Day of the Dead in Patzcuaro, Michoacan and its surroundings
A gorgeous destination may be enough to leave you enthralled, but mixing this natural beauty with the social factor, translated into culture, then you’ll have found a place where you’ll want to return each year to meet that wonderful concoction of a rich culture and the charm of traditions.
This is precisely what happens with the “Día de los Muertos” celebration at Patzcuaro, Michoacan and those small villages that are around. It is impossible not to fall in love with the cempazúchitl petals, candle lights and the solemn tradition.
You should visit Patzcuaro
The relationship of the Mexican people with death is little more than surprising when we compare it with what people from our side of the world thinks about it. To us it is normal to feel fear and reverence for the idea of death, because it feels like the end of everything, destruction and despair. In Mexico, the Santa Muerte is an old companion, a natural part of life that is delicately woven into the fabric of existence.
This is reason to celebrate the “Dia de los Muertos”, not as a sad occasion, but as an opportunity to meet again with those who have left our world, but also to revere your origins, understand your ancestors and connect with your identity. You need to live this experience firsthand, it will enrich your perspective about what is valuable, what you are, where you come from and where you are going. And Pátzcuaro is the perfect place to do it.
Michoacán is a place where the tradition of Día de los Muertos has remained almost untouched. Once a year, the deceased are expected to visit their loved ones. They will cross a luminous path made with cempazúchitl petals until they reach the altars made by their relatives, where they will find an offering made with sweet bread, tamales fruits and other dishes. Everyone will tell you the news of the family, celebrate, pray and thank the meeting. It is simple, but very transcendental.
To make this tradition even bigger and to merge the Purépecha and Christian beliefs that compose it, a celebration has been created that brings together the 20 communities of the region. In fact, the ideal plan to enjoy “El dia de los Muertos” at Michoacan is to make a tour on the night of November 1 that will take you to travel at least 4 or 5 communities, so you can appreciate the celebration with all its variants.
Places you should visit on El dia de los Muertos
The celebration begins on November 1, when the lil’angels are remembered: those who left this plane of existence as children. On November 2, adults are honored. For this, a night procession is made on November 1, where many canoes loaded with candles, flowers, food and music welcomes those who return from the other world. Then the veladas are held at the cemetery, where each family creates a colorful and majestic altar in the grave of their dead. This is accompanied by a cultural festival that brings together artistic expressions such as dance, theater and others.
Santa Fe de la Laguna:
Located one hour from Morelia. Here the altars for the deceased are not made in the cemetery, but in the homes of families. It is possible to visit them, as people open their homes from 7 to 10 pm. It is recommended to maintain an attitude of respect on the altars. You may be invited to pray or participate in the dinner with the community.
Only 11 km from Santa Fe de la Laguna. This is one of the emblematic places of this celebration, because its Pantheon is the biggest and the amount of cempázuchlt flowers will leave you breathless. On the road that divides the cemetery, you’ll find where to buy food, drinks and even small souvenirs or crafts; but don’t fool yourself not everything is this festive. Within the Pantheon the atmosphere is different, silence and solemnity will clothe you. If you can, visit the archaeological zone that remains open at this celebration and enjoy the cultural festival.
It is about 20 minutes from Tzintzuntzan. It is a much quieter, more intimate destination, with an atmosphere of recollection and direct encounter with tradition. It’s better to arrive at dawn to take advantage of the moment of the vigil and prayers. Other places you can visit are Janitzio, Jarácuaro, Ihuatzio and Tzurumútaro.
How to get to Patzcuaro
You can start your trip from Morelia. If you are in CDMX, you can take a bus that in just 4 hours will take you to your destination. If you travel by plane, there is an international airport in Morelia and plenty of connections from a lot of airlines. Once you are at Morelia, you can take a bus at the bus station to get to Patzcuaro. Also, you can share a taxi with other people. The road trip takes about an hour.
Tips to enjoy Dia de los Muertos at Pátzcuaro:
- 1.- At this time of year Pátzcuaro and other surrounding villages are quite cold. The temperature can reach 9°C at night and just 20°C during the day, so do not forget to wear clothes suitable for the weather, especially if you are going out at night.
- 2.- Book your accommodation in advance. Every year the number of tourists who wants to live the El dia de los Muertos experience in this region grows, so hotels and other accommodation can get crowded. A good option is spending the night at Morelia and travel to the villages.
- 3.- Avoid taking or renting a car. It is difficult to find a place to park it, so it is better to use public transport or just walk.
- 4.- If you include Janitzio on your tour, avoid returning to Páztcuaro at 3 or 4 AM, because that is the time of greatest traffic and you will have to make long lines to take a boat. It is better to leave earlier or wait to return little later.
- 5.- Remember that this is a celebration to honor the dead, cultural identity and tradition. In the pantheons avoid alcoholic beverages, have an attitude of respect, do not raise your voice, be orderly and do not take pictures with flash. People are very warm, friendly and attentive, so don’t be afraid to ask questions and talk, always with respect.
- 6.- This party is for the whole family. Children can appreciate the tour during the day and can have fun with cultural festivals, altars that are in schools, squares and homes.
- 7.- The cuisine is varied and impressive. Do not miss the restaurants of the muelle general and small food stands at the municipal market.