Today in Los Angeles celebrate Día de Los Muertos at the huge Hollywood Forever celebration which will have ceremonial altars, theatrical performances, Aztec Ritual Dancers, face painting, food trucks, a marketplace, music that includes Aterciopelados, Cuco, Ximena Sariñana, Very Be Careful, La Chamba, and more. Get there early, it gets very crowded.
You can also celebrate the holiday in Grand Park- the altars will remain set up until 11/5, but tonight is Noche de Ofrenda, which will feature traditional dance and prayer led by the local indigenous community, as well as Los Angeles-based poets and musicians.
The Hollywood Christmas Parade is your annual chance to check out this odd, but oddly charming event as it takes over the streets of Hollywood with balloons, marching bands, cars with celebrities/sitcom stars in them, and more. If you get there early head to La Brea and Hollywood where you can take some fun pictures of the balloons in their preparatory stages before they begin their journey. There are usually loads of places to stand along the parade route (seated tickets are already sold out). This year Olivia Newton-John is the Grand Marshal. It’s free to attend but remember that getting around will be difficult as there are many street closures.
Here are some of the things to do to celebrate Día de los Muertos/ Day of the Dead in and around Los Angeles-
One of the biggest Día de los Muertos celebrations in Los Angeles is at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery. For its 17th Annual event the theme is The Tree of Life. This year the featured performer is Julieta Venegas, and there are numerous music and dance performances on the various stages around the cemetery, as well as altars, an art exhibition, local food and arts and crafts vendors and more. ($20)
MOLAA (Museum of Latin American Art) in Long Beach is having an all day festival including a Day of the Dead procession, live music and performances, sugar skull decorating, face painting and more. You can also check out the Museum’s Day of the Dead art and altars exhibit. (free)
San Pedro is having a big Day of the Dead festival with live entertainment, food, an altar competition and more
Downey is having its 4th Annual Día de los Muertos Art Festival. Along with several dance performances, musical performances, two film screenings Macario and Book of Life, an altar contest, an exhibition with local artists and more plus free admission and parking
Through November 2
Self Help Graphics and Art is hosting a free Día de los Muertos party in Boyle Heights with Alice Bag among the musical guests performing, food and craft vendors, face painting, children’s workshops and a traditional ceremonial blessing
Through November 6
Grand Park’s Downtown Día de los Muertos Altars and Art Exhibition spans the park with many creative altars, some traditional and some more contemporary. There is a community altar created by Ofelia Esparza and there are lunchtime tours running through 11/5 with some of the artists.
Los Angeles is a great place to celebrate Halloween and with so many things to do it can get hard to choose. Here are some suggestions:
It’s sold out on Saturday and Sunday but there are tickets available tonight to see Danny Elfman perform as Jack Skellington, Catherine O’Hara as Sally, Ken Page as Oogie Boogie, and Paul Reubens as Lock while a live orchestra plays in sync with the film for Halloween at the Hollywood Bowl: “Tim Burton’s A Nightmare Before Christmas”
L.A. Girlfriend along with Nicky Blitz and Disco Shrine are playing The Goth Ball at Resident where costumes are encouraged
LACMA is screening Pan’s Labyrinth in conjunction with their exhibit Guillermo del Toro: at Home with Monsters
The Santa Monica Zombie Crawl starts at 6pm and has food and drink specials all night as well as an after party ($12 for the wristband)
Villains Tavern in the Arts District is having a free Halloween bash with Rumprollers Organ Trio and a traditional NOLA jazz band
The Boulet Brothers 16th Annual Halloween Ball is at The Globe Theater which will be turned into a night club/haunted mansion. The party includes three floors of DJs, “interactive horror areas”, carnival games, performances and more, with Clive Barker and Drag Race star Violet Chachki in attendance for a meet and greet ($30)
Cinefamily is showing Tim Burton’s Frankenweenie
Cinefamily has two showings of the 1959 Vincent Price film The Tingler with their seats wired to simulate the effect used at the original film’s screening which had seats equipped with buzzer shocks for certain key moments in the film
cARTel Collaborative Arts LA is hosting SpiritSpirit: a cocktail and ghost story pairing at Think Tank Gallery with performances, music, a DJ, craft cocktails, “Summon the Spirits” immersive game, and one prize each for the best dressed- theme and non-theme ($15) . You can also combine it with Think Tank’s escape room and get $5 off with code SPIRITX2
All weekend and Halloween
The theme for this year’s free Haunted House presented by Rotten Apple 907 in Burbank is The Not So Enchanted Forest. Although it is free to go, donations are requested- this year’s charity is VBAS (Volunteers of Burbank Animal Shelter)
The Los Angeles Haunted Hayride in Griffith Park has a “Secret Society” theme this year and for the first time ever passengers will leave the safety of the hay wagon for a section of the trip. There is also a haunted suburb to go trick or treating in, a haunted maze, and more.
Think Tank Gallery is hosting Trap House-a combination art show/ escape room running all day and night. The sci fi/ horror themed art show is free. The escape room is a ticketed half hour experience with a human trafficking and organ harvesting theme.
If you missed The Nightmare Before Christmas at the Hollywood Bowl you could see it in 4D at the El Capitan Theatre in Hollywood
The biggest event in the city has to be the West Hollywood Halloween Carnaval– a massive free street party (500,000 people!) on Santa Monica Blvd. with multiple music stages and a chance to see some of the most creative costumes around. Palihouse nearby has tickets for their rooftop party ($20) and there are also additional parties at several places in the area. Definitely don’t drive there though- it gets pretty hectic!
Organ virtuoso Clark Wilson is improvising a soundtrack for a screening of the classic silent film The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari at the Walt Disney Concert Hall
LA Opera’s incoming Artist in Residence, Matthew Aucoin will create and conduct a new score for chamber orchestra for the film Nosferatu at The Theatre at Ace Hotel
LACMA is showing The Bride of Frankenstein with extended access to the Guillermo de Toro (5-8pm) included in the ticket price ($15-20)
Thinking of staying in this Halloween? You can still enjoy the spirit of Halloween from the comfort of your home, courtesy of two films currently streaming on Netflix.
The first, The American Scream, is the story of three families in Fairhaven, Massachussetts and their personal quests to turn their homes into Halloween haunted houses. The perfectionism and creativity of the attraction creators combined with the support and help of their families, make for an incredibly touching film with plenty of humor mixed in. It’s also a portrait of the community, and it’s a joy to see people come out in large numbers to see the finished work on Halloween.
Part love story, part vampire film, part Western, Ana Lily Amirpour’s debut feature, A Girl Walks Home Alone At Night, takes place in the fictional, often seemingly deserted Bad City in Iran (it was shot in California). With its ghostly oil rigs and a mysterious pit full of dead bodies, it’s also a place with a lot of bad things going on beyond just the local vampire. The Girl spends her nights wandering around town doling out justice and interacting with the troubled locals. One night she ends up making a connection with a young gardener who has done some bad things himself. Although less a traditional horror movie and more a surreal look at isolation and loneliness with horror themes, it is also beautifully shot with a great soundtrack.
Day of the Dead/Día de los Muertos in Los Angeles
Here are some suggestions for celebrating:
Oct.24th- Día de Los Muertos at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery– The theme this year is Shamanic Visions of the Huichol. Lila Downs is one of the musical performers this year and there are altars, art exhibits, theatrical performances, face painting and of course food and drink. This celebration gets pretty busy as the day goes on so go early for the full experience. ($20)
Grand Park will have altars set up throughout the park from Oct. 24-Nov. 2, with events on the 24th
Famous Olvera Street downtown will also have events and altars from the Oct. 24th through Nov. 2, with a Novenario Procession nightly
Fig at 7th is having a free all day event on Friday Oct.30th for Day of the Dead which includes Sugar Skull Face Painting, Tequila Tasting, and music from KCRW DJ Raul Campos
Live music, altars, dance performances, art exhibitions and more are all part of Downey’s free Dia de los Muertos Art Festival on Nov. 1
Halloween is a big deal in Los Angeles with tons of fun things to do. Here are a few suggestions-
Running until Halloween is the Los Angeles Haunted Hayride in Griffith Park. It has five attractions this year including a maze, the House of Shadows, and a Trick or Treat “experience” ($30 for the hayride or $43 for all attractions)
Dark Harbor on the Queen Mary provides haunted horror with monsters and mazes on the boat until Nov. 1st ($20 for “happy haunting hour” or $24 and up depending on extras)
A unique take on being scared is The Alone Experience. After signing a waiver that says you can get wet, be touched, painted on- you are immersed in a 45 minute walk through (and at times crawl through) alone. This review will give you more of an idea of what the experience is like. Running through Nov.1st. ($50)
If women’s issues frighten you there is KillJoy’s Kastle: A Lesbian Feminist Haunted House based on the Christian hell house. An un-dead Valerie Solanas splits you into groups and gives an introduction to what you are in for followed by a feminist zombie folk sing-a-long in the courtyard. Afterwards a crazed women’s studies major leads you on a tour through various rooms filled with “gender-queer apparitions, ball-busting butches, and never-married, happy-as-hell spinsters” among many other frights. Get there by 8:30pm to guarantee entrance. It runs from Oct.23-25, and Oct. 28-30 (free)
Electric Dusk Drive-In is showing Rosemary’s Baby on Oct. 24th ($9 for astroturf, $13 for your car)
Starting Tuesday (10/27) on the roof of the Montalban Theater in Hollywood Rooftop Film Club is showing movies with a horror theme including The Thing, Nightmare on Elm Street, Psycho, Friday the 13th and on Halloween, Beetlejuice ($17)
The Wiltern is showing An American Werewolf in London, The Cabin in the Woods, The Descent and Demons for their pre-Halloween bash, Wiltern Night of Horror. There will also be a costume contest and dance party. ($30)
Oct.30th the New Beverly Cinema has a horror triple feature- Curse of the Demon (1957), Carnival of Souls (1962), and Night of the Living Dead (1968) all for $8
On Halloween (10/31)
West Hollywood’s Halloween Carnaval is a huge free event with a large part of Santa Monica Blvd closed to traffic for costumed chaos. This year’s theme is the Rocky Horror Picture Show. There are also six stages of live music and entertainment if the bars and people watching are not enough.
Street Food Cinema is showing Shaun of the Dead at Exposition Park
The Aero Theater in Santa Monica is showing The Shining
Cinespia is showing The Rocky Horror Picture Show at Hollywood Forever Cemetery ($25)
El Capitan is showing The Nightmare Before Christmas in 4D (it’s pretty magical when it snows in the theater) through Nov 1
One of the more expensive options is Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas Live with Danny Elfman at the Hollywood Bowl. Elfman is playing with the orchestra as the film is shown and the Bowl will be decorated like Halloween Town (as of this writing cheapest tickets available were $80)
The Center for the Arts Eagle Rock is having a Haunted House in a former library with local high school students doing the scaring ($10)
The Well is hosting a Halloween party at the Figueroa Hotel with a long list of musical performers on 3 stages ($40)
The Ace Hotel Downtown is having a Black & White Ball for Halloween with DJs Daniel T, Peanut Butter Wolf, And Vitto and Druzzi. Tarot readings, aura photography and more. Black and white attire required. ($25)