Cinco de Mayo Hotspots
While it’s not widely observed in Mexico, Cinco de Mayo (May 5) has become a time to celebrate Mexican history and culture in cities across the United States—and everyone’s invited to the party!
Cinco de Mayo commemorates a victory by the Mexican army against the better-equipped French forces in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The victory was a matter of pride for Mexicans living in California in the 19th century. Over 155 years, Cinco de Mayo festivals became an annual tradition in many U.S. communities, usually taking place during the first weekend in May.
With its large Mexican-American population, California is home to some of the biggest festivals. In Los Angeles, historic Olvera Street, with its Mexican marketplace, cafes, and restaurants, is the site of a three-day party, with mariachi bands, folk dancing, and piñata games. San Francisco’s celebration takes place May 6 in the Mission District, a center of the Latin American community. The day offers events for adults and children alike, with music, dancing, and more than 75 vendors selling an array of food, artwork, and crafts.
Texas is also a great place to go for Cinco de Mayo festivities. In San Antonio, the celebration takes place in the city’s historic Market Square, a three-block outdoor plaza. It’s the largest Mexican market in the United States, with more than 100 shops and stalls selling authentic arts and crafts and restaurants serving gourmet Mexican cuisine. In Dallas, the annual Cinco de Mayo parade takes place May 6. But the Saturday before the holiday, April 29, it’s Taco Libre at the Dallas Farmers Market, a celebration of the city’s best taquerias, bands, and the uniquely Mexican professional wrestling known as lucha libre.
Denver holds its 30th annual Cinco de Mayo celebration May 6–7 in Civic Center Park, with music and dancing from morning until night, vendors selling Mexican folk art, a children’s carnival, a parade Saturday morning, a taco-eating contest, and a Chihuahua race. Of course food is a big part of the celebration. Visitors will enjoy some of Colorado’s best Mexican cuisine, including the annual Green Chili Bowl Cook-Off.
The Cinco de Mayo festival in Portland, Oregon, celebrates Mexican culture as well as ties with sister city Guadalajara, Mexico. It takes place May 5–7 in Portland’s beautiful Tom McCall Waterfront Park, overlooking the Willamette River, and features mariachi musicians and artisans from Guadalajara, along with carnival rides and a children’s activity area.
For Mexicans, the victory commemorated by Cinco de Mayo was one event in its long struggle for independence, so it’s not widely celebrated. The exception is Puebla, where every year festivities, including a parade, mark the victory. About two hours south of Mexico City, Puebla is one of Mexico’s oldest cities and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, renowned for its cuisine, crafts, and Spanish colonial architecture. It’s also a great spot for active travelers, with opportunities for hiking, mountain biking, and paragliding.
For help planning a Cinco de Mayo getaway, contact Travel Leaders COS at 800-273-0793 or info@TravelLeadersCOS.com.