Media Release

ARCHIVE: 2013 | 2012 | 2011 | 2010 | 2009 | 2008 | 2007 | 2006 | 2005 | 2004 | All Media Resources


Day of the Dead Festival presented by Scotiabank
Nov. 3-4, 2012
Ancient Mexican traditions return to Harbourfront Centre

TORONTO, ON (October 11, 2012)Harbourfront Centre celebrates Mexico’s annual Day of the Dead Festival (Nov. 3-4, 2012) sponsored by Scotiabank. The event is a time of return – where families come together, city dwellers return to ancestral villages and the dead visit the living. Programmed in partnership with the Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs Mexico, this FREE, two-day festival celebrates the cycle of life in both a spiritual and visual sense.

From 12-6 p.m. each day, the public is invited to a variety of daily hands-on activities, demonstrations and performances that reflect the history and traditions associated with the Day of the Dead holiday.

New this year, are special lectures and workshops led by experts in Mexican cuisine, history and visual art. The leading authority on Mexican regional cooking and ingredients, chef Diana Kennedy (known as the Julia Child of Mexican cooking), participates in an intimate and interactive conversation with local food authority Naomi Duguid; author and specialist in Mexican popular culture and history, Chloë Sayer, presents an informative talk-back session with Carlomagno Pedro Martinez; Martinez, a renowned expert on the art of ‘barro negro’ (black clay) sculptures will also hosts hands-on workshop.

Visitors can also experience authentic mariachi tunes with Viva Mexico Mariachi, watch a colourful dance performance from the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company and peruse our Mexican Craft Market where artisans working with traditional materials such as paper, clay, and sugar create images filled with broad humour and cutting satire to remind the living that the life you lead on earth garners respect or ridicule in the after-life.

This season’s programming explores The Big IDEA of “Re.” When placed in front of another word, “re” asks us to consider something again. It challenges our vantage points, makes us question the familiar and examine our assumptions. It asks us to look back to the places we’ve journeyed from. And that, for us, is one of the fundamental aims of artistic expression.

We invite to you consider (or is that reconsider?) the impact of “re” on your world. What places will you return to? What will you rediscover? Where will “re” take you?

For additional information and complete event listings, the public may visit or call the Information Hotline at 416-973-4000. Harbourfront Centre is located at 235 Queens Quay W, in the heart of Toronto’s downtown waterfront.


Harbourfront Centre is an innovative, non-profit cultural organization which provides internationally renowned programming in the arts, culture, education and recreation, all within a collection of distinctive venues on the 10-acre site it operates in the heart of Toronto's downtown waterfront.

Media Contact:
Althea Linton, 416-973-4428,
Follow me on Twitter @misslinton Follow Harbourfront Centre on Twitter @harbourfrontTO


Acoustic Guitar with Pedro Montejo
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 1:30 & 3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
The addition of the soft but rhythmic sounds of the guitar will enliven the Lakeside Terrace.

¡Dándole a la tradición! ("Giving to the tradition")
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 2 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
¡Dándole a la tradición! is a collaborative concert bringing together performers, from distinct traditions, who are engaged in a contemporary exploration of Mexican folk music including Jorge Moreno Salazar from Mexico, Café con Pan and Jorge Lopez.

Mariachi Grand Finale - Viva Mexico Mariachi
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 4:30 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Viva Mexico Mariachi has become one of the most important exponents of Mexican music and traditions in Toronto. Motivated by the desire to advance Mexico’s musical legacy beyond its geographic frontier, this authentic mariachi band will stir the audience to sing along and dance to popular mariachi songs!


Mexican Folkloric Dance Company
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 1 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
With a splash of colour, fancy footwork and keen attention to detail, the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company perform dances that embrace Mexico’s cultural diversity. This performance has been specially choreographed to highlight to the traditions of the Day of the Dead.


Mexican Food Vendor
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 12–6 p.m. (Lakeside Eats)
All weekend long, one of Toronto’s best Mexican food vendors serve up tortillas, burritos, carnitas and tamales…and that’s just a taste!


El Alma de México or The Soul of Mexico (in English)
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 4:30-6 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Acclaimed Mexican novelist Carlos Fuentes explores Mexican history by focusing on the construction of the first pyramids, the Spanish conquest, Mexico's independence and revolution, and the country's position in the world today.


Community Ofrendas (altars)
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 12–6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Mexican community and social organizations including local Mexican musician, Mexican social and Cultural Foundation` and Enlace Community Link Inc. create ofrendas that reflect the traditions and creativity of the Mexican people in Toronto. Ofrendas are altars or shrines honoring relatives, friends and notable community members that have passed on.
• ENLACE, a group of Mexican women who give direct support to farmworkers on contract from Mexico in Ontario.
• Staff of the Consulate General of Mexico in Toronto, with this year’s ofrenda dedicated to the recently deceased internationally renowned author, Carlos Fuentes.
• Two ofrendas decorated by students from two schools within the Toronto District School Board who have worked with Carlomagno during his visit to Harbourfront Centre.
• A group of local musicians, many with a Mexican background, are building an ofrenda in honour of deceased traditional Mexican musicians and their songs.
• An ofrenda built by a group of local Mexican women involved with the children’s craft workshops in Miss Lou’s Room during the weekend of Day of the Dead at Harbourfront Centre.


Day of the Dead Children’s Face Creations
Mexican Cultural and Social Foundation
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 1–5 p.m. (Miss Lou’s Room)
Makeup artists will be on-site to transform children’s faces into traditional Day of the Dead skulls (calaveras). Families can also colour drawings of “La Catrina” and make traditional orange flowers known as “flor de cempazuchitl,” which are used to decorate Day of the Dead altars.

Mexican Folk Dance Workshop
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 3 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Accompanied by live guitar music, members of the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company will engage families in learning a traditional Mexican circle dance. Everyone join in!


Creating Day of the Dead with Clay with Carlomagno Pedro Martinez
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 12:30- 5:30 (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Visiting artist, Carlomagno Pedro Martinez, is a renowned exponent of the art of ‘barro negro’ (black clay), sculptures made of earthenware clay, burnished by hand and then fired in smoke-filled pits or kilns to leave a deep black surface. Director of the Museo Estatal de Arte Popular de Oaxaca (Museum of Popular Art of Oaxaca), just outside of Oaxaca City, Carlomagno has been recognized as a master sculptor and print-maker since his early childhood. The public will have an opportunity to sit down with him and chat while he leads them toward making a unique and personal object in clay.

Chloë Sayer in conversation with Carlomagno Pedro Martinez
Saturday, Nov. 3 at 3–4 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Chloë Sayer is a specialist in Mexican popular culture. She is the author of several books including: Arts and Crafts of Mexico, Mexican Day of the Dead, Crafts of Mexico, Of Gods and Men: The Heritage of Ancient Mexico, Fiesta: Days of the Dead & Other Mexican Festivals, Textiles of Mexico and is co-author of The Skeleton at the Feast: The Day of the Dead in Mexico. She has also worked on several documentaries for BBC and Channel 4 in the UK. She has made ethnographic collections and carried out fieldwork in Mexico for the British Museum.

Diana Kennedy in Conversation with Naomi Duguid
Sunday, Nov. 4 at 3–4 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Feisty advocate and authority on Mexican regional cooking and ingredients, Diana Kennedy is a holder of the Aztec Eagle, Mexico’s highest award to a non-Mexican, winner of the James Beard Foundation Cookbook of the Year, and more. In conversation with local cookbook author, Naomi Duguid, also winner of the James Beard Foundation cookbook of the year and great admirer of the role and approach taken by Diana Kennedy during her long career researching and writing with authority about Mexico’s deep culinary traditions.


Mexican Marketplace
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 3 & 4, 12–6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Peruse and purchase a variety of crafts including Day of the Dead figurines, crafts, jewelry, Day of the Dead bread (pan de muerto) and more!

Where you are:   Home / Who We Are / Media Resources