Cinco de Mayo might have Mexican origins, but the holiday has gained more traction in the United States than its own home country over the years. May 5 is a time to celebrate all the greatness that hails from south of the border: margaritas, tacos, and mariachi music, namely.
The day actually commemorates a battle in which 4,000 Mexican soldiers triumphed over twice as many French fighters in Puebla, Mexico, in 1862. Celebrations surrounding the holiday are notably different in Mexico, though. Simply put, there's a lot more cerveza and tequila involved with Cinco de Mayo in the States.
Cities around the country observe the holiday with Mexican food, happy hours, street fairs, and parades. In some places, the revelries can carry on for several days. Naturally, the biggest and most authentic celebrations occur where there is a high concentration of Mexicans and Mexican Americans.
Albuquerque, New Mexico
The capital of New Mexico is imbued with Mexican flair year-round, but especially during this springtime fiesta. The National Hispanic Cultural Center has been known to showcase traditional folklórico dance while mariachi bands enliven the annual Folk Art Fest. You'll find plenty of additional festivities happening in Albuquerque's abundant cantinas, too.
The two-day Cinco de Mayo Celebrate Culture Festival in Denver is attended by some 400,000 people every spring. Two stages in Civic Center Park host mariachi, cumba, salsa, norteno, Spanish rock, and Latin jazz into the night. Best of all, it's free.
Chicago takes more than St. Patrick's Day seriously, evidently. The Little Village neighborhood becomes a mecca for Mexican food, cultural displays and live music when Cinco de Mayo rolls around. Cultural floats drift down the street during the parade, too.
Midwesterners get into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo just as much, especially on South 24th Street in Omaha, Nebraska. A Miss Cinco de Mayo is crowned during this annual carnival. You can bet on live music, food stalls, and a beer garden as well.
May 5 calls for a number of scattered celebrations throughout the desert city of Phoenix, but they all come to a head at the Cinco de Mayo Phoenix festival downtown. This street party keeps the true meaning of the holiday in mind by incorporating educational programming into the jamboree.
The fiesta in Portland is the largest multicultural festival in the entire state of Oregon. People by the thousands flood to Tom McCall Waterfront Park to mingle with authentic artisans from the Mexican state of Jalisco and music from Guadalajara.
The Grand Sierra Resort in Reno, Nevada, throws a big cultural celebration which is attended by more than 100,000 people each year. Traditional dancing, piñatas, and even amateur boxing set this event apart.
Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Minneapolis' District del Sol on the West Side of St. Paul. Partygoers may opt into a salsa tasting contest, participate in crafts, or stop by the wellness village.
San Antonio, Texas
Mexican music reigns on May 5 in this Southwestern city. Here, even high schools have their own mariachi bands, which make for prime entertainment at the Cinco de Mayo youth competition in the historic Market Square.
San Francisco, California
The Mission neighborhood pulls out all the stops on this day, hosting free, all-day cultural entertainment, including lucha libre wrestlers and tours of the famous Mission Dolores.
San Diego, California
You can find made-to-order tamales, from-scratch tortillas, and street tacos any day of the year in Old Town San Diego. On Cinco de Mayo, though, the Mexican heritage in this colorful little quarter is amplified. The Bazaar del Mundo is where most of the festivities take place.