For two days each May, the people of Denver tip their hats to the spirit of freedom and the beauty of Latino culture with their annual Cinco de Mayo festival, entitled "Celebrate Culture," at Central Civic Park. Family-friendly events include a parade, green chili cook-off, chihuahua races and local and international talent performing on three separate stages.
On May 5, 1862, Mexican General Ignacio Zaragoza and his outnumbered soldiers successfully defended the town of Puebla, Mexico against larger and better equipped French occupying forces. While not the official day of Mexican independence, Cinco de Mayo has become a symbol of Mexican pride and heritage.
Texas has a sizable Mexican-American population, and the bars and restaurants here make a mean margarita, so if you're looking for an authentic Cinco experience, look no further. San Antonio's Market Square serves as party central on May 5, with music, Tex-Mex, concerts and colorful folklorico dancing.
In true New York style, the city commemorates Cinco de Mayo with a parade at Central Park West, complete with mariachi music, folklorico dancers and colorful floats. For those over 21 years of age, celebrate the day with a margarita-infused Cinco de Mayo pub crawl, organized by dozens of NYC bars.
Los Angeles hosts one of the largest Cinco de Mayo celebrations in the country with a multi-day festival known as Fiesta Broadway. Later, the party shifts to El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historical Monument, where the city's oldest district gets decked out with Mexican flags and visitors dance, listed to Mexican folk tales, eat and enjoy traditional music.
Washington, D.C. hosts the National Cinco de Mayo Festival each year with a performance by the Maru Montero Dance Co. This celebration extends beyond Mexican culture and embraces the heritage of all of Latin America. In previous years, performers have come all the way from Guatemala, Peru, Puerto Rico, El Salvador, Argentina and Nicaragua to perform in front of the Washington Monument.
The city of Chicago never passes up on a party, and Cinco de Mayo is no exception. Adult celebrants can buy a wrist band for the annual Chicago Cinco de Mayo Pub Crawl. Families can head to one of Chicago's many Mexican eateries for special menus and music or watch the annual parade on Sacramento Drive in Lawndale.
Each May, San Franciscans celebrate the best of Latin American and Mexican heritage with a day-long festival at Dolores Park. More than 10,000 people typically show up for the celebration, and since the event is alcohol-free, it's one of the country's most family-friendly Cinco de Mayo events. Expect plenty of food, live entertainment and a Kids Zone filled with arts and crafts activities.
Minnesota probably isn't the first place that comes to mind when you think Mexican heritage, but St. Paul's District Del Sol on the West Side hosts one of the nation's best Cinco de Mayo celebrations. Festivities include a parade down Cesar Chavez Street, a lowrider car show, a 5k race and three stages of live entertainment.
Cinco de Mayo festivities in Phoenix aren't limited to a single location. Check out the hundreds of booths in downtown's Patriots Square Park, watch a chihuahua race in Chandler, watch live performances on the stage in Scottsdale or enjoy three days of dancing and festivities in Mesa.