South Street Headhouse District Resurrects Philadelphia's Day of the Dead Festival and Parade

South Street Headhouse District announces the resurrection of the Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead) Festival and Parade, on Sunday, November 2, 2014.  After a twelve year hiatus, this popular celebration returns to honor departed loved ones while celebrating the circle of life. The unique procession will feature spectacular giant puppets, dancing skeletons, traditional Mexican music, strolling costumed spirits, Frida Kahlo look-alikes and a funeral hearse.  The parade route begins at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens (1020 South Street) starting at 1:45pm and ends on the 400 block with food, drink, art and family fun from 2:00pm to 7:00pm. The parade and street festival are free, with food and drink pay-as-you-go. For more information, visit, follow @officialsouthst on Twitter or call (215) 413-3713.

“After all these years, we are proud to bring this beloved festival and parade back to Philadelphia,” said Executive Director Michael Harris. “It will be a day to celebrate those we have lost, contemplate our existence and reaffirm our ties with our ancestors.”

Children and adults are encouraged to come in costume and share food, art, music and fun with their extended community, both living and dead.  Starting at 1:30pm, participants can gather at Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens. While waiting pay homage to deceased family members and friends by writing a chalk message in front of the specially created “ofrenda,” or altar offering up gifts to the dead. The parade kicks off at 1:45pm and feature spectacular giant puppets, dancing skeletons, traditional Mexican music, strolling costumed spirits, Frida Kahlo look-alikes and a funeral hearse (provided courtesy of McGuinness Funeral Home).

Once the procession hits the 400 block, the festival comes to life with music, song and performances from the following:

  • * Mariachi Pedro Villaseñor (1:45pm to 2:30pm)
  • * Los Straitjackets (2:45pm to 3:30pm)
  • * Fuego Nuevo (3:30pm)
  • * Tonantzin Coatlicue (3:45pm to 4:15pm)
  • * Grupo de Danza Nuevo Mexico (4:30pm to 5:00pm)
  • * Grupo Cenzontle (5:15pm to 5:45pm)
  • * Ensemble de Folklore de la Escuela de Música del Estado de Hidalgo (6:00pm to 7:00pm)

The world’s number one instrumental combo, Los Straitjackets, will perform a special preview prior to their show at World Café Live that night where they will perform with the legendary Deke Dickerson in promotion of their new album Los Straitjackets: Deke Dickerson Sings the Instrumental Hits. For tickets and more information, visit

Additionally, participants can enjoy face painting, art demonstrations with Joel Garcia from the Eyes Gallery, Frido Kahlo look-alike contest hosted by the Eyes Gallery, skull tile making, and food and drink from Baron Von Schwein, Copabanana, Farm Truck, Las Bugambilias,Tuk Tuk Real and Woolly Mammoth.  All festival activities will take place on the 400 block, which will be closed to traffic.

Leading up to the Day of the Dead, stop by the Headhouse Square Fountain this week to visit an ofrenda hosted by Brujo de la Mancha (artist, musician, and traditional Aztec dancer). This altar will serve as a place for the community to place objects to honor their loved ones and will include a set of pre-Columbian sculptures provided by Nazbalam, Cascada del Jaguar.

The Day of the Dead Festival and Parade is presented by South Street Headhouse District with support from the Consulate of Mexico in Philadelphia, the Mexican Cultural Center, and in part by grant funding from the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, as part of its Knight Art Challenge.  Guidance is being provided by original organizers, Isaiah and Julia Zagar of Philadelphia’s Magic Gardens and Eyes Galley, and Bill Curry of Copabanana.  

All activities are free and open to the public. Food and drink are pay-as-you-go. Beer and cocktails are available for those 21 and up, with valid identification.

For schedule updates and additional activities, visit, follow @officialsouthst on Twitter or call (215) 413-3713.