This year, if there’s one thing Dìa de Los Muertos in the Gourmet Ghetto promises not to be, it’s low-key. “We are going all out,” said organizer Lisa Bullwinkel. The fact that the event will coincide with November 2nd’s Off The Grid, Berkeley’s popular weekly street-food fest — and takes place right next to the food trucks — should ensure a lively and engaged crowd.

Dìa de Los Muertos celebrates those who have passed on, and it has been marked in Berkeley’s Gourmet Ghetto for the past two years. The additions to the festivities this year include interactive craft stalls, a beer and wine stand, and the Con Permiso Mariachi band. A community altar, or ofrenda, is being created for and by community members who may bring photos or stories of their loved ones, candles, breads, or flowers to add to the altar.

Masked participants at last year’s Dia de los Muertos celebration in Berkeley
Masked participants at last year’s Dia de los Muertos celebration in Berkeley

Some of the many activities on offer include: free skeletal face painting, 5-7:30 pm, and a contest for the best grown-up costumes and giant papier mâché heads. Prizes will be awarded at 7:30 pm. After the judging, Berkeley High’s Cuatli Mitotiana Mexica Aztec Dancers perform and then lead everyone in a sidewalk candlelight procession through the district for about an hour following a path of strewn marigold petals.

A separate children’s Halloween costume contest will be held earlier in the week on Halloween, October 31, 4 pm at Epicurious Gardens, 1511 Shattuck Avenue. Prizes at that costume contest are a free scoop from Lush Gelato.

Crafting activities will include a custom screen-printing station, making paper masks, flowers and puppets, free face painting, and henna skin painting.

Gourmet Ghetto restaurants plan to create special “Ghoulish Gastronomique” menus that will be served from Thursday, October 27 through Wednesday, November 2 for the entire Halloween/Dìa de los Muertos weekend. You might find treats such as deviled chicken, one-eyed monster pizza, creepy crèpes, or ghoul’s eye soup on their menus.

To get a taste of the event, for which Berkeleyside is a media sponsor, watch the beautiful video above created at last year’s Dìa de Los Muertos parade by Berkeleyside reader Mark Day.

Dìa de Los Muertos in the Gourmet Ghetto is on Wednesday, November 2, 5-9 pm, at Shattuck Avenue between Rose and Vine Streets. For more information visit the website of organizers Another Bullwinkel Show.

To find out about more events in Berkeley and nearby, bookmark Berkeleyside’s recently launched Events Calendar. We also encourage you to submit your own events.

Tracey Taylor is co-founder of Berkeleyside and co-founder and editorial director of Cityside, the nonprofit parent to Berkeleyside and The Oaklandside. Before launching Berkeleyside, Tracey wrote for...