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No city celebrates Cinco de Mayo quite like San Antonio. Whether it’s the history, music, dance, or food that inspires you, this year San Antonio is providing ample opportunities to commemorate the Mexican army’s surprise victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla, May 5, 1862.
Note that since May 5 falls on a Tuesday this year, many festivities take place over the weekend.
Market Square – Tuesday, May 5
If you like your gatherings big and your entertainments diverse, look no further than Market Square’s annual Cinco de Mayo Festival. With some 50,000 attendees every year, the ever-popular event will feature Mariachi, Tejano and Conjunto music, folklórico dancers, arts and crafts, concerts and, of course, fantastic food.
La Villita and the Arneson River Theatre
Saturday, May 2
Celebrate history in San Antonio’s oldest neighborhood, the perennially charming La Villita. The first annual TejasFest will be held May 2 from 10 a.m until 6 p.m. at Maverick Plaza. It will celebrate the cultures that make Texas unique with Tejano music, folklóric dancing, and German and Mexican food. The event is free and open to the public, hosted by San Antonio Clubhouse, which is dedicated to providing opportunities for men and women with mental illness.
For those inclined to continue the festivities after dark, stick around Maverick Plaza for a concert by Brave Combo. The Grammy Award winning band boasts an astoundingly extensive repertoire, including salsa, meringue, rock, polka, blues, and more. They promise a “rollicking, rocking rhythmic global journey.” The concert goes from 7-10 p.m. Tickets are $12, and can be purchased online.
Saturday and Sunday, May 2 -3
The culture continues at the Arneson River Theatre, which will host San Antonio Park’s Ballet Folklorico on Saturday and Sunday from 6-9:30 p.m.
Tuesday, May 5
On Cinco de Mayo itself, enjoy dance and music that hearken back to San Antonio’s Mexican cultural heritage with Bravo! Cinco de Mayo! Performances begin at the Arneson River Theatre at 8 p.m.
King William – Sunday, May 3
This Sunday, bring the whole family and a picnic blanket to King William Park to celebrate with Mariachi Aguila. Brackenridge High School’s incredibly talented and award-winning group of mariachi performers will play from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m. The performance is free, courtesy of the King William Cultural Arts District, and you’re welcome to bring along chairs, blankets, and snacks. The park is located on King William Street, between Madison, Turner, and Washington Streets.
San Antonio Public Library – Saturday, May 2
If you are more interested in history and commemoration than margaritas, Forest Hill Library will honor Maria L. de Hernández (1896-1986), Mexican-American rights activist and educator. The fiesta will feature various speakers, including Dr. Mary Galindo, President of the Texas Archeological Society and granddaughter of Maria L. de Hernández, as well as music by the celebrated Paloma Arrellano. A reception will follow at the San Antonio Hispanic Chamber of Commerce. The event, held from 1-5 p.m., will celebrate family, community, and tradition. Admission is free.
Traders Village – Sunday, May 3
Traders Village and Univision will hold a gathering from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. with live music by Le Fe Nortega, Groupo Siggno and others, dancing, food—including turkey legs on the grill, margaritas y cerveza and more—and activities for the whole family. Parking is $3, but all events are free.
Los Patios – Saturday, May 2
Explore the artisan shops at Los Patios while you enjoy Mariachis, Mexican food, vendors, and family entertainment from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Admission and parking are free.
The Big Give S.A. – Tuesday, May 5
While not strictly a Cinco de Mayo celebration, honor your home city by participating in The Big Give SA. The 24-hour online community-wide giving challenge seeks to increase public awareness of the positive impact local nonprofits have on the city. Last year The Big Give S.A. raised $2 million for 467 participating agencies. The minimum donation is $10, and causes include animal welfare, the arts, education, the environment and many, many others, so you’re sure to find something you believe in. What better way to celebrate history than investing in the future?
*Featured/top image: A folklórico dancer dressed head to toe in colors and medals, performs during the crowning of El Rey Feo LXVI on Saturday April 19, 2014. Photo by Scott Ball.