Day of the Dead — Historic Dia de los Muertos — at historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery

Discover LA by Metro:

Hollywood Forever Cemetery Hosts Spirited Fiesta 

Dia de los Muertos, Saturday, November 1

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, an LA icon opened in 1899, is an amazing backdrop for Dia de los Muertos (Day of the Dead ) — a Mexican cultural holiday honoring ancestors and departed relatives.

Now in its 15th year, the Hollywood Forever celebration, beginning at noon, centers around family altars, with plenty of festive dance, food, costumes, and musical entertainment throughout the day and evening. Traditional ceremonies, musicians and dancers, as well as contemporary Latin artists can be seen on three stages.

You can purchase food from a large selection of vendors. However, we found the food lines to be very long once the dinner hour arrived — so plan ahead and get in line early. Outside food and drink are not permitted.


Family Altars Venerate Departed

The scope and size of the family altars will amaze. These altars, encouraged by cash prizes, are elaborate artistic constructions honoring the lives of the departed with sensitivity and, often, humor.

Click on photos in the gallery below to view as a slide show

Hollywood Forever describes the celebrations as:

HollywoodForever-faces_9681“…a gateway for those who wish to re-acquaint themselves with their deeply rooted traditions and profoundly engage with one of the most devotional celebrations for the continuous cycle of life. At the heart of this sacred event are the meticulously individually crafted altars and spiritual shrines. These dazzling private tributes and offerings which provide a linkage between ancient traditions and modern customs chronicle the perpetual relation between faith, family and history. Representing and understanding the vitality of this ancient custom, [cemetery directors] conceptualized the necessity of incorporating this enigmatic mystical custom to thrive within the realms of the Forever cemetery.”


Painted Faces, Elaborate Costumes Enchant

Faces colorfully painted as calacas (skeletons) are the major theme. You can have your face painted at the event or come already bedecked. Although not related to Halloween, the costume aspect of Dia de los Muertos is one of the highlights and, unlike Halloween, the costumes follow tradition. There is also a costume competition, which insures a great parade of fashions.

Click on photos in the gallery below to view as slide show

The celebration opens to the public at noon Saturday, November 1, and continues until midnight, with a full lineup of activities. We advise coming early, before the crowds pack the area. Caution: after sunset, the cemetery is very dark and the paths are not lit — if you stay for the night festivities, we suggest that you bring a flashlight.

General Admission: $20 per person; Children 8 years and under and seniors 65 and over free until 4 pm. We suggest buying your tickets in advance from the website, because the ticketing lines can get quite long.


Easy Metro Access

Hollywood Forever Cemetery, 6000 Santa Monica Blvd., Los Angeles, CA 90038, is easily reached by the Metro Red Line from the Hollywood/Vine Station by bus connection or walking. It is a one mile, 20 minute walk from the station. When exiting the station, go east to Gower Street, turn south and walk to Santa Monica Blvd., then go east to the entrance.


There is also a bus connection — and with the new TAP Card fares, transfers are free if made within two hours. To use the bus option, when exiting the station, walk west to Vine Street. Cross Vine to the southwest corner of Vine and Hollywood, and look for the stop for the southbound Metro Local 210 bus, which comes every 15 minutes. Take this bus to Santa Monica Blvd. and then walk east to the entrance to Hollywood Forever Cemetery (about four blocks). We found the bus to be easy, but crowded. If you have a smartphone, we suggest using the free NextBus app to help you plan.


Olvera Street Offers Nightly Fiesta

For a smaller-scale celebration, Fiestas Muertos: Dia de los Muertos, October 25 – November 2, is at Olvera Street, with daily novenarios (processions) at 7 p.m.
Olvera Street, 845 N Alameda Street, Los Angeles, CA 90012, is across from Union Station, accessed by the Metro Red/Purple and Gold Lines.

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4 Responses to Day of the Dead — Historic Dia de los Muertos — at historic Hollywood Forever Cemetery

  1. While Hollywood/Vine is the closest Metro Red Line station to the Hollywood Forever Cemetery, people who don’t want to do any walking should get off the train at the Vermont/Santa Monica station and take Metro Local 4 (every 12 minutes at this time) west for less than 10 minutes to Santa Monica Blvd and Bronson Avenue. People riding Metro Local 4 east from the Westside can get off at Santa Monica Blvd and Gower Street. The entrance to the cemetery is about a block from either Bronson or Gower. I’ve gone to this event, which is as fantastic as your photos suggest, in years past (when it cost just $10), but today I’m riding the Red Line to the free Dia de los Muertos event at Grand Park (Civic Center/Grand Park station, of course).

  2. David Lamb says:

    Great to see the Metro Duo back in business. Wonderful photos. I wish I could be there to join the fun. –David

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