About the Festival
Festival de las Calaveras is a Latinx music and arts festival volunteer-organized and presented by the community group Tlalnepantla Arts. The festival is centered on the traditional and contemporary celebration of Day of the Dead, an indigenous Mexican tradition which honors the memory of ancestors and departed loved ones, the duality of life and death, and the corn harvest season.
Festival de las Calaveras is composed of a series of events that take place annually in the fall and include live music, dance performance, puppet theater, visual arts exhibition, multimedia animation, spoken word, and family art-making activities. Festival events take place at leading Twin Cities’ venues, claiming and creating space for Latinx arts, artists, and community.
The Zenteotl Project is the community engagement component of Tlalnepantla Arts and has fused art, Mexica (Aztec) dance, and urban agriculture within a community garden in South Minneapolis since 2009. In 2013, the first Festival de las Calaveras was organized to bring awareness to the Zenteotl Project’s community gardening work that is dedicated to planting organic blue corn, and culminates the corn-growing season with the creation of a Day of the Dead ofrenda (offering) on the same plot where the corn was planted and harvested.
The 2013 and 2014 festivals featured over 50 artists, of whom 87% were Latinx. The 2015 festival featured 60 artists, of whom 90% were Latinx. The 2016 festival featured 83 artists, of whom 95% were Latinx, representing multiple artistic genres.
Festival de las Calaveras addresses limited resources and support for high quality annually produced Latinx arts showcases in Minnesota. Guiding principles for the festival are to build community through Latinx arts; connect and grow the Twin Cities diverse Latinx arts community; recognize and expose local Latinx artists to the Latinx and broader Twin Cities audiences; and promote artistic collaborations among local, national, and international Latinx artists.
This activity is made possible by the voters of Minnesota through a grant from the Metropolitan Regional Arts Council, thanks to a legislative appropriation from the arts and cultural heritage fund.