What to Know About Nicaragua's Day of the Dead

Cemetery in Jinotega, Nicaragua
Cemetery in Jinotega, Nicaragua | © ENICOK / Flickr
Jack Guy

Day of the Dead celebrations take place in many Latin American countries, and they each have their own particular twist. When many people think of Day of the Dead, it’s the Mexican celebrations that spring to mind, with the sugar skulls and the face paint. In Nicaragua, things are a little different.

People holding flowers at the General Cemetery in Managua

Looking after the family grave

Day of the Dead is naturally still a time to remember deceased loved ones, but it takes a different form in Nicaragua. Most of the activity here centres on the local cemetery, which buzzes with people buying flowers, food and drink, both inside and outside the cemetery. One of the main things that people do is perform some maintenance on the family tomb, whether that means cleaning it or repainting it. Weeds are removed, dust from the volcanic soil is wiped away and the crypt is given a new lease of life.

Matagalpa cemetery, Nicaragua

A vibrant colour palette

Then some people place on the graves elaborate displays of flowers that they’ve brought with them or bought from the many vendors. In some cemeteries it’s a riot of colour, and the crypts themselves are often painted in bright tones which contrast with the sombre graveyards in many other countries. Evidently, people around the world have many different relationships with death and the dead.

While the general atmosphere is fairly upbeat, it’s not a party like the ones you will come across in Mexico or certain parts of Guatemala. People go to pay their respects and tidy up the graves, not to drink and dance.

Religious statues outside the cathedral in Leon, Nicaragua

Be respectful if you visit the cemeteries

If you want to observe Day of the Dead in Nicaragua, you can go to any local cemetery. People don’t generally mind visitors walking around, as long as they remain respectful of local customs.

Don’t shout or fool around, just have a quiet stroll and spend some time in the cemetery. Photographers will be pleased to know that taking pictures should be fine, too, as long as you are respectful.

Culture Trips launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes places and communities so special.

Our immersive trips, led by Local Insiders, are once-in-a-lifetime experiences and an invitation to travel the world with like-minded explorers. Our Travel Experts are on hand to help you make perfect memories. All our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

All our travel guides are curated by the Culture Trip team working in tandem with local experts. From unique experiences to essential tips on how to make the most of your future travels, we’ve got you covered.

Edit article