There always used to be consternation that the traditional Christian holiday of All Hallows’ Eve had been superseded by the ghastly Americanism that is Halloween. In Bristol, this in turn has been superseded by Day of the Dead festivities, an Anglicised version of the Mexican Dia de Los Muertos.
Tomorrow, the Day of the Dead Festival takes place in the Lloyds Amphitheatre. In the Parlour Showroom on College Green, the second annual Day of the Dead exhibition from House of Paper is open until November 4. And next Friday at 40 Alfred Place, the Heaven on Earth shop on Upper Maudlin Street are holding Bristol’s first Death Cafe.
The Day of the Dead Festival is a music and arts festival showcasing live bands, dance groups, DJs, salsa, mariachi and competitions, finishing with a fireworks display.
Main stage performers include Dr Meaker, Heg Doughty and the Wolf Chorus, Vamos!, Poppy Perezz, with DJs from Horseplay and Brisfest favourites Shambarbar.
There will be a children’s arts and play zone, with flag and mask making, crafts and facepainting, a funfair with teacup rides and a ghost train, and fancy dress and pumpkin carving contests alongside world foods and market stalls.
The Day of the Dead Exhibition is a collection of illustrations, paintings, photography and 3D work from international and local artists, including Bristol favourites Inkie and 3Dom.
There is also a beautifully created altar (below), known as an ofrenda, with photographs of dead loved ones alongside a few of their personal possessions, with food and drink to help the souls of their departed find their way.
The Death Cafe is most definitely a Bristol first, with Paula Rainey Crofts and Simon Dorgan from bespoke funeral directors Heaven on Earth promising to provide “a safe, relaxed space in which fears and joys of death and mortality can be freely shared in confidence along with tea and delicious home-made cakes”.