KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WATE) — The annual holiday Día de los Muertos or Day of the Dead occurred earlier this week and local Hispanic and Latino community groups are holding celebratory events this weekend. Ahead of those events, here’s what you need to know about the holiday and how it seeks to celebrate loved ones in life and in death.

What is Día de los Muertos?

Día de los Muertos is an annual holiday around Nov. 1-3 that originates in Mexico and Latin America that celebrates loved ones who are no longer with us. The celebration of death dates back to pre-Hispanic Indigenous civilizations whose rituals and traditions were later adopted by the Spanish/Roman-Catholic Church. What remained central was the honoring of loved ones who have died.

Traditionally, families create “ofrendas” or altars with photos, sugar skulls and skeletal decorations, “cempasúchil” or marigold flowers and treats honoring their loved ones who have passed; trips to their gravesite to clean their headstone is also a common practice. In recent years, parades, parties and social media celebrations, as well as Hollywood films, have brought widespread attention to the holiday.

Where to celebrate Día de los Muertos in East Tennessee

First Friday

Hola Hora Latina is inviting the public to attend its First Friday opening of Mexican artist Héctor Saldivar’s exhibit featuring Day of the Dead sculptures of calaveras (skulls) and catrinas (skeletons) on Friday, Nov. 5 from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Casa HoLa inside the Emporium for the Arts on Gay Street.

“Enjoy Mr. Saldivar’s Day of the Dead exhibit, the winning altars of the UT Spanish Students’ Day of the Dead altar decorating competition, locally made pan de muerto, sugar skulls, and chicken tamales, and pick up a free educational art activity for children.”

Mr. Saldviar’s exhibit will be available at Casa HoLa throughout the month of November and online at

Zalate Taqueria

Día De Muertos at Zalate: On the Day Of The Death, we celebrate & honor our loved ones that are not with us anymore.

When: Saturday, November 6th at Zalate Taqueria, 102 Stekoia Ln. Knoxville, TN 37912

Live music starts at 5 p.m., face painting, contests, giveaways & more

“Feel free to bring in a picture of your loved one that is not with us anymore & we’ll be honored to put it up on our altar.”

Additional celebrations and fall festivals were hosted by other community groups such as Centro Hispano de East Tennessee and HOLA Lakeway just before Día de los Muertos. But more celebrations of the cultural and spiritual event are forthcoming next year.

According to Visit Knoxville, beginning in August of 2022, the McClung Museum at the University of Tennessee will host a month-long exhibit “The Spirit of Día de los Muertos” with artworks commissioned by local artists, educational activities, a parade, movie screenings, and interactive art projects.