All Souls Procession to remember the dead for 34th year in Tucson

The beloved Tucson tradition of the All Souls Procession returns for its 34th year with a weekend of art, music and honoring the dead. The events include the Procession of the Little Angels, the Dance of the Dead concert series and the main procession and ceremony.

The event has grown from a small gathering of a handful of artists and friends to a large-scale public extravaganza that attracts thousands of locals and non-residents alike. 

Each year brings a new theme, with this year’s announced as “the Engagement of Active Imagination focused on Enacted Enchantment Culminates in the Sacred Moment.”

Media director Kathleen Dreier said the theme is open to interpretation.

“It’s a thought-provoking theme and everyone should consider what it might mean to them,” Dreier said. “This is my interpretation – regardless of how the words are put together, it really is about bringing the community together in kindness and respect for one another and love of community and mutual aid and being together.”

The weekend begins with the first installment of the Dance of the Dead concert series with the Flow for the Soul with InRave at the MSA Annex. The Friday event will begin at 7 p.m. and will go until 11 p.m. Entry begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets are $12 for general admission. On 

Saturday, Nov. 4, the Procession of Little Angels will begin at 3 p.m. in Armory Park. It is a free event and is open to all ages. Children will be able to participate in crafts as well as puppetry and theater exploring grief and death through children’s eyes. After the children are done with their masks and sugar skulls, they may join their own procession at sunset. The family altars and urn will be part of the event and attendees are encouraged to place their prayers in the urn. 

Meanwhile, back in the MSA Annex, the second Dance of the Dead night will be happening. There will be yoga, a cacao ceremony and music. General admission to the second Dance of the Dead concert is $30. 

The last day is Sunday, Nov. 5 which will be the day of the main procession. Participants will gather at 5 p.m. at Speedway and Grande Avenue. They will depart at 6 p.m. and will go south on Grande to Congress Street. 

The route proceeds east on Congress and then south on Avenida del Convento to its destination in the Mercado District. There will be performances by Soriah and Flam Chen during the grand finale as well as the lighting of the urn to send the prayers into the universe. 

The last installment of the Dance of the Dead will serve as the after party in the MSA Annex with March Fourth from 9 p.m. to 11 p.m. General admission for March Fourth are $15.

The route of the main procession changed due to construction happening along the old route.

Dreier said the scale of the event leads to “tens of thousands of dollars” that go into production and she hopes people feel inspired to donate at the event to help support the creation of All Souls Procession Weekend.

“If every single person that attended donated one dollar, all the expenses would be covered and what often happens is the directors typically have ten to twenty thousand dollars left owed after the procession and they pay for it out of their own pocket,” Dreier said. “It’s a free event for the whole community. There will be buskers out. There are ample spaces to donate, there will be buckets to put money in. This is a love offering to the community that rests of the backs of hundreds of volunteers and all we ask if that people donate a little bit to carry a little bit of the burden of creating this beautiful community event every year.”

Visit Tucson will be hosting a live stream as well as interviews and films of the procession, which can be watched in the All Souls Procession Weekend website.