Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival

Provincetown Day of Dead Performing Arts Festival

When: Various events: Beginning Sun, October 21 – Fri, Nov 2, 2018

Where: Various Venues

What: The festival is a 10-day celebration consisting of:

  • Workshops: The Day of the Dead Festival is designed to remember and honor the dead through artistic expressions and a procession honoring the dead. The festival begins with a series of workshops for those who want to express their feelings through creative activities. The workshop series includes print and mask making, “sugar skull” decorating, and tin art.
  • Procession: The festival culminates with the Day of the Dead Procession down Commercial St through town. The Procession is a belief in the power of creativity to help grieve the loss of loved ones – whether friend, family member, partner, spouse, co-worker, animal companion or cultural hero.
  • Celebration: After the procession, the festival will continue with events at Provincetown Theater.

2017 Event Schedule

We’ve left the 2017 schedule of events posted so you can see what to expect for the 2018 festival. Check back in Fall 2018 for the updated schedule!


Printmaking – 2 Sessions

What: A Mexican literary form, literary calaveras are sly poetic epitaphs, critiquing the living – political or cultural figures as well as personal friends or family members – as if they were already passed from this world. Literary calaveras are a way of getting political or personal critique out in a humorous and subversive way, taking public figures or personal relations and exaggerating their features, traits, defects and vices for humorous effect.

José Guadalupe Posada, “printmaker to the Mexican people” whose satirical and politically acute calaveras are most closely associated with El Dia de los Muertos, used his calaveras to create broadsides which he also illustrated. Following in the tradition of Posada, join us for some literary rabble rousing and festive broadside printmaking. All equipment and materials provided. No prior experience necessary. Offering two workshops. Attend one or both sessions.

InstructorsElizabeth Bradfield – Poet, Naturalist, Teacher; Vicky Tomayko  – Artist, Teacher, Musician; Sophia Starmack – Poet, Arts Administrator, Baker

When: TBA

Where: Fine Arts Work Center, 24 Pearl St.  | Directions

Cost: Suggested donation $10-$20 per class, plus $5 materials fee | Register Now

Mask Making: 2 Sessions

What: In the Mexican tradition of El Día de los Muertos, the wearing of a mask is an opportunity to dance with ancestors. The mask is a sacred way to transcend the bounds of ordinary reality and allow the souls of the dead to express themselves during this time of the year when the veils between the worlds of the living and the dead are thin.

In this two-part workshop, create a mask that expresses the messages of the ancestors, energies, plants, animals and all the elements. You’ll make the mask using plaster cast in the first class, and then decorate it during the second class.

Instructor: Gail Morrison – artist, eco-therapist and earth-based spiritual practitioner.

When: TBA

Where: Fine Arts Work Center, 24 Pearl St.  | Directions

Cost: Suggested donation of $10-$20 per class, plus $5 materials fee; Free for those 18 and younger and of Mexican heritage. Register Now

Skeleton Puppets: 3 Sessions

What: The skeleton, calavera or calaca in Spanish, is an icon in Mexican art, especially in the Mexican folk traditions of El Día de los Muertos wherein the skeleton is a reminder to live a good life as time is short and death inevitable. Giant skeleton puppets have come to play an especially significant role in Day of the Dead processions, where they are held high as they move and dance through the night air.

Create your own playful moving skeletons to raise above your heads in Day of the Dead Procession. This is a three-part workshop and materials are provided. Session 1: Build armatures for the body parts of our skeletons. Session 2: Cover puppets with paper mache, Session 3: Decorate with detailed anatomy and glitter. We encourage you to attend all three sessions, but you may also just attend one or two as your schedule allows.

Instructor: Amy Kandall – Artist, Teacher, Ceramicist

When: TBA

Where: Truro Center For The Arts At Castle Hill, 10 Meetinghouse Rd, Truro, MA 02666 | Directions

Cost: Suggested donation $10-$20 per class, plus $5 materials fee | Register Now

Sugar Skull Decorating

Calaveras de azucar (sugar skulls) represent a departed soul. Sugar skull art reflects the folk art style of big happy smiles, colorful icing and sparkly tin and glittery adornments such as feathers, colored beads, foils and icing. Sugar skulls and decorating materials provided.

Instructor: Naya Bricher – Artist, Confectioner and Color Enthusiast 

When: TBA

Where: Unitarian Universalist Meeting House 

Cost: Suggested donation $10 | Register Now

Mexican Tin Art

What: This workshops lets you work in one of the most versatile and beautiful expressions of Mexican folk art – hojalata (tin art work). Hojalata is produced by cutting, shaping, stamping, punching, embossing and painting pieces of tin. Mexican tin art is often created with a sense of humor, imagination and the use of brightly colored lacquered paints. Day of the Dead hojalata include skulls, angels, animal skeletons and human skeletons shown in motion such as dancing, riding a bike or playing an instrument. Elaborate picture frames, excellent for displaying photos of deceased loved ones, are also common forms of hojalata.

Instructors: Jesse & Neile Horowitz – jewelers, Jewelry Studio of Wellfleet

When: TBA

Where: Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St | Directions

Cost: Suggested donation $10-$20, plus $5 materials fee | Register Now

The Art of Dying

We often speak about our quality of life – but what about our quality of death? This workshop provides an opportunity to discuss issues of dying in preparation of our own inevitable deaths. The discussion will focus on creating an Advanced Directive, a legal document and statement of personal medical ethics detailing how one wishes to be treated at the end of life.

During the workshop, we will explore what your actual wishes are with regard, for example, to aggressive medical treatment, chronic or terminal illness or acute trauma, and begin drafted an Advance Directive that explains your wishes. Other issues include pain control, nursing homes, financial limits, right-to-die, comfort, dignity and disposition of remains.

FacilitatorAnne Baer Clark – End of Life Care Practitioner, Poet, Quaker

When: TBA

Where: Unitarian Universalist Meeting House, 236 Commercial St | Directions

Cost: Suggested donation $10 | Register Now

Thu, 11/2

Day of the Dead Procession & Events

WhatDesigned to remember and honor the dead through artistic expressions, the procession is an integral part of the FestivalAt the heart of the Procession is a belief in the power of creativity to help grieve the loss of loved ones – whether friend, family member, partner, spouse, co-worker, animal companion or cultural hero. Afterward, continue celebration at Provincetown Theater with 3 concluding events. 


The Procession is the culmination of the Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival. After the procession, there are several Day of the Dead events at Provincetown Theater.

The Festival also includes a series of workshops that begin on Sun, 10/22. See Workshop Schedule.

When: Thursday, 11/2; Meet at 4:30. Free face painting. Procession begins at 5:30 pm.

Where: Begins at the Harbor Hotel, 353 Commercial St. Route:West on Commercial Street, turn onto Atkins Lane, and end at The Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St.

Day of the Dead Performing Arts Night: 11/2

Day of the Dead Ofrenda Exhibition

What: An ofrenda (an “offering” in Spanish) will be on display at The Provincetown Theater for the evening of November 2 beginning at 6pm.

An ofrenda is created to honor a deceased loved one and to welcome their spirit back for a visit. Items typically displayed on an ofrenda include photos, candles, incense, marigold flowers, pan de muerto, toiletries, sugar skulls, fresh fruit, personal items and mementos of the deceased and favorite foods and drinks of the deceased – all with the intention of encouraging spirits to return home for a visit.

Ofrenda set-up will take place Tuesday, October 31, 4-6pm and/or Wednesday, November 1, 10am-12pm. | Register Now

When: TBA

Where: Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St | Directions

Cost: Free. A cash bar and tacos will be for sale from Provincetown’s Taqueria.

Day of the Dead Performing Arts Night

What: Enjoy a spectacular program of music, dance, song, spoken word and performance art celebrating life and honor death in all its forms and manifestations featuring performance artist Pat Oleszko.

Performers: Oleszko is sure to engage humor and prompt us all, both dead and alive Oleszko’s work includes elaborate costumes, props and inflatables all incorporated into solo performance. Oleszko is a much awarded artist having received 4 NEA grants, 4 NYFA’s, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim, the DAAD (Berlin) and a Bessie for Sustained Achievement. Oleszko has taught at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown.

The event also includes not-to-be-missed performances by Outer Cape artists:

  • Paula Erickson
  • Roxanne Layton
  • Luke Lryjma
  • Sophia Starmack
  • Provincetown & Truro Students
  • Wave
  • Wisdom of the Masks

Where: Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St | Directions

Cost: Suggested donation $10-$20 at the door

Dancing with the Dead

What: Conclude the Festival with a dance party! Music by DJ Emerson Breneman‘s White Animal Sound. DJ Emerson has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and has DJed sunny jams on Mexico’s Pacific Coast.

Where: Provincetown Theater, 238 Bradford St | Directions

Cost: Free

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