Photo by Steven Jay

It’s set to be a spooky weekend with Halloween on Saturday and Día de Los Muertos starting on Sunday, and though some traditions are not possible this year there are still many ways to safely celebrate in Santa Monica.

This year’s biggest change in festivities will be the lack of trick-or-treating due to the health risks posed by sharing food and coming in close contact with others. As a potential replacement activity, the City has organized a Spooky Scavenger Hunt where families can dress up and track down different spooky items around their neighborhood for points. Drive-by car parades and socially distanced touring of decorated houses are also encouraged.

“However you choose to celebrate fall, it is important to keep you and your family’s health top of mind,” said Santa Monica’s Emergency Operations Center Director, Lindsay Call. “Even when outdoors, remember to wear your face covering, keep outdoor gatherings small and limited to three households, and physically distance when around non-household members.”

For more festive activities, people can head over to Montana Ave., which has come up with several fun alternatives to its traditional Halloween Hop. Store windows have been decorated with fall artwork created by local students. There are also hay bales and corn stalks set up for photo-ops on several street corners.

“It was a great idea, because kids can dress up in their costumes and parents can take pictures, but you are not in a crowd. It gives kids a chance to participate so they can feel like Halloween is still happening,” said Jane Walker, owner of Texture and member of Montana BID. “I’ve seen a bunch of people sitting there with their kids, taking pictures, and having coffee. It’s really cute!”

Montana Ave. is also hosting a scarecrow competition where families are challenged to build their best scarecrow and submit a picture to or share using #montanaavesm for a chance of winning a gift from a Montana eatery or shop. People who share their hay bale pictures with #montanaavesm also have a chance to win a gift.

For more festive fun, Santa Monicans can head down to the pier for a Día de Los Muertos art installation and a Ferris wheel light display. Every night until Nov 2. Pan Pacific Park will display a 90-foot tall, high-flying ghost and sugar skull on its world-famous Ferris wheel along with a not-too-scary smiling vampire and grinning jack-o-lantern.

The Pier Corporation in collaboration with Downtown Santa Monica has launched a public art installation on Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier designed by Los Angeles-based artist Ricardo Soltero. His giant sculptures of La Catrina, Mexico’s Dame of Death, will be on display from Saturday Oct. 1 through Monday Oct. 2.

The brightly painted paper mache sculptures are up to 14 feet high and are inspired by Day of the Dead traditions, Mexican clothing and embroidery. Soltero is from Nayarit, Mexico, and is the director of America’s largest Day of the Dead celebration which takes place annually at the Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

The City has also organized a virtual Día de los Muertos celebration on Nov. 1 over Zoom, which will include a presentation on the day’s history, traditional music, altars created by local community members, and a workshop on making a paper flower for your own altar.

For links related to these activities see: