In Mexico they call it Día de los Muertos. In the US it’s known as Day of the Dead. In London, however, we tend to know it as ‘Aren’t you a day late for a Halloween costume?’
Not for long, though. This year there’s a rash of events in London joining in with November 1’s colourful, skull-mask-bedecked commemoration of deceased loved ones. The biggest is Wahaca’s four-day celebration at the Old Vic Tunnels (October 31-November 3) on Thursday November 1. There will be kids’ workshops in skull painting and cardboard coffin-decorating during the day (day pass £5); and adult fun in the evening, with street food, mescal cocktails, DJs and a headline set by Mexican flamenco duo (and former thrash-metallers) Rodrigo Y Gabriela.
Bottles of tequila-alike spirit mescal are traditionally laid on the graves of the deceased as gifts. So no surprises that new Hoxton bar Mezcaleria Quiquiriqui is throwing a bash. It will host a Day of the Innocent Angels event on November 1, with mescal tastings and fancy dress; actual Day of the Dead celebrations take place on November 2, with face-painting, free jugs of mescal cocktails for the best costume and DJs playing cumbia: Afro-Latino Colombian party music. Hoxtonites looking for a sexier vibe should head to Slagbox at Hoxton Square Bar & Kitchen on Wednesday October 31. Punters will be encouraged to deck themselves out in skulls and bring a single friend to this quirky dating night where you write cheeky notes to members of the opposite sex.
For a free festival taster, check out Voyage of the Dead: A Moveable Feast. This procession along the waterways and streets of east London (with canal boats, two-wheeled chariots and donkeys) kicks off at 3pm on Saturday November 3 outside CG Hair Salon (546 Kingsland Road, E8 4AH). Expect dancing, chanting, rituals, libations and rites along the way – we particularly like the sound of the moustache death ritual and painting of the sugar skulls. It all ends in a banquet (£25) and afterparty (£10) packed with hula-hoop-dancing, mariachi bands and African drummers. Viva los muertos.
For more Halloween events, check out our Halloween listings.