With the arrival of cooler weather in the desert, Sunnylands Center & Gardens is expanding the number of hours the public has access to its 9-acre desert garden, just as it launches its annual recognition of Coachella Valley Days of Los Muertos.  

Starting Wednesday, Oct. 28, the public will be able to visit the gardens free of charge from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

On that same day, Sunnylands begins its five-day celebration of Coachella Valley Days of Los Muertos.  As an observation of Día de Los Muertos, community groups have been invited to erect ofrendas, or altars, representing their organizations in the gardens. Local artists are adding their talents to the mix this year, decorating colorful nichos (shadow boxes) that also will be placed amid the aloes, agaves, and palo verde trees.

With its CV Days of Los Muertos displays in an outdoor setting, Sunnylands is one of the few places in the valley this year where the public can experience this cultural event during the coronavirus pandemic.

The public is invited to view the displays when Sunnylands is open Wednesday, Oct. 28, through Sunday, Nov. 1. Sunnylands will remain open until 8 p.m. for nighttime viewing of the displays on Thursday, Oct. 29, and Friday, Oct. 30.  Flashlights are recommended.

Another CV Days of Los Muertos partner, Raices Cultura, will be hosting a hybrid virtual/in-person event on Sunday, Nov. 1.  Check their website, https://www.raicescultura.org/dia-de-los-muertos, for details.

The expansion of Sunnylands’ operating hours is part of a planned, gradual reopening of the property during the pandemic.  Since mid-September, the gardens have been open from 7:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., Wednesday through Sunday.

“We’re excited that temperatures in the Coachella Valley are falling, and we are finally able to offer our guests a variety of ways to enjoy Sunnylands safely,” said Janice Lyle, director of Sunnylands Center & Gardens.  

Sunnylands will open its café to outdoor seating on Nov. 4. Outdoor tours of the historic Annenberg estate begin Nov. 11. See www.sunnylands.org for details.

Guests are required to wear face masks at all times, except when eating or drinking, and to maintain a 6-foot distance from people who are not in their party.

Sunnylands Center & Gardens is located at 37977 Bob Hope Drive in Rancho Mirage.