Immersive Day of the Dead Experience: Altars, Studios, Workshop + More! 2024

On October 30, 2024, we immerse ourselves in all the senses that Day of the Dead offers. You experience the rich cultural and social history of Teotitlan del Valle. No where is Day of the Dead celebrated with more authenticity than in the villages. Our one-day tour starts at 9:00 a.m. We pick you up at a central location in the Historic District of Oaxaca city and return you there by 6:00 p.m. We will let you know the location two-weeks before the tour. Your guide is Eric Chavez Santiago, Oaxaca Cultural Navigator managing partner.

  • Build a Day of the Dead Altar with us
  • Visit the Dia de la Muertos market in Teotitlan del Valle
  • Buy fresh flor de muerto, candles, homemade chocolate, special altar bread
  • Make a Day of the Dead napkin using wild marigolds botanical dyes

You will meet a Zapotec family who will prepare and serve traditional tamales with yellow mole and taste artisanal mezcal. We will discuss traditional altar preparation in this community, culture and traditional. We end the day with a textile and candle studio visit.

What’s Included:

  • Lunch with a local Zapotec family
  • Hands-on workshop–Make a botanical dyed napkin using wild marigold plants
  • Transportation
  • Guided visits including cultural commentary and translation

Why you want to travel with us:

  • We know the culture! We are locally owned and operated.
  • Eric Chavez Santiago is Zapotec, tri-lingual, born and raised in Teotitlan del Valle.
  • Norma Schafer has been living in Oaxaca for almost 20 years.
  • We have deep connections with artists and artisans.
  • 63% of our travelers repeat — high ratings, high satisfaction.
  • Wide ranging expertise.
  • We give you a deep immersion to best know Oaxaca and Mexico.

The artisans we visit in Teotitlan del Valle not only talk about and demonstrate their craft, they discuss their personal experiences and traditions growing up and honoring their ancestors during Day of the Dead. When you participate with us, you will go deep into a rich Zapotec history and culture that pre-dates the Spanish conquest of Oaxaca in 1522, and the settlement of Oaxaca as a colonial capitol.

Our itinerary includes stops to see:

  • a chocolate maker who uses grandmothers’ recipes to make delicious eating + drinking chocolate
  • a famous rug weaving family that works only in the highest quality wool and natural dyes
  • an accomplished women’s cooperative that fashions leather trimmed handbags
  • traditional lunch prepared by a local family who prepares exquisite food

The difuntos enter this world through the sugar cane arches flanking the altar and this portal is necessary to ensure an easy passage. Almost everyone here will have their altars complete by November 1, just in time for the spirits to return at three o’clock in the afternoon. They will stay with their families until November 2, consuming the ceremonial foods from the altar. At three o’clock on November 2, the church bells will ring and announce the time for the difuntos to return to their resting places in the cemetery. We accompany them, leading the way with copal, to ease them back to the underworld, offering prayers for a smooth passage and a promise that we will see them next year.

The offerings on the altars in Teotitlan del Valle include chocolate, bread, and candles. Other foods can include those favored by the deceased: beer, mezcal, coffee, coca cola, tortillas, tamales stuffed with mole amarillo (a village tradition). There will always be peanuts and pecans, eaten here long before the Spanish arrived.

Lunch is a culinary exploration into the traditional foods of the season, including yellow mole tamales, mezcal, and fruit water prepared by a local traditional cook.

Registration and Cancellation. Tour cost is $175 per person. This includes transportation in a luxury van, bilingual guide services with translation, market meander, altar and studio visits, and lunch. Payment in full is required to reserve. In the event cancellation is necessary, we request a 10-day notice (by October 20) to receive a 50% refund. We accept payment with Zelle (no fees) or with a credit card (4% fee). Tell us when you are ready to register and we will send you a request for funds.

To reserve, please contact Norma Schafer by email.

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