Around May 5th each year Mexican culture is celebrated with mariachi music, costumed parades and decorated streets, while Mexican food and games like piñata add to the revelry. This annual event, Cinco de Mayo, marks Mexico’s 1862 victory against the French army. Having taken place in Puebla, the UNESCO World Heritage town is still at the heart of the celebrations, but more festivities can be found across Mexico and – originating from when Mexican Americans began celebrating their heritage through the festival – also throughout the United States. Follow our guide to celebrating Cinco de Mayo with Trafalgar.
The Yucatan Peninsula
While the town of Puebla is where Mexico’s biggest Cinco de Mayo parade takes place, there are smaller celebrations in destinations that attract a lot of travellers, such as the Yucatan Peninsula. Here, Cancun celebrates the occasion with enthusiasm as parties unfold throughout the city, within its restaurants and bars. More celebrations of this kind can be found in Merida and Campeche.
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The Cinco de Mayo street fair, Fiesta Broadway (traditionally held over the last weekend in April) claims to be the world’s biggest, with around 300,000 people coming each year to watch live music, take part in carnival activities and tuck into typical Mexican fare. A smattering of smaller events are also held throughout other neighbourhoods, including a traditional celebration on Olvera Street featuring mariachi music, Mexican folk dance and piñatas, among other activities.
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Due to its large Hispanic population, Denver hosts another of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the United States, beginning back in 1988. Mexican music, dancers and food are all a part of the experience. Taking place on the weekend of May 7th this year, the 2016 edition of Cinco de Mayo Denver is set to feature a taco eating competition and chihuahua races, in addition to the traditional parade and stage performances.
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Since it began in 1983, the five-day Cinco de Mayo Fiesta in Portland has grown in popularity each year to now attract around 300,000 people for its offering of live music, carnival rides and food vendors in celebration of Mexican culture, as well as for the event’s fireworks display. Entertainment includes a Lucha Libre wrestling tournament and free to join art workshops.
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As another city with a significant Mexican population, Chicago marks Cinco de Mayo with gusto. The city’s three-day Cinco de Mayo Festival combines a traditional parade, music and dancing, with a variety of live performances, family-friendly activities and a generous offering of Mexican food and drink.
Locals have been celebrating Cinco de Mayo in San Diego’s historic Old Town neighbourhood for over 30 years. Taking place each May, the festivities stretch across four stages with around 40 bands and mariachi music, activities and food vendors filling the streets, not to forget the margarita gardens and tequilerias.
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Image credits: Cover photo of a piñata © iStock / love_life. Mariachi © iStock / Cristian Lazzari. Mexican Folklore Dancers © iStock / jmalov. Piñatas © iStock / Osmany Torres Martin. Mexican tacos © iStock / rez-art. Mariachi © iStock / Doug Berry. Music on Cinco de Mayo © iStock / oscarcwilliams.