Mexican Día de Muertos: A Celebration of Life

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A joyful series of events and talks exploring Mesoamerican cultures

This event will take place in the British Library Theatre. This event will not be livestreamed. Details and tickets for the gala evening event of music and literature are also available.

The Mexican Día de Muertos has grown to capture hearts and imaginations around the world, with its dazzling visuals and rich heritage. Join us for a one-day festival of events in and around the British Library, preparing the way for Day of the Dead 2021.

We begin with the creation of a Day of the Dead altar featuring some of the Library’s own iconic neighbours, followed by pop-up poetry performances, cinema, workshops, Mexican market and much more. There is live music, dance performances and discussions, with a sneak peek into the British Library’s Mesoamerican collections, leading into a celebratory evening exploring Mesoamerican voices and cultures.

The pop-up altar will illuminate the British Library’s entrance hall and act as a centrepiece for all of the day’s events. You might even recognise a few local heroes included in the radiant artwork, created by renowned artist Carmen Mariscal.

There will be plenty of activities going on around the day, including some scheduled sessions and workshops. These are drop-in sessions but we will be monitoring capacity and limiting numbers for these workshops for safety reasons so we recommend arriving at least 5 minutes before the workshop starts.

11.00 – 17.00 Day of the Dead altar by Carmen Mariscal (Main Hall)

11.00 -17.00 Sensorial ofrenda (Poets Circle)

11.00 – 17.00 Mexican short films for children (Dickens Room)

11.00 – 17.00 Mexican short films (adults) (Bronte Room)

11:00 – 12:00 – Spanish Story Time and Craft Activity with Magaly Flores (Eliot Room, Knowledge Centre)

A family-friendly session with colourful stories and handicrafts

12:30 – 13:30 - Literary Calaveritas Workshop with Mexican Poet Mabel Encinas (Eliot Room, Knowledge Centre)

Join Mabel Encinas in learning how to write a literary calavera: a playful, satirical epitaph in verse that Mexicans write for Day of the Dead festivities.

13:30 – 14:00 BL Show and Tell: Mesoamerican Treasures of the British Library  (Knowledge Centre Theatre)

A fascinating show and tell of British Library collections relating to the Mexican Día de Muertos.

13:30 – 14:30 Aztec Poetry: Xochitl Cuicatl by Elizabeth Baquedano (Poets Circle)

14.00 – 15.00 Paper Weave Workshop by Manuel Lopez (for adults only)

14:00 – 15:00 - Storytelling by Raúl Suárez (Knowledge Centre Foyer)

A Día de Muertos story-telling session for all the family

14:30 – 15:30 - Cempasúchil paper flowers workshop by Eulalia Gurza (Eliot Room, Knowledge Centre)

Create your own Día de Muertos decorations in the shape of the iconic Mexican marigold

15:00 -15:30 Poetry by Homero Aridjis read by Chloe Aridjis (Poet’s Circle)

15:00 – 16:00 - 15:00 – 16:00 - Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, Death in Pre-Hispanic Mexico, an engaging talk by prominent Mexican Archaeologist (Knowledge Centre Theatre) (Knowledge Centre Theatre)

The eminent Mexican archaeologist and founder of the Templo Mayor or Great Temple excavation project in Mexico City, will give this lecture in Spanish with English subtitles. He will explore how the inhabitants of Mesoamerica conceived death and the afterlife. Mesoamerican thought attributed great importance to duality: male-female duality, as well as life-death duality. The reverence that was felt for the deceased bears testimony to the sophistication of their culture, as well as their communion with the natural world. There will be a live Q&A session.

Professor Eduardo Matos-Moctezuma is a prominent Mexican archaeologist who has published nearly 500 works. He has held many posts in the field of Mexican archaeology, including the direction of the National Museum of Anthropology and History. Professor Matos has received many honours and awards both in Mexico and around the world, among them, the Henry B. Nicholson Medal and the creation of the Eduardo Matos Moctezuma’s Lecture Series, both at Harvard University.

16:30 – 17:30 - Chloë Sayer's book The Day of the Dead: A Visual Compendium in conversation with Adrian Locke (Knowledge Centre Theatre)

This Día de Muertos event will see Chloë Sayer in conversation about her book The Day of the Dead: A Visual Compendium.

Parade from British Library Piazza towards Ossuslton Street by Mandinga Immersive Theatre

19:00 – 21:30 - Día de Muertos on stage: Closing Gala  (Knowledge Centre Theatre)   

A two-part gala evening of exploration and celebration, featuring a dazzling array of musical and literary talents. Please note tickets will need to be booked for this session

In partnership with:

The Mexican Embassy is the diplomatic representation of Mexico in the United Kingdom. Its mission is to promote Mexico's interests in the UK through strengthen political dialogue, exchange and cooperation in various areas including, education, arts and culture, trade and investment, among other areas, and foster more connections betwen British and Mexican institutions and societies.

The UK Mexican Arts Society (UKMAS) is a non-for-profit organisation focused on fostering collaboration, knowledge exchange and interaction between British and Mexican cultural institutions, other artistic initiatives, as well as creative practitioners and the public. It was established in 2020 as an extension of the former Chalton Gallery (2015-2020).

UNAM UK, Centre for Mexican Studies was created to promote academic and cultural exchange in all areas and academic levels between the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) and different universities and higher education institutions throughout the United Kingdom. It was founded in 2015 and it is hosted by King’s College London.

If you’re attending in person, please arrive no later than 15 minutes before the start time of this event. We are committed to the safety of our event bookers. Click here to find out how we are welcoming you to the Library safely

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Room Capacities

Knowledge Centre Foyer 200
Knowledge Centre Theatre 200
Bronte Room 60
Eliot room 36
Dickens room 36
Storytelling 20


Name: Mexican Día de Muertos: A Celebration of Life
Where: Knowledge Centre
The British Library
96 Euston Road
Show Map      How to get to the Library
When: -
Enquiries: +44 (0)1937 546546