Day of the Dead Parade Debuts in Mexico City, Inspired by James Bond

If you're a fan of Mexican culture, you know that Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) is a time for remembering deceased loved ones and also taking an artistic and sometimes playful look at death. And if you're a fan of James Bond films, you also know that the opening scenes of the movie Spectre took place in Mexico City, during a rather grand Día de los Muertos parade. The thing is, that parade didn't actually exist, and it wasn't part of Mexico City tradition. Until now.

Face painting creativity at Mexico City’s first Day of the Dead parade.
Face painting creativity at Mexico City’s first Day of the Dead parade.

On October 29, 2016, Mexico City debuted its first-ever Día de los Muertos parade, inspired — believe it or not — by the 007 film. I was excited to be in attendance, covering it for my Latin America travel blog, LatinFlyer.com. Some 250,000 participants and spectators gathered along the broad Paseo de la Reforma boulevard for a festive march that showcased a variety of creative costumes. There were skeletons in various forms. There were colorfully painted mock coffins. There were catrinas (women dressed in elegant, early-20th-century garb and painted like skeletons). There were pre-Hispanic performances. And there was lots and lots of creative face paint.

Pre-Hispanic style at the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City.
Pre-Hispanic style at the Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City.

The parade ended at the Zócalo, one of the world's largest city squares, where dozens of altars fashioned to resemble trajineras (the boats that ply the pre-colonial canals of nearby Xochimilco) glowed in the fading light. Street artists painted the faces of anyone who needed some creative style and could afford the 80-peso price(we did it ourselves and were very pleased with the results).

Marigolds are the official “flower of the dead” in Mexico.
Marigolds are the official “flower of the dead” in Mexico.

With the new parade — an event that will likely take place annually — Mexico City's Day of the Dead celebrations extend further than before; you can find people dressed up again on Halloween, as well as the traditional dates for Día de los Muertos, November 1 and 2. The neighborhoods of Coyoacan and Mixquic are among the areas of the city to witness more of this fascinating commemoration. Mexico City is a place that knows how to celebrate, and the new Day of the Dead parade is one more large-scale example of that.

Giant skeleton on the roll at the first Mexico City Day of the Dead parade.
Giant skeleton on the roll at the first Mexico City Day of the Dead parade.
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