General festival questions/Cirque du Horror
David Pierce, 817-657-9698

Vendor applications
Amy Moore Stults, 940-765-3638

Coffin Races
Kelley Pound, 940-453-6854

Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival

Held outside on Hickory and Industrial St, Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival captures the very essence of Denton’s artistic spirit: a true collaboration of the eclectic art and music community that only the northernmost tip of the golden triangle can provide. As is the artistic scene in this ever growing “little” town, Denton’s DOD Festival is a wonderful smorgasbord, paying homage to many of fall’s treasures such as cooler weather, the harvest, the celebration of Dia de los Muertos, and all things Halloween. It harkens to an earlier, simpler time, when communities gathered outdoors to celebrate life through song and dance, good food and drink, and camaraderie.

Denton’s DOD Fest includes Denton’s original Halloween Cabaret “Cirque du Horror,” as well as Denton’s very own Coffin Races and a lantern-lit twilight parade all help make this event truly magical, and one you won’t soon forget!

‘Cirque du Horror,’ an original Halloween musical – tickets to all three shows are now available here:

In October of 2012, the community of Denton had its first ever coffin race. The rules were simple. Drivers had to be mindful of wheel size, and helmets and brakes were strongly encouraged at best. Of course, that didn’t stop many drivers from disregarding all the rules, and spectators saw everything from cars with no steering wheels to someone racing a hospital gurney.

The Midway Mart coffin barrels down Hickory Street during the coffin races, one of the premier attractions of Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival. (Photo by Ed Steele Photography)

Luckily, no major incidents were reported, no lawsuits were filed, and for the sake of safety and fairness, today’s coffin racer will find many strict rules and regulations to adhere to.

The coffin races have easily become one of the most popular attractions of the festival, and spectators seem to show up earlier every year to stake their claim on what they believe to be the more coveted viewing spots on Hickory.

The 2019 Coffin Races will take place on Saturday, October 26th from 1p.m. to 4:30p.m.
Questions? Contact

Imagine a time when a community would get together for a proper celebration, walking the streets in merriment, serenaded by horns and the beat of the drums. Let our lantern-lit parade bring that magical imagery to life! Don your finest costume, design and build your own paper lantern or puppet and join the fun. Winding around the square and surrounding streets, our lantern parade is free and open to everyone.

Festival goers show off their calavera makeup during the Twilight Parade of Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival. (Photo by Ed Steele Photography)

The 2019 Twilight & Costume Parade will line up at 6 p.m. on Oct. 26 at Austin & E. Hickory streets. Join us with illuminated lanterns, glowing costumes, and blinking bikes. Bring your decorated cars, trucks, and floats. Slap some lights on a musical instrument or a drum and march with us!

The parade ends at Oakland and E. Hickory Street, where you can dance to the last band of the night or get your tickets to Cirque du Horror!

If you’re interested in participating in the 2019 Twilight Lantern & Costume Parade, register online here. For more information send an email to

In 2018, the Twilight Lantern & Costume Parade committee and Artists Enclave of Denton County built the first-ever community altar for Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival. A team of volunteer artists worked under the direction of Laura Gonzales, the co-chair of the Twilight Lantern Parade, to create an ofrenda — a traditional Mexican altar honoring the dead. Three colorful levels – representing earth, purgatory and heaven — will hold food offerings, a salt cross to purify the spirits, sugar skulls, copal incense and a large cross and arch representing the entry to the world of the dead.

This year, community members are again invited to bring objects memorializing their dead loved ones – copies of photographs, poems, favorite food and drink – and place them on the altar. Attendees will also be invited to write the names of their dead loved ones on handmade Monarch butterflies and handmade calaveras – sugar skulls – to leave on the altar. (Objects will not be returned after the festival.)

At twilight, the altar will be illuminated and will become a float in the Twilight Lantern & Costume Parade.

Join us in remembering and honoring the dead at the community altar. If you would like to volunteer to work at the altar during the festival, send an email to

Let Cirque du Horror take you on a musical journey, transporting you to another time and place. Perhaps a time where sideshows and carnivals traveled the countryside performing in grassy clearings outside of town. Or maybe where oil lamps and candlelight guided you through rain-soaked muddy streets and dark alleyways, where a massive striped tent waited full of wonders and horrors alike. Inside, perhaps a bearded lady and a hall of mirrors are prepared to make you laugh and chuckle, or you might find grisly tales and ghostly visions to send chills down your spine…

All of this is Cirque du Horror, a show that screams “Halloween!” It’s a little fright and a lot of laughter, with a touch of eye of newt and tail of rat. It was created in 2009 by local composer David J. Pierce, to provide the community with fine Halloween-themed entertainment cradled somewhere between “too scary” and “not enough.” Appropriate for the entire family, it is a delightful descent into the macabre. Come join us for a collection of bone-chilling poems, spine-tingling short stories, and spooky songs guaranteed to have you jumping from your chair with fright and splitting your sides with laughter.

Purchase tickets here

For our younger goblins and ghouls, be sure to take a stroll through the playful Pumpkin Patch, where you’ll find a variety of carnival games and craft projects. Featuring a bounce house, puppet theater, and numerous amusements for tots, the Pumpkin Patch is a place where tiny tots can let their imaginations run wild while earning a few treats for their tricks! Costumes encouraged!

Hours: 11 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. FREE!

And just down the street in The Point Bank Black Box Theatre, you can delight in a Haunted House! Designed, constructed and run by the amazing students from the Denton High School Theatre Department, the Haunted House is sure to thrill those brave enough to enter its doors (as well as a tamer option which is a great photo-op for more timid kids!)

Hours: 12 p.m. – 9 p.m. FREE!

Welcome to the Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival Costume Contest!

Every year, we see tons of people dressed in outstanding makeup and unforgettable costumes that attend our festival. We introduced the Costume Contest to honor these attendees and found it to be a hit! We are welcoming you to be a part this year!

The contest will offer entry into one of three categories:

  • Day of the Dead-Themed Costume Category (13 years of age and older)
  • General Category (13 years of age and older)
  • Child (12 years of age and younger)
  • Group/Family

This year we will need audience participation in judging our beautifully dressed contestants. This will be done by texting a number on your phone so please don’t forget to bring it with you to participate!

The winners will receive a trophy, a spot as one of the Honorary Parade Chairmen in the Twilight Lantern and Costume Parade and their name and photograph on our social media accounts and in the Denton Record-Chronicle.

This year there will also be on-site registration in addition to online costume contest registration. It’s a first-come, first-serve style so please arrive early to guarantee your entrance into the contest.

For more information, send an email to, or stop by the registration booth during the festival, located beside the main stage (in front of Fuzzy’s) at 4:30 PM.

Blog posts

Day of the Dead was a frighteningly good time

If you believe that coffins are just for laying dead people while everyone mourns around them, then you haven’t seen it all. However, if you find it absurd and are thrilled to know how else people use coffins, then ask the people…

Published on: Mon, Oct 30, 2017

Discover Denton Gears Up for Coffin Races and Day of the Dead

Her face was pasty white, lips black. Her nose was black with a little white stripe to mimic a black widow spider crawling down her sugar skull smile towards its web painted on her chin. With her hands, she wrestled…

Published on: Sun, Oct 22, 2017

Tradition, Dentoning and Homecoming

One of Denton’s most captivating characteristics to me is what happens when we come together. I find it almost magical. It is original and independent, unlike anything I’ve experienced anywhere else. We are a diverse and largely passionate people, and…

Published on: Sun, Oct 30, 2016

Day of the Dead – Denton-Style

  It is happening this coming weekend, Saturday, October 25, 2014, on Industrial Street in downtown Denton.  Día de los Muertos.  Day of the dead. The evidence is everywhere.  Orange lights adorn houses.  Pumpkins are piled by front porches beside…

Published on: Sun, Oct 19, 2014

Halloween Dentoning

The air is a little cooler, the leaves on trees are changing to beautiful shades of gold and crimson, pumpkins and Jack-o-Lanterns greet your feet at doorsteps of neighbors and shops around town. It’s beginning to look a lot like…

Published on: Thu, Sep 26, 2013