20th Anniversary of El Di De Los Muertos at Cheekwood

Popular Latin American Family Celebration Returns Nov. 2.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Cheekwood celebrates 20 years of El Día de Los Muertos, a popular Latin American family celebration with traditional music and dance performances, an international marketplace with authentic cuisine, and interactive art activities designed to appeal to all ages.

The 20th Anniversary of El Día de Los Muertos will be held at Cheekwood on Saturday, November 2. The celebration is a premier community event for Nashville’s Hispanic population and families throughout the area. Translated as “Day of the Dead,” El Día de Los Muertos is one of the most important celebrations in Mexico and Latin America. The festivals, known for their colorful decorations, energetic music, and elaborate displays, demonstrate the culture’s strong sense of love and respect for ancestors while celebrating the continuance of life.

“We’re thrilled to welcome families to this special 20th-anniversary celebration of El Día de Los Muertos,” said Nathalie Lavine, V. P. of Education and Outreach at Cheekwood. “This event has become a community favorite and we look forward to seeing new and familiar faces as we honor this significant cultural tradition.”

The event takes place from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. and includes programming for families of all cultures to learn about this noted Latin American tradition and participate in a wide range of activities conducted in both Spanish and English. The event is free to Cheekwood members and children under the age of 17. Regular gate fees apply to adults who are not-yet-members.

In celebration of the festival’s 20th year, parades are planned for 10:30 am and 2:30 pm. Community members are welcome to dress for the occasion and join the parade, which will be led by the Aztec dancers, who are festival mainstays and crowd favorites.

The Tapete Display and Competition, a 15-year tradition at the festival, will occur with 14 participating area schools. Tapetes, meaning “carpets” in Spanish, are traditionally made with colored sand and serve as a symbol of the temporary nature of life on earth. In the Latin community, annual competitions commonly take place across Mexico and other areas. Cheekwood’s, participants will use chalk, a similar temporary medium, to create the large-scale colorful murals to honor the deceased.

One of the most important aspects of El Día de Los Muertos is the creation of a memorial altar for the departed, known as an ofrenda. Across Mexico and beyond, families honor their ancestors by creating altars decorated with items that the deceased enjoyed in life. Local groups and organizations have created their own unique ofrendas which will be displayed at this year’s festival.

Other elements of the festival include:

Live Performances including Serenatta, Luna Morena, Duo Sudeste, Groupo de Baile Folclorico, San Rafael Band, Glencliff Ballet Folklorico, Rachel Rodriguez, La Mision ConArte, and Aztec Dancers.

Art projects and activities including decorating calaveras masks and sugar skulls, creating papel picado paper cut-outs, decorating barriletes and making monarch butterflies.

An open-air International Marketplace featuring food from various restaurants, including La Hacienda Bakery and Las Fajitas Restaurant, as well as food truck vendors Yayo’s O.M.G. and Two Peruvians in a Truck, among others. A group of local artists will also be on-site as marketplace vendors, including Stacy Leigh Booktique, Vera’s Innovations, Cindy David Designs and many more.

The festival will offer History, including community altars or ‘ofrendas’ created by groups such as Vanderbilt Center for Latin American Studies, Catholic Charities, Equal Chance for Education as well as many others and displayed in Massey Auditorium. There will also be a bilingual host at the Museum of Art Galleries in the Cheekwood Mansion.

A Tapete Display and Competition will be created by a variety of participating local schools, including: Baylor School, Cane Ridge High School, Centennial High School, Father Ryan, Gleason School, Glencliff High School, Harpeth Hall School, JT Moore Middle, Nolensville High School, Oakland High School, Shelbyville Central High School, South Fulton High School, St. Rose Catholic School and University School of Nashville.

For more information, visit https://cheekwood.org/calendar/el-dia-de-los-muertos/.

El Día de los Muertos is sponsored by Comcast and Dell Technologies.

About Cheekwood

Cheekwood is considered one of the finest American Country Place Era estates in the nation. Formerly the family home of Mabel and Leslie Cheek, the extraordinary 1930s estate, with its Georgian mansion and 55 acres of cultivated gardens and expansive vistas, today serves the public as a botanical garden, arboretum, and museum with historic rooms and art galleries, showcasing works from its 7,000 permanent collection as well as traveling exhibitions. The property includes 12 distinct gardens and a mile-long woodland trail featuring modern and contemporary outdoor sculpture. 

Cheekwood is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, accredited by the American Alliance of Museums, and is a USA Today Top 10 Botanical Garden. Cheekwood is located just 8 miles southwest of downtown Nashville at 1200 Forrest Park Drive. Daily hours of operation: Tuesday through Sunday 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. For further information, call 615-356-8000 or visit cheekwood.org.

For more information about Cheekwood, visit www.cheekwood.org.

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