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How to Celebrate Día de los Muertos in Sonoma County

Sonoma County will celebrate Día de los Muertos with a variety of events in October and November, from art exhibitions and sugar skull workshops to live mariachi music and folklorico dance performances.

Día de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead, begins Nov. 1 and ends Nov. 2. The holiday originated in Mexico and honors loved ones who have died. It brings people together through cultural traditions such as the creation of ofrendas, or altars, adorned with photographs, sugar skulls, candles, flowers, pan de muerto (a Mexican sweet bread) and more.

Sonoma County will celebrate Día de los Muertos with a variety of events in October and November, from art exhibitions and sugar skull workshops to live mariachi music and folklorico dance performances.

Ongoing — Art Escape altar building kit: The Sonoma art studio Art Escape is selling altar-building kits for $30, while supplies last. They include traditional items, such as cigar boxes, skeletons and tea lights, that allow people to create and decorate their own mini-ofrendas. Kits can be purchased online and picked up at the studio. 17474 Highway 12, Sonoma, 707-938-5551, artescapesonoma.com/product/dia-de-los-muertos-altar-kit

Oct. 29 — Pan de muerto and paper flower making: The Sonoma Community Center’s art and culinary departments will host two family classes just in time for Diá de los Muertos. From 11 to noon, learn how to make pan de muerto, the Mexican sweet bread used as an offering on altars. From 12:30 to 1 p.m., learn about the significance of flowers on altars and how to create beautiful paper flowers. Children must be accompanied by an adult. Tickets are offered on a sliding scale, from $10 to $75. Room 110 and Rotary Kitchen, 276 E. Napa St., Sonoma, 707-938-4626, sonomacommunitycenter.org/events

Oct. 29 — Hanna Center Community Night: The Hanna Boys Center in Sonoma will host an outdoor screening of the 2017 Disney/Pixar movie “Coco.” The movie tells the story of 12-year-old Miguel, who, despite his family’s ban on music, dreams of becoming a musician. On Diá de los Muertos, Miguel is transported to the Land of the Dead, where he meets sugar-skull skeletons and his deceased great-great-grandfather, a musician. The two embark on a journey to discover Miguel’s family’s history and reverse its ban on music. This event is free and family-friendly. Register here: bit.ly/3CQnKQQ. 17000 Arnold Drive, Sonoma, 707-996-6767, hannacenter.org

Miriam Rivera, 30, attends Windsor’s Día de los Muertos event, Saturday, Oct. 30, 2021. (Kent Porter / The Press Democrat)

Oct. 29 — Regrowing Our Roots: Windsor will host its annual Diá de los Muertos celebration on the Town Green from 4 to 8:30 p.m. This year’s theme is “Regrowing Our Roots.” Vendors will be selling fry bread, tacos, tamales, churros and other food, as well as treats, toys and goods handcrafted by local artisans. Children’s activities will include face painting and workshops on sugar skulls and stretch bracelets. A low-rider car show starts at 4 p.m. Starting at 5:30 p.m., there will be live mariachi music and performances by Sonoma County Pomo Dancers; Danza Xantotl, a Mexican indigenous dance group; and Ballet del Valle, a folklorico dance troupe (bring comfortable chairs). This event is free and family-friendly. Park 701 McClelland Drive, Windsor, diademuertoswindsor.org/2022events

Oct. 29 — Halloween Carnival: Rohnert Park’s Halloween Carnival and Día De Los Muertos Celebration has fun activities for the whole family. The free event will take place at the Rohnert Park Community Center Complex from noon to 5 p.m., with exotic animals, a hypnotist show, carnival games, live performances, a haunted maze, community altars and more. Presented by the city of Rohnert Park and the Latino Alliance and Cotati-Rohnert Park Unified School District Outdoor Education Program. No registration or tickets required. 5401 Snyder Lane, Rohnert Park, 707-588-2226, bit.ly/3euldSV

Oct. 30 — Friends of Monte Rio annual Dia de los Muertos celebration: From 2 to 5 p.m., the Friends of Monte Rio will serve homemade tamales and traditional Mexican snacks at the Monte Rio Community Center. There will be live music by Cumbia Corazón and an ofrenda to honor deceased members of the community. Costumes are encouraged. No tickets are required for this free event. To learn more, contact Fran at fran@friendsofmonterio.org. 20488 Highway 116, Monte Rio, friendsofmonterio.org

Oct. 30 — Día de los Muertos Healdsburg: From noon to 6 p.m., the Healdsburg community will come together at the Healdsburg Plaza to celebrate Día de los Muertos. Friendly to all ages, this event will include live music, dance performances, a car show, food vendors and activities for kids. This event is co-sponsored by the city of Healdsburg in partnership with Corazón Healdsburg and is alcohol-free. For more information, visit ci.healdsburg.ca.us/911/Dia-De-Muertos. Healdsburg Plaza, Healdsburg Avenue and Matheson Street, Healdsburg.

Calaveras ornamentales decoran el altar del Día de los Muertos creado por el artista Peter Pérez en su casa en Santa Rosa el jueves 22 de octubre de 2020 (Foto: Alvin A.H. Jornada / The Press Democrat)
Artist Peter Perez sits beside a painting he created of the Saint of Death, at his home in Santa Rosa, California, on Thursday, October 22, 2020. (Alvin A.H. Jornada / The Press Democrat)

Through Nov. 1 — The Vibe: The Vibe gallery in Petaluma will show works by local artist Peter Perez, who has “explored the life of the dead” in solo shows and altar exhibitions throughout California. His paintings on canvas, with his take on Diá de los Muertos, have been part of an ongoing project for more than two decades. The gallery is open noon to 5 p.m. Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday; noon to 6 p.m. Thursday; and noon to 7 p.m. Friday and Saturday. 1 Petaluma Blvd. N., Petaluma, 707-789-7886, vibegallerypetaluma.com

Through Nov. 6 — Museum of Sonoma County: Through Nov. 6, the Museum of Sonoma County presents its Diá de los Muertos exhibition, which includes large-scale installations by artists Peter Perez and Martin Zúñiga, as well as altars created by local organizations and artists such as Mario Uribe, Scott Braun and Tracy Ferron. Adult admission is $10, senior admission is $7 and children 12 and under are free. The museum is open 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Wednesday through Sunday. 425 Seventh St., Santa Rosa, 707-579-1500, museumsc.org

Nov. 10 — “Hasta la Muerta,” a Day of the Dead Celebration: Make your way to the Green Music Center in Rohnert Park for a Day of the Dead celebration hosted by Las Cafeteras. The Chicano band from East Los Angeles will present their new production, “Hasta la Muerta,” a “passionate, multidimensional performance” that combines traditional folklorico dance with interpretations of classical songs and altars for viewing. Singer-songwriter Lupita Infante will join the band on stage as well. Infante performs mariachi, norteño and ranchera music. Tickets are $25-$75 and are available to buy in person at the Weill Hall box office or online at the Green Music Center ticketing page: bit.ly/3elknI8. 1801 E. Cotati Ave., Rohnert Park, 707-664-4246, gmc.sonoma.edu/hastalamuerte

You can reach intern Lonnie Hayes at lonnie.hayes@pressdemocrat.com.

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