Digital Media Center
Bryant-Denny Stadium, Gate 61
920 Paul Bryant Drive
Tuscaloosa, AL 35487-0370
(800) 654-4262

© 2023 Alabama Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Día de los Muertos Festival coming to Birmingham’s Sloss Furnace


Embrace the spirits and celebrate Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead in Alabama. The holiday is traditionally celebrated on November 1 and November 2. It is widely observed in Mexico and by people of Mexican heritage.

The Birmingham nonprofit Bare Hands, Inc. will hold a Día de los Muertos Festival Thursday, November 2 and Friday, November 3 at Sloss Furnace from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.

The event celebrates the lives of those who came before us. Visitors are welcome to add the names of their late loved ones to a memorial role call that will be read on stage at the event. The festival also offers a space for people to set up an ofrenda. These are alters that consist of pictures or items that were once cherished by someone who has died. It is believed that the familiar items on the ofrenda will guide the spirts of the dead back to earth on this special night.

Vanessa Vargas is a board chair for Bare Hands, Inc. She said Día de los Muertos is a night to grieve and commemorate the dead who we once held dear.

“The main element is remembering our loved ones. We do that by creating alters so that people have a space to grieve the loss of the loved ones and show them that hey, we're still thinking about you. We still miss you,” she explained. “It's a way to bring people together and celebrate life… the lives of our loved ones that are no longer with us.”

According to a press release, Bare Hands, Inc. said its Día de los Muertos festival is one of the most intricate Day of the Dead celebrations in the Southeast. The festival expanded to two days to meet the needs of increasing attendance year after year. Organizers say attendees can enjoy massive art installations, music performances and beautiful costumes, to a procession with puppets, homemade altars and food trucks.

“We've embraced departed loved ones in a joyous way for more than two decades, weaving traditions from Mexico to New Orleans and Birmingham,” Vargas said in a press release. “As we reflect on vibrant memories and heartfelt connections, our hearts are full to be able to present this to the community again. May the spirit of Día de los Muertos inspire us all.”

Attendees will also see performances by Premier de America Mariachi, Emilio Crixell & Border Soul, Danza Azteca Xochipilli, Folkloric Dance San Francisco Xavier, a parade led by a procession band and a Frida Kahlo ceremony.

Vargas said this two-day event is a time to enjoy the colorful atmosphere and festivities while honoring lost loved ones.

“It's more than just being able to see alters,” she explained. “You are able to basically immerse but also be a part of it by just getting your face painted, enjoying the music, the food, the bright colors of face painting and dancers.”

The event schedule and programming is as follows:
● 4 p.m. - Gates open
● 5 p.m. - Premier de America Mariachi stroll in Altars Courtyard
● 5:20 p.m. - Folkloric Dance - San Francisco Xavier at Main Stage
● 5:50 p.m. - Premier de America Mariachi to play at Main Stage
● 6:30 p.m. - Memorial Roll call at Main Stage
● 7:15 p.m. - Parade led by New Orleans Style Procession Band
● 7:30 p.m. - Frida Ceremony at Main Stage
● 8 p.m. - Danza Azteca at Main Stage
● 8:30 p.m. - Emilio Crixell & Border Soul at Main Stage

Festival tickets are on sale now for $15 in advance. Children 12 years of age and younger are admitted free. Prices will increase to $20 at the gate and online starting November 2.

Click here for more information on Bare Hands, Inc.’s Día de los Muertos Festival.

Hannah Holcombe is a student intern at the Alabama Public Radio newsroom. She is a Sophomore at the University of Alabama and is studying news media. She has a love for plants, dogs and writing. She hopes to pursue a career as a reporter.
Baillee Majors is the Morning Edition host and a reporter at Alabama Public Radio.
News from Alabama Public Radio is a public service in association with the University of Alabama. We depend on your help to keep our programming on the air and online. Please consider supporting the news you rely on with a donation today. Every contribution, no matter the size, propels our vital coverage. Thank you.