In Spectre, the opening scenes have James Bond chasing a bad guy through the streets of Mexico City, during a supposed parade of skeletal figures for Day of the Dead.
Until this year, there was no such parade in Mexico City, with authorties starting one in 2016 in response to the movie . But the small colonial city of Aguascalientes, in a small state of the same name is way ahead of the game…*
Despite being almost completely unknown outside Mexico, it is home to one of Mexico’s largest Day of the Dead festivals. It was begun in 1995 by the city to pay tribute to the state’s Day of the Dead traditions as well as graphic artist and native son José Guadalupe Posada, who is credited with creating “La Catrina,” now a cultural icon of Mexico.
The Festival de Calaveras (Skull Festival) is a 10-day affair with events in almost all of the city’s cultural venues with music and dance (modern and traditional), fireworks, rides, costumes, food and more. But the centerpiece of the event is a parade of skull and skeletal figures, made each year and presented on the first day with a parade called the Jolgorio de Calaveras.
Pieces in process for the 2016 event at the Casa de Artesanias of Aguascalientes.
The skeletons are made by local artisans, often sponsored by public and private organizations. They are made from all kinds of materials, from fabric to paper mache to the more modern styrofoam and plastic. Like many public celebrations in Mexico, the fiigures get larger each year, such that it is not unusual to have skeletal figures of 4 and even 5 meters in height.
The 2016 version begins on Friday, October 28, with the parade starting on that day at 8pm. After the parade, the floats and skeletal figures are on display on Calle Nieto in the city center.
Main image credit LuizaIvaz. All photos are in CC-by-SA 3.0/4.0 license
* This article has been corrected to indicate that there is now a Day of the Dead parade in Mexico City… the first on 29 October 2016.