You Can Still Celebrate Día de los Muertos and Halloween This Year—Here’s How.

a woman in Day of the Dead makeup holds a candle while posing in the dark

By Jessica Swarner

October 30, 2020

As much as we would like to put the pandemic in the past, it is still very much our reality. 

The COVID-19 pandemic has meant missing out on social holiday activities all year, especially traditional mass gatherings like festivals or trick-or-treating.  

The US Centers for Disease for Control and Prevention (CDC) has called going door-to-door for candy a “higher-risk activity.”

Other activities not recommended include traditional “trunk-or-treat” events, large indoor gatherings, crowded indoor haunted houses, hayrides with people from different households, and events outside of a person’s community. 

But with these warnings in mind, communities have come up with creative ways to try to safely celebrate Halloween and Día de los Muertos, or Day of the Dead, this fall. 

RELATED: 5 Latino-Themed Halloween Movies for a Safe Holiday at Home

Of course, the safest option is to stay at home and celebrate. Families can dress up together for Halloween, carve pumpkins, watch movies, play games, or choose other activities to mark the holiday in their own space. 

For Día de los Muertos, the CDC recommends families create home altars for loved ones, dress up together, and make traditional foods. Moderate-risk activities include having small, outdoor parades or cookouts, or visiting the graves of loved ones. 

Here are some other options for marking the holidays:

Virtual events

While Mesa and Phoenix typically hold big Diá de los Muertos festivals each year, this year the events moved online. 

Some upcoming virtual events include an art competition, a free class (that includes the history of mole!), and dance performances. 

For some more interactive activities, there are classes for making “papel picado” and sugar skulls, Mexican desserts, and traditional Mexican piñatas.

Families can also check out local parks and recreation departments for virtual events.

Drive-thru events

Events where participants stay inside their cars offer a safer option. 

For example, the city of Glendale is hosting a drive-thru event on Oct. 29 where families can view decorations and receive candy. 

More of these events are listed here

Arizonans can also go to the state fairgrounds to view a scary movie from their cars. 

Pumpkin patches

Checking out a pumpkin patch, corn maze, and other outdoor activities can be a good option if people are staying six feet apart and wearing masks. 

There are multiple farms in the Valley offering fall activities with limited attendance. 

COVID trick-or-treating

Despite CDC guidance, some Arizona neighborhoods have still decided to hold trick-or-treating. The state’s health department has issued guidelines for making it less risky. 

Recommendations include wearing cloth face masks (costume masks don’t cut it), distancing from other families, and frequently using hand sanitizer. 

Some households have devised better ways to distribute candy than to hand it over in person, like creating chutes to slide candy from a doorway to the end of a driveway. People can also create prepackaged goodies bags to leave at the end of a driveway for children to grab. 

Why Safety is Important

As much as the world would like to put the pandemic in the past, it is still very much reality. 

While Arizona did see case numbers decrease after its peak in July, the rate at which people are becoming infected is once again increasing

An Arizona State University professor has said the state is seeing a surge, with numbers similar to the state’s in early June. 

While many people can become infected and only experience mild symptoms or none at all, some can get severely sick and even die. Nearly 6,000 Arizonans have died of the virus so far. 

Those ages 65 and older, as well as people with underlying medical conditions, are at heightened risk for the disease. 


  • Jessica Swarner

    Jessica Swarner is the community editor for The Copper Courier. She is an ASU alumna and previously worked at KTAR News 92.3 FM in Phoenix.

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