The Biggest and Best Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

 In Travel Journal

Cinco De Mayo is an exciting and colorful celebration, though a bit of confusion surrounds the holiday. What exactly are we celebrating on May 5? Typically thought of as Mexican Independence Day, the holiday is actually a celebration of the Battle of Puebla, a battle that expelled France out of Mexico. In fact, Cinco De Mayo isn’t a national holiday in Mexico, and some would say the U.S. celebrates the day more than Mexico does!
Just about every American city has its own version of a Cinco De Mayo celebration, but some do it up larger than others. Here’s a list of some of the biggest and best parties to commemorate this fun day.

image00_smSAN ANTONIO, TEXAS

San Antonio has a sizable Mexican-American population. If you’re looking for an authentic Cinco De Mayo experience, you’ve arrived at the right place. A weekend of events is dedicated to this fun and festive prideful day. If you happen to be in San Antonio on May 5, head over to Market Square, where a festival draws about 30,000 to 50,000 visitors. There are arts and crafts, dancers, Tejano and Conjunto music groups, authentic Mexican food and Mariachi bands.

If you are up for a small road trip, head to nearby San Marcos to celebrate Viva! Cinco De Mayo, a three-day festival including cook-offs, parades, pageants, live music and much more.

image01_smPHOENIX, ARIZ.

Phoenix knows how to throw a party. This Cinco De Mayo celebration is full of fun and is the Southwest’s largest celebration commemorating Mexico’s historic victory over the French Army in 1826. Downtown’s Patriots Square Park is considered to be the hub of the festivities.  There you will find hundreds of booths, vendors, musical entertainment, family activities, arts and crafts, product sampling and more.

In nearby Chandler, enjoy the family-friendly Chihuahua race, where you can watch adorable well trained pooches race to the finish line. Entry into this attraction is free.

More great celebrations are in nearby Scottsdale and Mesa, where there are many live performances and dancing.

image02_smLOS ANGELES

The birthplace of Los Angeles, Olvera Street throws one of the most exciting and traditional Cinco De Mayo parties in the country. The fiesta is filled with delicious Mexican food, Mariachis, Folklorico dancers and piñatas. Another exciting celebration in Los Angeles is located on Broadway Street in the downtown area. The street fair takes up 12 square blocks of city streets. More than 500,000 people join the fun, making this the largest Cinco De Mayo fiesta in the world. There is something for everyone at this block party!

SAN FRANCISCO

The Cinco De Mayo celebration in San Francisco’s Mission neighborhood is the perfect family-friendly event. The alcohol-free festival promotes awareness of improving health and the quality of life. The Kids Zone includes a petting zoo and a full day of arts and crafts. The fiesta showcases Mexican and Latin American cultures, with diverse offerings of delicious food. A Cinco De Mayo celebration wouldn’t be a true fiesta without music and dance, and there are plenty of Latin-influenced performances throughout the day.

image03_sm2CHICAGO

Make your way down to Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood, located south of downtown, to celebrate one of the most exciting cultural events of the year. The colorful Cinco De Mayo event (held the weekend closest to Cinco De Mayo) draws more than 200,000 people annually to Douglas Park to enjoy festivities that include various craft and carnival booths, cultural displays, food vendors from across the city. Come ready to dance, as live bands play all weekend long. On the Sunday closest to Cinco De Mayo, the Pilsen neighborhood joins together to parade down neighborhood streets in joyous celebration. The parade includes marching bands and floats of red, white and green that have been constructed by local businesses, organizations and schools.

Photos courtesy of respective Visitor’s Bureaus

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