” x 42” x 22”
Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection
La Catrina
La Catrina
Patricia Greene
La Catrina, 2017
Paper mache, 109” x 42¾” x 21” Mexic-Arte Museum Permanent Collection

Las Mojigangas

The Grand Parade highlights include magical mojigangas, or large Parade props created by local artists. The Procession is made up of several sections: pre-Columbian icons with Aztec dancers and Chihuahuas; Mexico Lindo y Las Américas includes Catrinas, Ballet Folklorico, Mariachis and more; Chicanx – Si Se Puede! proudly features lowriders, Zootsuiters, Cholas, and more.Everyone else is invited to join in the Austin Weird section, everyone is welcome! ¡Todos son bienvenidos!

Xantolo – Day of the Dead Celebration Music and Performances

In the festivals held by the Nahuas of the Huasteca Hidalguense, various arts are staged to continue traditions and teach new generations. Music, theater, dance and painting take place throughout October and into the first days of November. As part of the celebrations for their dead, the Huastecos offer the harvest of corn and other fruits because they believe the smell of fruits, music and light attract the essence of souls. In Austin, we join in remembering and celebrating our family and friends through multiple art forms.

Sylvia Orozco, Executive Director – Introduction and La Catrina & Jose Guadalupe Posada Lucia & Francisco Chavez
Tlanezi: Teatro Ritual by Laura Yohualtlahuiz
Danza Azteca Guadalupana de Austin
Roy Lozano’s Ballet Folklorico
 Storytime with Danielle Houtkooper
Austin Lowriding

 Dia de los Muertos Face Filter by Augment El Paso
DJ Suxxy Puxxy

Virtual Exhibition

Mary J. Andrade is a prominent figure in the study of Day of the Dead and has documented the celebration in different states of the Mexican Republic from 1987 to 2016. Mary J. Andrade, Cultural Advisor for the Disney Pixar Oscar Winning Movie “Coco,” began researching Day of the Dead in 1987 in Janitzio, Michoacan. Since then, Mary has covered a different state of the Mexican Republic each year, gathering information and taking photographs of the celebration of this pre-Hispanic tradition known as Day of the Dead, a tradition that has evolved through the centuries and has become an integral part of the Mexican spirit and culture. The exhibit features photographs of various areas of Mexico and how this age-old tradition is celebrated in distinct communities. La Ofrenda Tipica de Michoacan was created by Maria Eugenia Flores.

Day of the Dead-Altares Meseta (Plateau) by Mary J. Andrade. This video shows the distinct tradition of the  Dia de los Muertos ofrenda assembled in the homes in the Purépecha Plateau of  Michoacán, in Southwestern Mexico.

Ofrenda Típica de Michoacán

The offerings and the altar dedicated to the memory of the deceased is a very solemn ritual; its purpose is to welcome back the spirit of the departed loved one. On these days, favorite culinary dishes are placed at the altar for the souls to enjoy during their visit with their relatives. In the offering or the altar to the deceased, the four main elements of nature – earth, wind, water, and fire – should be included.

The Earth is represented by fruits. They believe the aroma of the harvest feeds the souls.

Wind is represented by the papel picado (paper banners) that move with the breeze.

Water is placed in a container for the soul to quench its thirst after its long journey.

Fire is represented by the candles. A lit candle represents each soul, and an extra one is placed for the forgotten soul.

Salt is placed at the altar for purification.  

Copal is burned to guide the souls with its aroma. 

Cempasuchitl flowers (“flor de muerto” also known as marigolds) are placed on the ofrenda and sprinkled along the entrance of the house, making a path towards the altar. A mat is placed at the foot of the altar for the soul to rest after their long journey home. Here, family relatives await the arrival of the soul and pay homage and offer companionship. In Michoacán, beautiful offerings in the shape of the four cardinal points are built. They are covered with cempasuchitl flowers, and offerings of bread and fruit are attached. These are used both in homes

Mexic-Arte Museum Collections

Mary J. Andrade Passion for Life, Day of the Dead in Mexico Photography Collection

The Mexic-Arte Museum is beyond proud to announce the recent acquisition of the Mary J. Andrade Passion for Life, Day of the Dead in Mexico Photography Collection. The collection includes over ninety color photos taken 1987 to 2016 from various regions and their unique traditions. These include Estado de Michoacán, the Ritual de la Velación de los Angelitos, and the Celebración de los adultos en Michoacán; Ciudad de México, Mixquic y Morelos; Naolinco, Xalapa, Veracruz; Tlaxcala;  Región Huasteca San Luis Potosí; Región Huasteca de Hidalgo; and Puebla. Mary J. Andrade traveled throughout Mexico every October and November to interview local inhabitants, anthropologists, and anyone with knowledge of how this tradition is celebrated in their communities. Through study and observations, she learned the subtle differences in the way this tradition is celebrated among the different states in Mexico. Above all, she discovered a deep respect for this age-old tradition. Mexic-Arte Museum is truly grateful for this significant collection that documents the tradition of Dia de los Muertos in Mexico.

Tour the collection virtually by visiting the Culture Connect link!

The Ofrenda Mural

Alonso Estrada, Gustavo Estrada and Jen Contreras 

Mexic-Arte Museum, 5th Street

14’8” x 42’

Acrylic on Wall 


This colorful mural depicts a family setting up an ofrenda – a table of offerings- featuring food and treats for deceased family members. In the background, the deceased line up to receive their offerings, pan de muerto, tamales, candies, fruits, beverages and other treats. At the top of the painting, calaveras can be seen participating in the festivities, symbolizing the cycle of life and death. The family decorates the ofrenda, or altar, to honor the dead with flowers, food, and drink.

This mural is inspired by Cleofas Ramirez Celestino, artist from the state of Guerrero. It is a depiction of the true spirit of a traditional Día de los Muertos celebration.  

The Ofrenda Mural will come to life, or will be augmented/animated, by Augment El Paso.   Viewers can download the app via QR code on their phone to make aspects of the mural move.  Animation will include the following: the woman placing a basket on the ofrenda, or altar; the dog barking; skeletons in the back moving – carrying their food back to their home; candles flickering and smoke coming out of incense burner; the papel picado – paper banners – moving with the wind; and butterflies flying. The public may visit the mural at any time, and the mural will be up until the end of November.

Augment El Paso

Augment El Paso is a collaboration between digital and traditional artists, and passionate individuals who wish to enhance the El Paso Del Norte region and beyond, through our unique art, showcases, educational workshops, and service. Our community holds a special place in our hearts, and we love working with local artists! We realize that by working together, we can accomplish something truly amazing.

How it works:

Using the Augment El Paso App, the viewer scans enhanced artwork with their smartphone or tablet device, and 3D graphics begin to populate the display screen. The AEP App uses tracking data within the artwork to tether the 3D graphics directly to the image, causing it to remain in a fixed position, while allowing the user to view and interact with the media from different angles and perspectives. The viewer then has the ability to interact with the digital content and activate animations with the 3D models, audio and video, and can also be directed to external for additional information or content related to the artwork being augmented. Download the app and point it at The Ofrenda Mural and see it come to life!

Mariposa Plaza

Mariposa Plaza, led by our education team, is traditionally where families and children of all ages can participate in hands on, artist led art activities. With our new virtual format, Viva la Vida Festival’s Mariposa Plaza is proud to present the Day of the Dead/El Dia de los Muertos Educational Activity Guide, which can be used by teachers, students, researchers, and more. Follow along with Dia de los Muertos traditions by checking out the activities and lessons below!

Take home Papel Picado & Marigold Flower Kits for children on Oct. 30th at Mexic-Arte Museum. Children must be present to receive an art kit. Supplies are limited, first come first serve.

El Día de los Muertos / Day of the Dead Education Activity Guide

Download the activity guide here!


Food and drink are an essential part of Dia de los Muertos festivities, utilized as offerings placed on altars, or ofrendas, to entice the spirits of loved ones back for a visit. Colorful, decorated sugar skulls are made to adorn altars, gifted to friends as treats, and represent the vitality of life. Pan de Muerto, also known as “dead bread,” is a soft sweet bread shaped into a round bun with bone shapes on top. Try making Sugar Skulls or Pan de Muerto at home by following the recipes below!

Dining with the Dead: A Feast for the Souls on Day

Dining with the Dead: A Feast for the Souls on Day of the Dead book features insights on the origins and practices of Día de Muertos, and more than 100 food and drink traditional recipes from various Mexican regions during the Nov. 1-2 celebrations.  The cookbook conveys the heart of the Mexican family and the beauty of the holiday.  “As Mexicans, we celebrate around food and family,” she says. “Food is one of the most important elements of Día de Muertos since we believe our departed come to stay for one night to celebrate with us, to be with us. We cook their favorite dishes. Through food, we remember them.” The video features a recipe for pan de muerto, a traditional skull-and-crossbones sweet bread baked during Día de Muertos.

This recipe is brought to you by YesMorePlease and Mariana Nuño-Ruiz.The creators of YesMorePlease have released a cookbook, Dining with the Dead, available in the Mexic-Arte store.

Mexic-Arte Museum Store

New at the Mexic-Arte Museum Store! Shop from a selection of Day of the Dead items and Viva la Vida merch both online and in-store.

Viva la Vida Bundle

Show your Mexic-Arte and Viva spirit with our limited edition Viva Bundle! Includes a Viva La Vida 2021 Baseball Tee, your choice of Viva Enamel Pin, and a Mexic-Arte Museum tote bag!

Viva La Vida Baseball Caps

Grab our custom Viva La Vida Baseball caps. Choose from different embroidered designs including Frida, Butterfly, Marigold and Snake sugar skulls!

Day of the Dead Offering Table

Mini Day of the Dead ofrenda (offering) table with assorted handmade items. Each table is uniquely handcrafted by artisans in Mexico, as a result, product may differ slightly from photo.

Measures approx. 6 cm.

“Viva la Vida” Mini Altar Kit

Celebrate Dia de Los Muertos by building your own mini Altar! Arrange these ofrendas while learning about their traditional meanings with a free download of Mexic-Arte Museum’s Day of the Dead Guide!

Kit includes: Medium ceramic sugar skull, small ceramic sugar skull, mini papel picado banner, mazapan De la Rosa *contains peanuts*, votive candle, Viva la Vida paletas, matchbox magnet, mini serape, and a bouquet of paper flower

Packaging box serves as a platform to build your altar. Extra tissue included to decorate your box. Please note all items vary in color and may be different than those pictured. 

Viva la Vida 2021 Goes Virtual!