October might just be the best month to be in Sedona. Warm days with bright blue skies and billowing clouds are followed by crisp, clear evenings studded with twinkling stars. The leaves are starting to turn brilliant shades of gold and orange. It’s also the month Sedona gets festival fever, and the range of events offered is staggering. Check out everything from art and film, to Native American culture and barbecue. Here’s your guide to the nine biggest and best fests taking place in northern Arizona this month. Mark your calendar because you’re going to be busy.
Dia de los Muertos
If Latin America’s macabre-sounding holiday, Dia de los Muertos or Day of the Dead, makes you want to reach for the nearest crucifix and cry blasphemy, take a deep breath and calm down. The 3,000-year-old tradition is actually quite beautiful; on Nov. 1 and 2, families gather to remember loved ones who have passed away by creating colorful altars, or ofrendas, featuring photos of the deceased and other offerings such as candles, food and flowers. In recent years, northern Arizona has embraced the tradition. For the second year in a row, Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village will celebrate Dia de los Muertos Oct. 29 through Nov. 1.
The main event takes place Oct. 29 from 4 to 8 p.m. The creative geniuses behind Events by Show Stoppers, Ken Heflin and Jim Bullock, will once again create elaborate ofrendas, which will be on display in Patio del Norte and Patio de las Campanas. Everyone from the community is invited to add to these altars with photos or offerings for their own deceased friends, family members and pets. It is believed that by preparing an altar, the grief of death is transformed into acceptance. The free evening also includes flamenco music by guitarist and flautist Drew Bennett and guitarist Eric Miller. El Rincon Restaurante Mexicano will feature a special Day of the Dead-themed prix-fixe dinner (call 928-282-4648 for details). The altars will be on display through 5 p.m. Nov. 1.
“In Tucson, they celebrate with a big parade,” says Jim. “We aren’t there yet, but the response we received last year was very encouraging. We want to build this a little more every year until it becomes a weekend destination. It’s a charming holiday – it makes you feel in touch with those who you’ve lost. You really feel like they are there with you, and it’s comforting.”
For eight years now, Flagstaff’s Museum of Northern Arizona has also celebrated Dia de los Muertos with Celebraciónes de la Gente: A Lively Celebration of the Day of the Dead. This year, it takes place Oct. 29-30. Flagstaff families create altars in the museum’s courtyard, and a large community altar is also on display. The weekend also includes mariachi music, lectures, storytelling and arts. Regular museum admission applies to the event.
Dia de los Muertos, Oct. 29-Nov. 1 @ Tlaquepaque Arts & Crafts Village, 336 SR 179. Free. For more info, call 928-282-4838 or visit www.tlaq.com.
8th Annual Celebraciónes de la Gente: A Lively Celebration of the Day of the Dead, Oct. 29-30 @ the Museum of Northern Arizona, 3101 N. Fort Valley Road, Flagstaff. Admission is $7 for adults, $6 for seniors, $4 for children 7-17, and free for children 6 and younger. For more info, call 928-774-5213 or visit www.musnaz.org.