Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the Southwest

Celebrating this Mexican Holiday

San Antonio Mariachi
Elizabeth R. Rose

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo in the Southwest

It used to be that anywhere a group of Mexican-Americans lived, there was a chance for a festive Cinco de Mayo celebration. Now, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated across the United States, sometimes with more reverence for cerveza and margaritas than the rich history of the event.

Cinco de Mayo History

No, it's not Mexican Independence Day. That is the 16th of September.

Cinco de Mayo, a Mexican national holiday, commemorates the Battle of Puebla. On May 5, 1862 a brave group of Mexican soldiers defeated a French army that was twice its size or more. This was one of the struggles to defend Mexico and ensure that freedom continued. Many years before the Battle of Puebla, in 1810, Mexico fought for and secured it’s freedom from Spanish rule.

The Cinco de Mayo website from San Marcos, Texas has a more in-depth article on the history of the holiday.

Traditional Celebrations

Cinco De Mayo festivities in Mexico include colorful parades, bullfights, re-enactments of the 1862 battle, mariachi music, folk dancing, cultural festivals, dancing and feasts, and plenty of drinking. In the evening, there are spectacular firework displays and pinatas for the children. Throughout Mexico, members of the armed forces publicly swear their allegiance to the country on Cinco de Mayo, and Mexico's president traditionally delivers a speech from the National Palace in Mexico City on that day.

Cinco de Mayo ends with the traditional shouts of Viva Mexico! Viva Juárez!

Cinco de Mayo Celebrations in the Southwestern U.S.


Phoenix, Arizona

Chandler, Arizona - Head to Chandler, just south of Phoenix, for a festival and Chihuahua races.

Cinco de May Special Event on the Verde Canyon Railraod - The Cinco de Mayo Celebration on May 5th unleashes a colorful fiesta saluting a rich heritage.

The roots of Hispanic culture run deep in the Verde Valley so it is no wonder that Cinco de Mayo is much anticipated throughout the region. The celebration begins at Verde Canyon Railroad before the train even departs the station. The rhythmic vitality of Mariachi music sets the toe-tapping mood while you enjoy authentic Mexican food and specialty drinks from the Copper Spike Café. To make reservations call 800-293-7245 or visit


San Marcos, Texas

Denton, Texas

Dallas Cinco de Mayo Celebrations - Dancers, artists, and performers gather at various festivals throughout the Metroplex. Many restaurants also offer special deals on food and drinks during this time.

Cinco de Mayo Across Texas- Because Texas was once part of Mexico, the state has a long-standing Mexican heritage and follows many Mexican traditions, including celebrating the popular Mexican holiday Cinco de Mayo. Although many people believe this is strictly a border-region phenomenon, towns across the state hold festivals to celebrate Mexico's most famous military victory.

New Mexico

Let's Party in Albuquerque - It’s a day to celebrate your nationality with music, food and dance. Cinco de Mayo is known for its parades, folklorico, mariachis and of course, its amazing food.

Here are some Cinco de Mayo events to celebrate Mexican culture, art and music.

Denver, Colorado

The Cinco de Mayo Celebrate Culture Festival attracts 400,000 people. Enjoy live Mexican regional, Spanish rock, Latin jazz, salsa, ranchero, Tex-Mex, and Chicano rock music at outdoor venues. Find more places to celebrate in Denver with the Top 5 things to do for Cinco de Mayo.


Reno and Lake Tahoe

One of the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebrations on the West Coast takes place in Reno each year. There is usually several celebrations and activites for Cinco de Mayo in Reno, and one in North Lake Tahoe, too. So enjoy!


Midvale, Utah

Does your Southwest city have an annual Cinco de Mayo celebration? E-mail us with the information and website url.


Los Angeles, California
Come to Olvera Street for a celebration of Mexico's victory over French forces in Puebla, Mexico in 1862 with popular and traditional music, cultural presentations, festival, dance, food and live entertainment. Performances by the original Mariachi USA, Flamenco Dancers and much more!

Some of the biggest celebrations are in Downtown Los Angeles. Both the festival Fiesta Broadway and the celebration at Olvera Street are Downtown but there are also more celebrations around the Greater LA area. Santa Ana in Orange County has a high population of Mexican-Americans and also has a big street festival.

San Diego, California
The San Diego Cinco de Mayo is located in historic Old Town San Diego, the birthplace of California. This completely free, sponsored event attracts over 100,000 visitors each year to three days of music and entertainment on five stages, world class food through Old Town restaurants, cultural and historic exhibits and reenactments located in a 22 block area of the Old Town community and Old Town San Diego Historic State Park.

Does your Southwest city have an annual Cinco de Mayo celebration? E-mail us with the information and website url.