Mexico City: Politics, Culture and Day of the Dead

Join us in one of the world’s most dynamic places, Mexico City. We’ll visit during the annual Day of the Dead festivities – a magical time of incredible sites, sounds and special events surrounding this colorful and moving Mexican tradition. Pre-tour (Oct 26 -29) join an optional extension to Oaxaca.

October 29 – November 3, 2024 (Oaxaca ext. Oct 26 – 29)
October 29


Day of the Dead celebrations in Mexico City

  • Depart on independent flights to Mexico City. Upon arrival independent transfers to the Sheraton Mexico City Maria Isabel Hotel, located in the heart of the exclusive Paseo de la Reforma (Executive floor rooms),
  • Late this afternoon attend an introductory lecture by Rodrigo Salas. Rodrigo graduated from the National School of Anthropology and will be your guide in Mexico City. 
  • Enjoy a short stroll on Paseo de la Reforma to admire the many alebrijes monumentales which are a part of the Day of the Dead celebrations. Alebrijes are whimsical carvings depicting animals, people, objects, and imaginary creatures painted with intense colors and intricate patterns. Although these distinctive cultural artifacts are often assumed to represent a long established tradition of Mexican folk art, they only began to appear in the 1940s. 
  • Gather for a welcome dinner at Restaurante Sonia, located just off Paseo de la Reforma in the heart of the Juárez neighborhood. The cuisine is inspired by the flavors of Mexico and memories of family meals. 

October 30


Chapultepec Castle and Park, Mexico City

  • The city will be bustling with Day of the Dead celebrations, and transformed by hundreds of colorful alebrijes. Everywhere you will see brilliant displays of orange and gold marigolds covering building facades and entryways, and enormous ofrendas (remembrance altars) erected in restaurants, businesses, and private homes honoring departed loved ones and celebrating their lives.  Families stroll together on the streets, their faces playfully painted with catrina (skeletons), eating pan de muerto and enjoying dozens of parades and concerts throughout the weeklong celebrations. It’s an amazing and unique experience – and a cherished holiday embraced with joy by almost everyone in Mexico!
  • Depart the hotel to drive to the Museo de Arte Popular for a guided tour led by Fernanda Yáñez. This folk-art museum is a wonderful space to get acquainted with the diversity of Mexican craftsmanship. To celebrate Day of the Dead, the museum usually has a special exhibit of brilliant alebrijes and other traditional Day of the Dead art.
  • Continue on to Coyoacán. Cobblestoned and plant-filled, the main plaza is divided in halves, called Jardín Centenario and Jardín Hidalgo. They form a typical colonial Mexican town square, complete with benches for people-watching, gazebos for music and vendors selling balloons, toys, and traditional sweets.
  • Enjoy a lovely lunch outside at Corazon de Maguey, which overlooks the main plaza.
  • After lunch visit the home where Leon Trotsky livedand where he was killed wih an ice-pick in 1940. The house has been preserved in detail: Trotsky’s bathrobe still hangs on the hook where he left it. Learn about the museum’s non-profit arm, which provides assistance to those who, like its original owner, are seeking political asylum in Mexico.
  • Continue on to Casa Pedregal. Designed by Luis Barragán, this is one of the greatest Modernist masterpieces of Mexico, this house served as the canvas for an ambitious modernist urbanization project, in which Barragán and his contemporaries sought to develop the area while preserving the integrity of its unique ecosystem.
  • Enjoy dinner this evening in the city's historical core at Azulilisimo. Chef Ricardo Muñoz Zurita has dedicated his life to Mexican food and is one of the country's most well-regarded chefs.

October 31


Zocolo, Mexico City

  • Meet with Lynda Martinez del Campo, a cultural historian, writer and university professor who will talk about Mexican Muralism, a movement beginning in the early 1920s when the Mexican government commissioned artists to make art that would educate the mostly illiterate population about the country’s history and present a powerful vision of its future. The movement followed the Mexican Revolution. Inspired by the idealism of the Revolution, artists created epic, politically charged public murals that stressed Mexico’s pre-colonial history and culture and that depicted peasants, workers, and people of mixed Indian-European heritage as the heroes who would forge its future. José Clemente Orozco, Diego Rivera and David Alfaro Siqueiros were considered the leaders of Mexican Muralism. 
  • Continue on to the Museo Nacional de Antropologia. Situated within the lush surroundings of Bosque de Chapultepec, the museum has a massive Mesoamerican artifact collection and today we will concentrate on the Aztec and Mayan halls, which contain world-famous pieces from Mexico's pre-Hispanic period.
  • Enjoy lunch at a local restuarant.
  • After lunch visit Teotihuacán, a large and majestic archaeological site located about 25 miles north of Mexico City. It is famous for its large pyramids dedicated to the sun and the moon, but the site also contains beautiful murals and carvings and several museums through which you can explore the city's fascinating history. This is one of the largest and most important archaeological sites in Mexico.
  • Return to the hotel for an evening at leisure.


November 1


Diego Rivera murals, Dept of Education, Mexico City

  • Today is the main celebration of Day of the Dead –known locally as Día de los Muertos.  This ancient tradition blends Catholic rituals with the pre-Hispanic belief that the dead return once a year from the underworld. It is celebrated throughout Mexico as a way of welcoming those who are no longer with us. In 2008, the holiday was added to UNESCO’s list of Intangible Cultural Heritage as “a defining aspect of Mexican culture.” During this time the dead come closer to be with those of us who are living. Families build private altars, called ofrendas, to honor the deceased, using skulls, photographs, marigold flowers, and the favorite foods and drinks of the deceased. The bright color and strong scent of the marigolds are used to attract the souls of the dead and guide them from the cemetery to their family homes.
  • This morning we have arranged a panel discussion focusing on Andrés Manuel López Obrador (AMLO) which will be moderated by Liliana Frankel, a reporter and translator.
  • In 2018, the first leftist president in Mexico’s modern history took office. The victory of Andrés Manuel López Obrador, commonly referred to as AMLO in Mexico, swept aside a long-standing political establishment in a society where most politicians are seen as corrupt and detached from the reality of ordinary citizens. Also meeting with us will be Nicolás Medina Mora, a writer and journalist, and Estefanía Veloz, a lawyer and political analyst to review the successes and problems facing the country.
  • Continue on to the offices of Miguel Agustin Pro Juarez Centre for Human Rights (Centro Prodh), a non-profit civil association working to promote structural changes in order to achieve human rights in Mexico. Since 1988 they have been working with excluded, vulnerable, and disenfranchised groups, including indigenous people, women, migrants, and victims of social repression. The presentation will focus on human rights in Mexico, emphasizing its relation to U.S. policy.
  • Enjoy lunch at the simple, but wonderful, Martina Fonda Fina. This traditional fonda feels like visiting a grandmother's home. 
  • After lunch enjoy a private tour of the birthplace and final residence of Frida Kahlo, now known as the Museo Casa Azul. Preserved in the home are the personal objects that reveal the private universe of Latin America's most celebrated woman artist. 
  • Close to Casa Azul is the neighborhood of Santo Domingo where we will head to Huaraches Lety, a very simple family-run restaurant owned by Lety. After a refreshment meet the family and learn about the altar they are preparing.
  • Learn more about a community project in Santo Domingo, which provides educational and job opportunities to locals youths.
  • Enjoy dinner here and then, accompanied by Lety, visit the Xochimilco Cemetery to be in heart of the Day of the Dead celebrations and see how the holiday is honored and celebrated.
  • Return back to the hotel late this evening.

November 2


Belle Artes, Mexico City tour   

  • Depart for city’s historical core where we will enjoy a walking tour of the city’s foundations and colonial past. See the exterior of Templo Mayor, an ancient Aztec site that was believe to be, literally, the center of the universe. Stop at the Plaza de la Constitución, also known as Zocalo. This square was the center of Tenochtitlan before the arrival of the Spanish conquerors, and now is one of the world’s largest city squares. Today the enormous plaza takes on an even greater festive with enormous altars honoring the dead. Right on the square is the Catedral Metropolitana, the first and largest cathedral in the Americas.
  • If time permits, there will be a quick visit to the Palacio de Bellas Artes. Construction of this iconic building began in 1905 by Italian architect Adamo Boari and was completed after the Mexican Revolution by architect Fredrico Mariscal utilizing the more modern art deco style which is still prominent today.
  • Visit the Museo Mural, which is home to one of Diego Rivera's most famous works - Sueño de una tarde domincal en la Alameda Central (Dream of a Sunday Afternoon in the Alameda Central). This 45-foot long mural was painted in 1947. Rivera imagined many of the figures who walked in the city from colonial times onward, among them Hernán Cortés, Benito Juárez, Porfirio Díaz and Francisco Madero. All are grouped around a catrina (skeleton in pre-revolutionary women's garb).  Rivera himself, as a pug-faced child, and Frida Kahlo, stand beside the skeleton. 
  • Enjoy time at leisure before a farewell dinner this evening at Nueve Nueve.

November 3: Return Home


Depart for independent flights home. 

October 26: Optional Pre-tour Extension to Oaxaca


Food in Mexico City

  • Arrive in Oaxaca, a vibrant colonial city and UNESCO World Heritage Site with some of the richest and strongest traditions in Mexico.
  • Make your own way to the Parador San Miguel, a charming hotel located a few minutes away from the city's main square, the Zócalo. Traffic-free, shaded by tall tress and surrounded by elegant portales (arcades), the Zócalo is the perfect place to start soaking up the Oaxacan atmosphere.
  • Enjoy a welcome dinner this evening at a local restaurant withe your fellow travelers. 

October 27: Optional Pre-tour Extension to Oaxaca


  • This morning enjoy a walking tour of Oaxaca. Founded by the Aztecs, Oaxaca became a Spanish outpost and remains a complex but intensely attractive city whose majestic churches and refined plazas have deservedly earned it a UNESCO World Heritage badge. Flowing through handsome yet tranquil streets. life pulses with an unadulterated regional flavor.  
  • We will begin at the church of Santo Domingo de Guzmán, with its swirl of gold gilt interior and priceless artifacts. Walk down Alcalá and stop in at two markets to try tejate, a ceremonial drink hailing from the Sierra Norte region of Oaxaca. Continue on to the San Pablo cultural center. Located in an ex-16th Century Dominican Convent, the Center actively promotes the culture of Oaxaca through a wide range of concerts, lectures, workshops and other events.
  • Lunch at Itanoní Antojeria y Tortilleria. Though humble in appearance, what is going on behind the scenes is truly impressive, prompting no less than Alice Waters to declare it one of her favorite restaurants in the city. 
  • This afternoon head to the village of Teotitlan del Valle, to visit the Vida Nueva Women’s Weaving Cooperative. Twenty-five years ago, this cooperative was founded by six single women from the same extended family group, three of whom were sisters. The Cooperative transformed their village and helped pass on traditional weaving techniques while providing local women with much needed economic independence. You will be inspired by their story!
  • On the way back to Oaxaca, we will stop at a mezcal distillery and learn about mezcal production.
  • This evening enjoy dinner at leisure. 

October 28: Optional Pre-tour Oaxaca Extension


  • Drive to the home of Carlomagno Pedro Martinez located in the village of just outside of San Bartolo Coyotepec. Using a deposit of nearby clay, the Zapotec artisans of the region extract the raw materials of their craft. They have worked with this burnished clay pottery here for more than 300 years. Enjoy a chance to watch Carlomagno working with the clay.
  • Also visit the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular Oaxaca (MEAPO), which exhibits crafts from all of Oaxaca’s 8 regions with a focus on the signature black pottery. Carlomagno Pedro is the museum’s director and his team at MEAPO have been major collaborators with Friends of Oaxacan Art (FOFA).
  • Enjoy a local lunch at Restaurante Azucena located in San Martín Tilcajete.
  • Continue on to a workshop near San Martín Tilcajete, where legions of artisans carved, whittled and painted wooden alebrijes. These real and mythical animal figures represent spirits in Zapotec culture.
  • Heading north towards Oaxaca we will take a slight detour to visit the Convento de Cuilapam where  revolutionary Mexican independence leader General Vincente Guerrero was shot dead by a firing squad in 1831. The roofless convent is set in large peaceful grounds and houses a number of fresco paintings dating from the 16th century.
  • Arrive back in Oaxaca mid-afternoon and enjoy some free time before dinner this evening at a local restaurant.

October 29: Optional Pre-tour Oaxaca Extension


  • This morning drive to Monte Albán, one of the most important archaeological zones in Mesoamerica and UNESCO World Heritage Site.
  • After lunch take a mid-afternoon flight to Mexico City to join the group for the main program. 

Trip Price

Per person double occupancy: $4,520 Main Program / $1,750 Oaxaca Extension

Single supplement: $980 Main Program / $660 Oaxaca Extension


Main tour and extension

  • Accommodation, based on double occupancy, in hotels as listed
  • Meals as listed in the itinerary with bottled water or house non-alcoholic drink at lunch and dinner
  • Bottled water on the bus
  • All sightseeing and excursions as listed with all entrance fees in a private air-conditioned bus
  • All private events and speakers as listed
  • Services of an English-speaking local guide/tour manager who will travel with the group through the program
  • All gratuities
  • Welcome and farewell receptions

Not Included

Main tour and extension

  • Airfare to/from Mexico 
  • One-way group air from Oaxaca to Mexico City ($280 - booked by tour operator for those on extension)
  • Airport transfers (except for airport transfer in Oaxaca for Mexico City group flight)
  • Luggage charges
  • Drinks at included lunches and dinners, except for welcome and farewell receptions
  • Passport fees
  • Porterage
  • Travel insurance
  • Items of a purely personal nature
  • Any item not listed


Scheduled events, speakers and their timing are subject to change based on availability. 


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