All Souls Procession
Jump in line! Walk with us to remember and celebrate. Returning to Downtown Tucson, November 2020.
All Souls Procession Weekend
What brings around 150,000 people into the streets of downtown Tucson to celebrate loss, life and the meaning of it all? Why do people spend half a year or more creating art pieces to walk through the Procession’s route? Without corporate sponsorship or big-money donors, why do the organizers come back each year to create this colossal event again? The simple answer: There’s something magical about this event. To see how it's done, check out the All Souls Procession Weekend Guide.
The Magic of All Souls
In 1990, Tucson artist Susan Johnson, inspired by the Día de los Muertos holiday that has crossed the border from Mexico into the U.S., decided to honor her father with a performance that mixed “celebration and creativity,” as the All Souls Procession's website puts it. From there, local artists kept adding to the festivities and, piece by piece, the event became the community-built spectacle it is today.
It takes around 250 volunteers to make this happen. The urn-keeper who cleans and prepares the metal container in which thousands of participants and spectators drop their prayers and wishes for catharsis. The high schoolers who help construct wings for the Procession of Little Angels the afternoon before the main event. The “Hungry Ghosts” walk the route taking in donations to keep the event alive.
There’s no entry fee, no barrier. To be part of All Souls Procession, just show up and jump in line.
Video: All Souls Procession, downtown Tucson
Discover authentic Tucson and the freedom to be yourself. Enjoy "Día de Los Muertos – A Celebration of Life," by Tim Vanderpool, a story about a Tucson tradition with south-of-the-border roots and the cross-section of revelers it attracts during All Souls Procession every year. People show up to experience the Procession in countless ways, in street clothes or fully in costume. Faces painted or just there to witness. A pipe-and-drum band, sporting a likely unique combination of kilts and calavera face paint, performing “Amazing Grace.” A man walking down the street in a suit, a shrine contained within a backpack following him.
A group might be walking for a deceased co-worker or for an endangered animal. If you’re feeling loss, this is an opportunity to join those feeling it as well. That isn’t to say there isn’t a celebration involved as well and that’s seen best in the finale of the Procession, held on the westside of Tucson’s downtown area, next to the Mercado San Agustin and basically the spiritual home of our city. Performance art group Flam Chen light up the night sky with flames and acrobatics, with over 100 dancers, drummers and musicians filling the stage and the air above it. Then, as the contents of the urn are set ablaze, the messages and thoughts it once contained rise up as well, with a crane lifting the urn 30 feet up for all to see.
The Procession comes to an end, with hugs, tears and prayers. In a few months, the preparations will begin again to create another year of experiences that just can’t happen anywhere else but on the streets of Tucson in early November.
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