In addition to every Mexican restaurant and bar having Cinco de Mayo specials and more than the usual number of strolling mariachis, Los Angeles has the largest Cinco de Mayo street fair in the world as well as many smaller celebrations in the city's many neighborhoods.
Cinco de Mayo, which literally means the Fifth of May in Spanish, is a holiday originating in Puebla, Mexico, to commemorate the last foreign battle on North American soil. The Mexican army defeated the much larger and better-equipped French army in the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862.
While Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Pueblo and some other parts of Mexico, it is not an official national holiday in Mexico. However, it has gained popularity around the world as a celebration of Mexican heritage. It is often confused outside of Mexico with Mexican Independence Day, the biggest Mexican holiday, which is September 16 (Dieciseis de Septiembre).
There are Cinco de Mayo festivals in Mexican-American communities across the United States, but the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations are right here in Los Angeles.
This information was accurate at the time of publication. Please check with venues for the most current information.
Fiesta Broadway is a multi-block street fair with music, games, and vendor booths in Downtown Los Angeles. It used to be a mile long, but it's now just the several blocks around Grand Park and takes place the last Sunday in April, which will be April 28, 2019. The festivities take place on Broadway from Temple to 4th Street, including Grand Park, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and is free to attend. More than 200,000 people attend each year, so you know it's a good time.
Friday night there will be live music and dancing in the Plaza Kiosko, followed by a traditional celebration over the weekend with mariachis, Folklorico dancers, piñatas, and other activities for the kids at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument on Olvera Street in Downtown Los Angeles. Festivities in 2019 take place at North Alameda Street at Olvera Street from Friday, May 4 through Sunday, May 6. El Pueblo also hosts a variety of celebrations throughout the year, and you can view a full list of happenings on the annual events calendar.
Originally started in 2017, the Hecho en LA: Taco Madness presented by L.A. Taco and I LOVE MICHELADAS returns in 2019 to the LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes just in time for Cinco de Mayo. The 21-and-over event will feature some of the best micheladas (Mexican beer cocktails) and tacos from street food carts, stands, and trucks as well as from award-winning chefs and restaurants. There will also be DJs and live art throughout the duration of the event, which is occurring on Friday, May 4, 2019.
The largest Mexican-American community in Orange County is located in the city of Santa Ana, which celebrates Cinco de Mayo with two days of festivities including carnival rides, games, music, dance, and lots of food. Located on historic 4th Street (Calle Cuatro) in downtown Santa Ana, the event runs from Friday nights' carnival through the full celebration over the weekend. Dates for 2019 run from May 3 through 5.
A crazy Mexican combination of acrobatic masked wrestlers, burlesque, striptease, and comedy will return to the Mayan Theater on South Hill Street in Los Angeles. The touring show is stopping in Los Angeles for three nights on May 3, 4, and 5, 2019. Although prices are on par with other big-name concerts and shows, you can check Goldstar for discount tickets, which must be purchased before the show. The show is general admission, and there's a dance party after the performance.
An authentic Mexican meal will be served and accompanied by live mariachi music on the Main Lawn at Descanso Gardens in La Canada Flintridge on Friday, May 3, 2019. This annual event, which always falls on the Friday before Cinco de Mayo, features a four-course pop-up dinner from Maple Restaurant featuring barbacoa de mole, cerdo, and other traditional Mexican favorites. There will also be a cash bar on premise, but tickets must be purchased in advance to attend.
Hosted by LA Epic Club Crawls each year, the Cinco de Mayo Hollywood Club Crawl takes guests to up to four different bars, clubs, and lounges to celebrate the Mexican holiday. The purchase of a crawl ticket gets guests drink specials, VIP express entry, and no cover fees.
If you're on the west side of Los Angeles and looking for a great way to drink and socialize on Cinco de Mayo, you can attend VIP Nightlife's own Santa Monica Pub Crawl on Saturday, May 4, 2019. The crawl will feature half-priced beers, tequila cocktails, and tequila shots, but you must register for the event at the Circle Bar on Main Street between 3 and 10 p.m. At registration, you will receive a map to bars, pubs, and clubs who are participating in the drink specials, which will last until 2 a.m.
The castle courtyard at Citadel Outlets will be decorated for the Cinco de Mayo celebration, a two-day festival on Saturday and Sunday, May 4 and 5, 2019, from noon to 2 p.m. Each year, the Cinco de Mayo celebration featuring live ballet Folklorico and mariachi performances as well as sales at many of the Citadel's shops and street tacos for purchase from the Center Court from noon to 7 p.m. Tickets are not required to attend, and the event is free of charge.
On Cinco de Mayo, a number of Hollywood bars are participating in a self-guided crawl—drinkers are to pay $10 at a meeting point (location TBA) between 12 p.m. and 5 p.m., where they'll grab a wristband that gets them discounts at a number of establishments across Hollywood. Since it's a self-guided crawl, you're welcome to stay at each venue as long as you like.
Head to the W Hollywood for a Cinco de Mayo party on its rooftop (yes, there's a pool), hosted by VIP Nightlife. There's a cocktail hour from 9:30 p.m. to 11 p.m., followed by hours of dancing with a live DJ. It's a swanky way to spend a Saturday night, complemented by a gorgeous skyline view.
On May 4 at 7 p.m., the Michelada Music Festival will be held at Plaza De La Raza in Lincoln Park and will feature live music by La Sonora Dinamita, WC, Petey Pablo, Los Cadetes De Linares, The Twins, Adina Howard, RBL Posse, Diamond Ortiz, and Mariachi Quinto Sol. The event is 21+ (there's a full bar) and will be held rain or shine.