Provincetown’s 2nd Annual Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival 2017

Provincetown’s 2nd Annual Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival is a community event honoring life and death through art. Inspired by the Mexican traditions of El Día de los Muertos, the Festival includes a series of art workshops, a procession, an ofrenda exhibition, a performing arts event and a dance party.
Workshops begin mid-October. The procession, ofrenda exhibition, performing arts event and dance party all take place on November 2.
The intention of the Festival is to recognize and honor the Mexican and Mesoamerican roots of El Día de los Muertos while simultaneously creating a community event that is unique to the lived lives of Provincetown residents and other Festival participants.

It is especially important to honor the Mexican roots of the Festival in light of the current national climate of xenophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric. Honoring the Festival’s Mexican roots is an opportunity to recognize the enriching contributions of Mexicans and Mexican culture.

This year’s festival is dedicated to the “Dreamers,” the nearly 800,000 “undocumented” immigrants who arrived in America as children and whose lives are being thrown into turmoil and fear as the White House threatens to end DACA, the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals which protects Dreamers from deportation and allows them to legally work and study in America. Nearly 80% of DACA recipients are originally from Mexico.

For the Provincetown community, the Festival provides an opportunity to come together to celebrate the lives and honor the deaths of those we love. In addition to our own experiences of personal loss, to live in Provincetown is to share a communal history and experience of life and death.

When someone in Provincetown dies, we all mourn. Whether a fisherman is lost at sea, an AIDS or cancer patient dies, a teenager’s life is cut short by addiction, or any resident – from artist to community worker to retired grandmother – dies of natural causes, we all feel the loss.

The Festival provides us with an artistic avenue to express our grief while simultaneously celebrating life and honoring death.
The Provincetown Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival is a volunteer-run, not-for-profit community event committed to making the Festival accessible to all regardless of economic circumstances.
Various Dates & Venues  in October
Printmaking: Literary Calaveras & Broadsides with Vicky Tomakyo & Elizabeth Bradfield

October 22 & 29, 1:00-4:00pm, The Fine Arts Work Center
Cost: suggested donation $10-$20 per class, plus $5 materials fee

Mask Making with Gail Morrison
October 24 & 26, 6:00-9:00pm, The Fine Arts Work Center
Cost: suggested donation $10-$20 per class, plus $5 materials fee
Making an Ofrenda with Dawn Walsh
October 25, 6:00-9:00pm, The Provincetown Theater
Cost: suggested donation $10
Skeleton Puppet Making  with Amy Kandall
October 27, 5:00-7:00pm, October 28 & 29, 12:00-2:00pm, Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill
Cost: suggested donation $10-$20 per class, plus $5 materials fee
Sugar Skull Decorating with Naya Bricher
     October 28, 4:00-6:00pm, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House
Cost: suggested donation $10
Mexican Tin Art with Jesse Mia Horowitz & Neile Margret Horowitz
October 30, 6:00-9:00pm, The Provincetown Theater
Cost: suggested donation $10-$20, plus $5 materials fee
The Art of Dying: Advance Directives with Anne Baer Clark
November 1, 4:00-6:00pm, Unitarian Universalist Meeting House
Cost: suggested donation $10
Full workshop descriptions available at
All workshops free for those 18 years of age and younger and for anyone of Mexican heritage

To register for a workshop, email

Thursday, November 2, 5:30pm (free face painting & festivities begin at 4:30pm)
Route: The Harbor Hotel to the Provincetown Theater
The Procession, designed to remember and honor the dead through artistic expressions, is an integral part of Provincetown’s Day of the Dead Festival. At the heart of the Procession is a belief in the power of creativity to help grieve the loss of loved ones – whether friend, family member, partner, spouse, co-worker, animal companion or cultural hero.In Mexico, El Día de los Muertos processions include many art forms, such as face-painting, wearing a mask and/or costume, carrying skeleton puppets, playing instruments, singing, dancing and carrying signs, candles or photos of loved ones. Provincetown’s Procession will include all these traditional elements and more.
All art forms welcome and encouraged!
The Procession is free and all are welcome. No registration needed – but arrive early for free face-painting!
The Procession will start promptly at 5:30pm on Thursday, November 2. Face-painting, stilt-walking, drumming and other festivities begin at 4:30pm. The Procession will begin at The Harbor Hotel, travel west on Commercial Street, turn onto Hancock Street and end at The Provincetown Theater.
Once at the Theater, come inside to view the Ofrenda Exhibition and feed your soul.
Cash bar and delicious tacos for sale from Provincetown’s own Taqueria.
Thursday, November 2, 6:00-7:00pm, The Provincetown Theater
An ofrenda (an “offering” in Spanish) is created to honor a deceased loved one (human or animal) and to welcome their spirit back for a visit. A significant part of El Día de los Muertos celebrations, family members in Mexico work together to create an ofrenda in the home. Items typically displayed on an ofrenda include photos, candles, incense, marigold flowers, pan de muerto, toiletries, sugar skulls, fresh fruit, personal items and mementos of the deceased and favorite foods and drinks of the deceased – all with the intention of encouraging spirits to return home for a visit.
In addition to home ofrendas, it is also common in Mexico to create elaborate ofrendas in public spaces, such as town plazas, city halls, museums, schools and shop windows. Like home ofrendas, public ofrendas can honor personal friends or family members. Additionally, public ofrendas often pay homage to prominent community members, important people in history or people associated with significant cultural or political events or movements.
In the tradition of the public ofrenda, all are invited to contribute to Provincetown’s Day of the Dead Ofrenda Exhibition. The Ofrenda Exhibition is free and open to all. If you would like to create an ofrenda, please email

During the Exhibition there will be a cash bar and delicious tacos for sale from Provincetown’s own Taqueria.

Thursday, November 2, 7:00-8:30pm, The Provincetown Theater

Join us for a spectacular program of music, dance, song, spoken word and performance art as we celebrate life and honor death in all its forms and manifestations.

We are thrilled to announce this year’s featured performance artist Pat Oleszko! Following in the traditions of El Día de los Muertos, Oleszko is sure to engage humor and prompt us all, both dead and alive, to laugh a’loud. Oleszko’s work includes elaborate costumes, props and inflatables all incorporated into solo performantz. From the personal to the political, her work is an exorcise thru humor. Oleszko is a much awarded artist having received 4 NEA grants, 4 NYFA’s, the Rome Prize, a Guggenheim, the DAAD (Berlin) and a Bessie for Sustained Achievement. Oleszko has taught at The Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown and we are fortunate beyond the beyond to have her back in town for our Dead of the Dead Performing Arts Festival!
You don’t want to miss this performance. Seriously.
The program also includes not-to-be-missed performances by Outercape artists: Paula Erickson, Roxanne Layton, Luke Lryjma, Sophia Starmack, Provincetown & Truro Students, Wave & Wisdom of the Masks

Cost: suggested donation $10-$20 at the door

Thursday, November 2, 8:30-11:00pm, The Provincetown Theater

What better way to conclude Provincetown’s 2nd Annual Day of the Dead Performing Arts Festival than with a dance party! Call in the dead and shake your calaca with your loved ones to the festive and always fun music of DJ Emerson and White Animal Sound.
DJ Emerson has traveled extensively throughout Mexico and has DJed sunny jams on Mexico’s Pacific Coast. This is a dance party you don’t want to miss – just ask the dead.
Cost: Free 
Dawn Walsh, Festival Director

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *