By EVPL Staff

Day of the Dead 2023 Program • Día de los Muertos 2023 Programa

Celebrate Evansville’s Día de los Muertos on Saturday, November 4, at EVPL West! Learn about this ancient celebration with performances, crafts, and displays.


We’ll have activities for all ages inside EVPL West and in the surrounding park area, including music, dancers, crafts, face painting, an art parade, food vendors, and a chance to see the incredible ofrendas created by our community to honor their loved ones.


The ofrenda is the centerpiece of any Día de los Muertos celebration. It is a decorative array of objects, thoughtfully selected and arranged to honor and evoke memories of a departed relative, friend, or public figure. Tradition holds that the ofrenda attracts and guides the spirit home, to linger once a year in the love and companionship of the living. The heart of Evansville’s Day of the Dead celebration is its ofrenda room, which this year will be downstairs at EVPL West, a reverent, magical island of calm right in the center of the party going on outside. Here the music and crowds disappear, and visitors are surrounded by ornate, glowing displays from individuals and organizations around the community.

Consider featuring some of these in your display:

  • The base of an ofrenda is often a table or a piece of furniture, stacked with an arrangement of boxes to produce levels, which are then covered with decorative cloth. In varying folk traditions, these levels can represent heaven, Earth, purgatory, or the stages a soul travels through to reach the afterlife.
  • An arch can represent the gateway between the worlds of the living and the dead.
  • Sugar skulls are meant to represent the deceased to whom the offering is dedicated. The name is often written on the forehead.
  • Pan de Muerto (“bread of the dead”) is one of the Spanish traditions, representing the Eucharist.
  • Crosses (another Spanish tradition), or other symbols of faith can be used, if appropriate.
  • Copal is a resin burned as incense since PreColumbian times, said to clean and sanctify the environment.
  • Petates, or woven mats of palm leaves, provide the spirit of the departed a place to rest.

The four elements:

  • Candles (in our case LED ones!), representing FIRE, guide the spirit home.
  • Paper (paper picado), which moves so easily in the breeze, represents AIR.
  • WATER is often provided in a glass for thirsty souls.
  • Flowers or other plants – but especially marigolds, represent the EARTH.

If you would like to create and share an ofrenda at Día de los Muertos, please reach out to dayofthedead@evpl.org with your name, when you’d like to set up your ofrenda, and if you need one of our tables or will be bringing your own.

Setup hours: 

  • Friday, November 3: 2:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Saturday, November 4: 10:00 am – 12:00 pm (setup MUST be completed by noon)

Teardown hours:

  • Saturday, November 4: 6:00 – 7:00 pm
  • Monday, November 6: 10:00 am – 6:00 pm

Event details

The fun begins at 2:00 pm at EVPL West. There will be several activities for all ages throughout the event:

  • Cut a string of decorative “papel picado” tissue banners, along with other free craft activities
  • Unleash your inner calavera with our face painting
  • Create a tissue marigold, the flower with ancient ties to the Day of the Dead
  • Press and cook your own tortilla, or froth a cup of Mexican hot chocolate
  • Admire our beautiful collection of ofrendas, or altars to the departed
  • Enjoy traditional and contemporary song and dance performances. The kids can even try on a “falda” to swish and twirl in true folklorico style!
  • Listen and learn about the cultural roots of the holiday
  • Fresh quesadillas, tacos, and other authentic Mexican food will be available for purchase
  • Decorate your own sugar skull (while supplies last)

Piñata contest winners!

Winners of the annual EVPL Piñata Contest, in which there were 52 entries, will be announced at 3:00 pm during Evansville’s Día de los Muertos. One winner will be chosen from each category, 0-12 and 13-18. Voting continues through 8:00 pm on Wednesday, November 1, and can be done in-person at EVPL Central or online.

Vote Now

Join the art parade!

Let your imagination run wild! Everything in the parade is home-made and human powered. Bolt together a couple of thrift shop bikes and make a rolling ofrenda. Build a skeletal bride and groom to pull on a wagon, or make yourself an oversized papier maché head. Just keep in mind that this isn’t Halloween; designs are meant to poke fun at death, not to glorify it. Your group is welcome to display its name for community exposure, but the focus should be on the holiday and not advertising.

A couple of things to remember:

  • “Floats” is a very loose term! Anything you can push, pull, or carry qualifies.
  • Costumes and face paint are encouraged.
  • You may choose to carry a picture of the deceased – if you wish to carry a candle, use caution.
  • Children must be accompanied by an adult.

    Thank you to our community partners for working with us to offer this event: Montessori Academy & Signature School.

    EVPL Staff

    EVPL Staff

    With 8 locations throughout Vanderburgh County, EVPL is ready to discover, explore, and connect WITH you! We encourage you to uncover new things, revisit old favorites, and to engage with us along the way.

    Early Voting @ EVPL
    Stories with Santa