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Day of the Dead Festival presented by Scotiabank
Nov. 5 & 6, 2011!

Discover ancient Mexican traditions at Harbourfront Centre

TORONTO, ON (Oct.13, 2011) – Discover ancient Mexican traditions and celebrate the lives of the departed at Harbourfront Centre’s annual Day of the Dead Festival (Nov. 5 & 6, 2011). Produced in partnership with Scotiabank and the Consulate General of Mexico, this FREE, two-day festival explores the vibrant cultural traditions, history and sacred elements of this popular Mexican holiday with an array of family-oriented activities.

From 12-6 p.m. each day, the public are 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. Visitors can experience authentic mariachi tunes with Viva Mexico Mariachi, partake in delicious food demos with Chef Luis Valenzuela and pastry Chef Elizabeth Rumebe, witness a colourful dance performance from the Mexican Folkloric Dance Company and peruse our Mexican Craft Market for Day of the Dead figurines, jewellery, sugar skulls, Day of the Dead bread (pan de muerto) and more!

A special film showcase will be presented to celebrate one of the world’s greatest comedians, Cantinflas, on the 100th anniversary of his birth. In the spirit of the Day of the Dead festival, Harbourfront Centre aims to honour his memory with a screening of “El Padrecito” (“The Little Priest”) – one of his best-loved films.
Harbourfront Centre will also host a number of beautiful ofrendas (altars), built by local community groups. These special altars are built to honour the departed by offering to them favorite treats and gifts from their past lives. Kids can also join in the fun by making their own crafts to decorate ofrendas.

What is the Day of the Dead?:
Observed for centuries, the Day of the Dead can be traced back to Mesoamerican traditions and beliefs that see death as a continuation of life. Traditionally, Latin-American families celebrate the lives of ancestors and the departed by decorating altars with flowers, sugar skulls, pan de muerto and ofrendas.

The origins of this celebration can be traced back at least 3,000 years among Mexico’s pre-Hispanic indigenous cultures. Although its roots are pre-Colombian, the holiday continues to be observed as one of the most important holidays in Mexico as well as other Central and South American countries.

This season’s programming explores The Big IDEA of “Perspective.” Like a shaft of light into a room, artists use perspective as a means to illuminate. Often, artists share their personal perspectives to bring a new twist to a familiar topic. Other times, artists share differing perspectives to illustrate conflict and resolution. In either instance, the end goal is for you to question how the world appears from your vantage point.

This fall and winter, Harbourfront Centre presents programming that asks: Where do you find your perspective?

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.


Mariachi Grand Finale - Viva Mexico Mariachi
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 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!

QuiQue Escamilla
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 2:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
QuiQue Escamilla is a multi-instrumentalist and singer-songwriter based in Toronto. Despite living far from Mexico, he still remains attached to his musical roots through his unique fusion of Latin-American beats such as bolero, chachacha, huapango, cumbia combined with spices of rock, reggae, pop and jazz.

Jaime Elizondo
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 3 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
Jaime Elizondo is a well-known singer in Toronto’s Spanish community. At the Day of the Dead festival, Elizondo offers new and original material that embodies the essence of the Mexican soul with a fusion of Spanish classic and pop-rock ballads.


Mexican Folkloric Dance Company
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 1 p.m. (Brigantine Room)
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 Vendors
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 12–6 p.m.(West Arcade)
All weekend long, some of Toronto’s best Mexican food vendors serve up tortillas, burritos, carnitas and tamales…and that’s just a taste!

Food Demo with Chef Luis Valenzuela
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 1 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
Luis Valenzuela was born in Guadalajara, Mexico. He moved to Canada in 2001, beginning his career at North 44 restaurant under renowned Chef Mark McEwan and executive Chef Brook McDougall. Today, Valenzuela is one of the youngest and most accomplished chefs in the city, running the kitchen of Torito Tapas Bar in Kensington Market.

Food Demo with Elizabeth Rumebe
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 4:30 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace)
By staying true to her Mexican roots, Chef Elizabeth Rumebe (Amaranto Creations) has introduced her traditional pastries to the Canadian market. At the Day of the Dead festival she shares her secrets for creating delicious pan de muerto!


100 years of Cantinflas
“El Padrecito” (“The Little Priest”), presented in Spanish with English subtitles
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 1:30 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
Celebrate the memory of one of the world’s greatest comedians, Cantinflas (Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes, 1911-1993), at a screening of one of his best-loved films. In “El Padrecito,” the Mexican film legend stars as an unconventional priest who's assigned to a new position in a small town. The townspeople are skeptical of the new arrival and the priest's own unconventional ways do little to boost his popularity.

Fortino Mario Alfonso Moreno Reyes is the Mexican comedian and stage/film actor known professionally as Cantinflas. His character (the impoverished campesinos or a peasant of pelado origin) came to be associated with the national identity of Mexico, and allowed Cantinflas to establish a long, successful film career. Reyes has been referred to as the "Charlie Chaplin of Mexico."


Community Ofrendas (altars)
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 12–6 p.m. (Lakeside Terrace, Marilyn Brewer Community Space, West Arcade)
Mexican community and social organizations including EXATEC,Mexico abroad and Enlace Community Link Inc. create ofrendas that reflect the traditions and creativity of the Mexican people in Toronto. Ofrendas are altars or shrines that usually contain a cross, pictures or a statue of the Virgin Mary, candles, as well as pictures of relatives that have passed on.


Mexican Cultural and Social Foundation
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 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.


Maya: Secrets of an Ancient World
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 3 p.m. (Studio Theatre)
In a preview of the Royal Ontario Museum’s exhibition highlighting the ancient Mesoamerican civilization’s Classic Period (250 to 900 AD) and its notable achievements, Leticia Perez, Deputy Director of International Exhibitions at the National Institute of Anthropology and History and Martha Cuevas, co-curator of “Maya:The Secrets of an Ancient World” take you inside the world of the Maya while curating the exhibit.


Mexican Marketplace
Saturday & Sunday, Nov. 5 & 6, 12–6 p.m. (Marilyn Brewer Community Space)
Come view and purchase a variety of crafts including Day of the Dead figurines, crafts, jewelry, sugar skulls, Day of the Dead bread (pan de muerto) and more!


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

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