Festival of the Dead

The Missoula Festival of the Dead is “an all-inclusive, annual multicultural event that honors life and death through community involvement in the arts.”

The Missoula Festival of the Dead was founded by artists Bev Glueckert and Mike DeMeng in 1993. They were interested in integrating art into the community and were inspired by the traditions of the Mexican holiday, El Dia de los Muertos. Their vision to create a multicultural event that would allow Missoulians to explore and express issues of life and death has resulted in a festival that is uniquely Missoula. Join us in celebrating life and working through death with self-expression. Only through art can we truly appreciate the absence of life.

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*All Classes and events on this list are free and open to the public. All ZACC workshops (except sugar skulls) require advance registration so we can prepare adequately. To register, please call the ZACC at 406-549-7555.

Saturday, September 30, 2017 - 9:00am
Inspired by the common experience of death and community need for expressive arts surrounding mortality, the Festival includes a month of arts workshops, events, and performances, culminating in the annual Missoula Festival of the Dead processional down Higgins Avenue to Caras Park. The overarching theme for our 25th anniversary is “Inheritance: Gifts from the Dead,” to reflect the importance of those who have gone before us in shaping our lives.

Sunday, October 1, 2017 - 7:00pm
Please bring small shrines, memorials, or art pieces, as well as poems or short stories to share. We will illuminate the shrine pieces and celebrate life and death.

Monday, October 2, 2017 - 6:00pm
This workshop asks participants to explore their expectations, hopes, and fears around how they will die, and reach toward imagining a "good death" for themselves.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017 - 6:30pm
The Sea Inside is the life story of Spaniard Ramón Sampedro, who fought a 30-year campaign to win the right to end his life with dignity.

Sunday, October 8, 2017 - 6:00pm
Mourning jewelry is an elegant and thoughtful way to memorialize a loved one. We will be constructing a necklace made up of a 1 inch round pendant, hammered metal components, beads, and string.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017 - 6:00pm
As a genre of writing that compresses an autobiography into short space, obituaries compel the writer to pay close attention to the use of salient incidents and grounding principles in each person's life.

Thursday, October 12, 2017 - 6:00pm
As a genre of writing that compresses an autobiography into short space, obituaries compel the writer to pay close attention to the use of salient incidents and grounding principles in each person's life.

Friday, October 13, 2017 - 5:30pm
Join us in celebrating life and working through death with self-expression by viewing how this year's dozens of Montana artists interpreted the theme “Inheritance: Gifts from the Dead”.

Saturday, October 14, 2017 - 12:00pm
In this three hour workshop the general public is invited to carve a large scale block print to run through the steamroller printing press at The University of Montana the following week.

Monday, October 16, 2017 - 6:00pm
This workshop asks participants to explore their expectations, hopes, and fears around how they will die, and reach toward imagining a "good death" for themselves.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 3:00pm
Sugar skulls represented a departed soul and they were decorated in likeness with the name written on the forehead and was placed on the home of friends or gravestone to honor the return of a particular spirit.

Wednesday, October 18, 2017 - 6:00pm
Come make large-scale monotypes that can be carried in the procession for the upcoming 25th anniversary of the Missoula Festival of the Dead.

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 10:00am
Come and join university students, artists from the community, and students from neighboring schools as they create works and print large scale 4' x 8' woodcut prints, which will be featured in the Festival of the Dead parade.

Thursday, October 19, 2017 - 6:00pm
Honor your lost loved ones by building a unique and artful sacred space in their honor.

Sunday, October 22, 2017 - 6:00pm
Join journal-maker Amber Whitenburg as she instructs on how to make a personalized journal perfect for processing your most inner thoughts.

Tuesday, October 24, 2017 - 6:00pm
In this two-part workshop you will design, create, and decorate your own unique and perfect urn.

Wednesday, October 25, 2017 - 6:30pm
The film Harold and Maude is the story of an emotional and romantic bond between a death-obsessed young man from a wealthy family and a devil-may-care bohemian octogenarian.

Sunday, October 29, 2017 - 6:00pm
Come hear readings from our series of public and private community workshops on death. The central premise of these workshops is that shaping a written form—whether it be a poem; a story of personal experience; an obituary, or a fictional story that expresses the hopes and aspirations of a “good death”—provides a therapeutic benefit both to the person writing it, and those reading it and sharing their experiences. Come listen and enjoy free appetizers and a cash bar at Burns Street Bistro

Wednesday, November 1, 2017 - 6:30pm
Eves of the Dead Poets- join a group of notable local poets for an evening of readings about topics of life and death. Poets include Sheryl Noethe, Zan Bockes, Jack Schifflet, Jason Theroux, and more.

Thursday, November 2, 2017 - 6:00pm
The Missoula Festival of the Dead event culminates in a processional, which will begin at the XXXs and move down Higgins Avenue to Caras Park. Come walk or watch to reflect the importance of those who have gone before us in shaping our lives.