Not to be confused with Mexico’s Independence Day on September 16, Cinco de Mayo traditionally commemorates Mexico's freedom from France. Today, May 5 remains one of the most notable occasions for recognizing the country’s rich history – and people use the day as a good excuse to celebrate Mexican heritage in all its finest forms, from mariachi to margaritas. Here, five cities across the U.S. with festive (and mostly free) celebrations.
Cinco de Mayo Big Parade and Festival; Dallas, Texas
Like any good neighborhood block party, the 24th annual Cinco de Mayo party in Oak Cliff will be packed with live deejays and musical performances, sno cones, face painting, and a mammoth parade down West Jefferson Boulevard – the largest of its kind in North Texas. Don’t Miss: The drumline competition will take place along the parade route around 1 p.m. Even with nachos, gorditos, or fried chicken in hand, you still can stomp your feet to the beat.
400-700 West Jefferson Boulevard; Saturday, May 3, 11 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cinco de Mayo on Cherokee Street; St. Louis, Missouri
On and off for the past 15 years, Cherokee Street has been throwing a Cinco de Mayo party with live music, local art, authentic food, a community parade, and a mechanical bull. This year it’s on – and it promises to be full of margarita-fueled fun. Don’t Miss: Lucha Libre wrestling matches will take place throughout the day, not to mention three stages with more than 15 acts, including Illphonics, Imagen Musical, Lola Van Ella Burlesque, Los Desesperados del Norte, Cumbia Machin, and Bottoms Up Blues Gang.
Cherokee Street between Nebraska Street and Ohio Street; Saturday, May 3, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cinco de Mayo Festival; Los Angeles, California
For three full days, Olvera Street in downtown Los Angeles will welcome an influx of mariachi music, piñatas, folklorico dancers, carnival rides, and more for the weekend-long 84th annual Cinco De Mayo Festival. Don’t Miss: We like the idea of dancing your way from food vendor to food vendor as you take in all the festivities. If you’re looking for something more structured, though, free walking tours of historic El Pueblo de Los Angeles will be on offer Friday and Saturday morning.
Olvera Street, The Kiosko Plaza and South Plaza; Friday, May 2, 10 a.m.-12 a.m.; Saturday, May 3, 11 a.m.10 p.m.; Sunday, May 4, 11 a.m.-9 p.m.
Cinco de Mayo Festival; Denver, Colorado
The 27th annual Cinco De Mayo Festival around Civic Center Park has something for everyone. A chili bowl cook-off, taco eating contest, children’s carnival, mariachi mass, and live entertainment – from Zumba fitness demos to the DeLeon Brothers Band – are just a few of the features on the program. Don’t Miss: Chihuahua races launch on Sunday at 3 p.m., when pequeñas pups will dash their little hearts out to win a trophy and $500 cash.
Civic Center Park, between the State Capital and the City and County of Denver Building; Saturday & Sunday, May 3 & 4, 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Cinco de Miler; Chicago, Illinois
Bright and early on Sunday, May 4, runners will get some celebratory exercise in the 5K Cinco de Miler along Lakefront Trail in North Chicago. The first three male and female finishers receive festive sombreros. Don’t Miss: Once you’ve made it past the finish line (or met participants there after watching them fly by), head to the post-race fiesta for beer, chips and salsa, and churros – some of which is included in the $45 registration fee for all runners. Then, get in the piñata-slugging mood with a live mariachi band.
Montrose Harbor; Sunday, May 4; Race begins at 9:30 a.m.