Mexican Independence Day is not Cinco de Mayo, as most Americans believe. Instead, it is on September 16, or Dieciseis de Septiembre in Spanish. If you're visiting Los Angeles in September, which has a Hispanic population of nearly 5 million, you'll find plenty of ways to celebrate Mexico's independence, as well as the liberation of several other Central and South American countries.
Five other Hispanic countries—Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua—declared their independence on September 15, and because of this, the United States celebrates National Hispanic Heritage Month from September 15 to October 15. As a result, you'll find plenty of reasons to indulge in all things Latino in Los Angeles in September and October—from Fiesta Patrias in Santa Ana to the Baja Splash Cultural Festival at the Aquarium of the Pacific.
Fiesta Patrias in Santa Ana
On September 15 and 16, 2019, join the city of Santa Ana for one of the largest celebrations of Mexican Independence in the United States, Fiesta Patrias. Events and activities for the two-day festival take place in and around the Santa Ana Civic Stadium and include over 50 vendors serving up traditional Mexican food on Flower Street, two stages featuring music and dance performances, and a street fair and carnival that attracts over 200,000 visitors each year.
You also won't want to miss El Grito Ceremony on Saturday night, which is celebrated in remembrance of the Mexican priest Miguel Hidalgo, who called on residents of the town of Dolores to rise up against the Spaniards on the night of September 15, 1810, sparking the final battle that won Mexico its independence.
Fiestas Patrias at El Pueblo
The annual celebration of Mexican Independence Day at Olvera Street Plaza includes live music, dancing, carnival games and rides, and exhibit booths at El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument. Know as the birthplace of Los Angeles, El Pueblo is a great place to celebrate the Hispanic heritage of the city.
Friday of the festival features entertainment on the gazebo stage at Plaza Kiosko, and for the rest of the weekend, the event also takes over Los Angeles Street and Main Street with two days of traditional entertainment, cultural activities, historic displays, art exhibitions, and authentic Mexican cuisine.
Los Angeles Latino Heritage Month Opening Ceremonies
The City of Los Angeles honors the contributions of Latino cultural and civic leaders with an awards ceremony at City Hall and a presentation of the DCA's Latino Heritage Month Calendar and Cultural Guide for the coming month. The Opening Ceremony will take place on September 15, 2019, at City Hall and is open to the general public for free. After the event, you'll be able to download or pick up the full Hispanic Heritage Month guide at various venues in the city or on the official Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs website.
El Grito de Dolores at City Hall and Grand Park
El Grito de Dolores (The Cry of Suffering) marked the beginning of the Mexican War of Independence and is reenacted every year with a historic cry and bell ringing from the steps of the Los Angeles City Hall. Afterward, a full day of events takes place in Grand Park during a family-friendly festival honoring not only Mexico's independence but also other Latin American countries that celebrate their independence in mid-September. El Grito de Dolores will take place, as per tradition, on September 15, 2019, at 5:30 p.m.
East LA Mexican Independence Day Parade and Festival
One of the longest-running Mexican Independence Day parades in the United States, the East Los Angeles parade and festival has been a tradition in the city since 1948. The street parade in the morning is followed by an all-day street festival on Mednik between Cesar E. Chavez and First in front of the East LA Civic Center on Sunday, September 8, 2019.
Local dignitaries including the Mayor, district supervisors, councilmembers, and state senators all make appearances during the parade, and special guests from previous years include Coleen Sullivan from ABC7 Eyewitness News, Mexican actor Armando Silvestre, and professional boxer Oscar De La Hoya.
Aquarium of the Pacific Baja Splash Cultural Festival
Located on Long Beach's Rainbow Harbor, the Aquarium of the Pacific hosts a special event each year to honor the Hispanic heritage of the city. On September 28 and 29, 2019, join the aquarium for the Baja Splash Cultural Festival, which commemorates National Hispanic Heritage Month with dance and music performances, bilingual environmental programs, cultural arts and crafts, and even some traditional Hispanic snacks. The event is free to attend with the purchase of admission to the aquarium and takes place from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on both days.