*This is a collaborative post
Ever since I watched the beginning of Spectre I have been a little bit obsessed with 'Day of the Dead'. I would LOVE to travel to Mexico and join in the celebrations for real. I really don't see that happening anytime soon though so I was pleased to hear that NewcastleGateshead would be hosting their own celebrations at ¡Vamos! as part of the Juice Festival.
“On October 31, All Hallows Eve, the children make a children's altar to invite the angelitos (spirits of dead children) to come back for a visit. November 1 is All Saints Day, and the adult spirits will come to visit. November 2 is All Souls Day, when families go to the cemetery to decorate the graves and tombs of their relatives.
The three-day fiesta is filled with marigolds, the flowers of the dead; muertos (the bread of the dead); sugar skulls; cardboard skeletons; tissue paper decorations; fruit and nuts; incense, and other traditional foods and decorations”
— Frances Ann Day, Latina and Latino Voices in Literature
I couldn't wait to join in with some of the action! This event is super popular and you could attend a morning or afternoon session (or both I suppose if you were super keen). Tickets were £6 per person in advance or £7 on the door (although these were limited). ¡Vamos! is very easy to find on Market Street and very centrally located. We were very impressed with the venue and will definitely be keeping our eyes peeled for future events.
One of the things I loved about these celebrations was that once you'd paid your entrance fee, everything apart from food and drink was included - even this superb face painting which really got Jack and Heidi into the swing of things. There was no stopping them on the dancefloor. I love, love, loved the live DJ - my clubbing days are over so it was a rare treat for me and the music was fab. There was even a little sample of 666's D.E.V.I.L which transported me right back to IKON circa 2001. Ah the memories!
Harry is far too cool to hit the dancefloor with his mum and younger siblings and preferred to hang out at the bar drinking non-alcoholic Zombie cocktails (£2 each) with his dad.
The decorations throughout were fantastic and a lot of effort had gone into ensuring the venue really looked the part.
As always, the kids started complaining they were hungry. I swear there is no filling them at times! There was a pop up food stall provided by Mama Zen who sell 'wholesome and magically wild plant food'. Jack was tempted by the 'cookie monster' and had no clue it was filled with goodness and H & H were content with a 'beating heart cake' which was filled with beetroot and dark chocolate. I didn't get a pic but Steve split a slice of roasted pumpkin cake with a lemon and thyme dressing on the recommendation of another happy customer - omg, best cake ever! If you spot Mama Zen when you're out and about, make sure you check them out.
The pool table had been transformed into a colourful game of skittles which kept my three entertained as Steve and I polished off our cake.
There were tonnes of crafts going on (all included at no additional cost) from mask and lantern making to balloon modelling and wish writing. I think H, H and J have had their fill of organised activities this week though as they weren't really interested and just preferred to strut their stuff on the dancefloor or chill on the sofas.
We did however try our hand at creating our own prints (again no additional cost) and will say that all of the staff were so lovely - really helpful and accommodating. Jack and Heidi created their own Latin-inspired prints with ink and were really pleased with the result (I was impressed too).
At around 3pm, we were all asked to leave the dancefloor and take a seat around the perimeters and were treated to a contemporary dance and performance featuring the Day of the Dead ceremony (check out my live Facebook streams here and here if you'd like to watch for yourself).
Watching this performance was certainly a unique way to spend a Saturday afternoon. Personally, I loved it and really got a feel for what 'Day of the Dead' is all about. Heidi and Jack sat quietly throughout most of it too and were captivated.
At the end of the performance, the music intensified and there was a real party atmosphere. We were all invited to join the dancers on the dancefloor and let our hair down.
We sadly had to leave at 4pm as we had another appointment - I think there may have been a pinata after we left! Oh man!!
These two certainly received a few funny looks as we walked down Northumberland Street, one lady actually stopped us and asked us if she could pose for a photograph with them! LOL!
I really enjoyed the family Day of the Dead celebrations at ¡Vamos! and really appreciated that I didn't have to put my hand in my pocket every 5 minutes. There was a nice range of alternative activities for us to try out together and it did open our minds to other cultures. I think it is probably best pitched at children aged 3-9 as although Harry (aged 10) did enjoy it, he didn't really want to join in with anything like Heidi (7) and Jack (5) did. This could just be a personality thing though as I did see other older children joining in. There were plenty of cute toddlers dressed up and hitting the dance floor too. If you'd like to see more action from the festival, please check out my video below and if you'd like to see more videos from days out across the NE, make sure you subscribe to our channel.
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