This Year, Fruitvale's Annual Día de los Muertos Festival Will Focus on Boosting Local Restaurants

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A Día de los Muertos family altar display featuring a skull wearing a face mask.
This year's Día de los Muertos Festival will be a socially distanced event. (The Unity Council)

Normally one of the busiest and most lively days of the year in Oakland’s heavily Mexican and Latin American Fruitvale district, this year’s Día de los Muertos Festival will mark a partial return to the before-times celebration of this holiday honoring the dead. The jaw-droppingly athletic Aztec dancers, the sleek lowriders and the moving and intricately assembled ofrendas will all be back for this year’s festival, which takes place Oct. 31, says Itzel Diaz-Romo, the Interim Director of Development & Communications for the Unity Council, which is organizing the event. The performances and displays will just be spread out throughout the district to prevent crowds from accumulating at any one place. COVID vaccines and testing will be available on site.

The biggest difference, for food lovers, is that there won’t be any street vendors hawking tamales or pupusas this year. Instead, in an effort to support local restaurants, the week leading up to Día de los Muertos has been designated, as it was last year, as Fruitvale Restaurant Week. Details are still being finalized, but it’s likely that all participating restaurants will offer a $20 meal deal that includes a drink.

The Día de los Muertos Festival  will take place on Oct. 31 throughout the Fruitvale district. Fruitvale Restaurant Week specials will run from Oct. 24–31. Details here.