Cinco de Mayo in metro Phoenix: Celebrate with mariachis, lowriders and more

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After two years of absence due to the COVID-19 pandemic, several events return to the Valley to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Cinco de Mayo commemorates Mexico’s 1862 victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla during the Franco-Mexican War.

At 9 a.m. on May 5, 1862, with the firing of a Mexican cannon in Puebla City, one of the most glorious days in the history of Mexico began. Despite the superiority in weapons and the tactics of the French forces, they were stopped by the Mexican troops, causing their withdrawal.

“For Mexico, it meant a great victory because a little disorganized and poor army was able to defeat one of the most powerful armies in the world at that time. In a few words, David had defeated Goliath. That is the meaning of the pride of Mexicans on this date,” said Magdaleno Manzanarez, professor and vice chancellor of External Affairs at Western New Mexico University.

According to Manzanarez, the victory began to be celebrated in the United States as early as 1863. It became more of a recognized date during the 1960s and '70s "with the effervescence of political and social movements in the U.S., mainly with the Chicano movement at the end of the '70s,” he said.

While Cinco de Mayo is not Mexico's Independence Day — which takes place on Sept. 16 — May 5 has become a holiday of note to many Mexicans and Mexican Americans living in the U.S. and in Arizona.

Across the Valley, Cinco de Mayo celebrations will begin on April 30 and will span from south Phoenix to Avondale, showcasing an appreciation of Mexican and Mexican American culture. From lowriders to authentic mariachi performances, there's a bit of fun and entertainment for everyone.

Avondale Fiesta

Like every year, the city of Avondale will host its traditional Avondale Fiesta, a street festival inspired by the Cinco de Mayo celebration.

Attendees will be able to enjoy Mexican typical dishes, as well as various family activities, bull riding, arts and crafts and more.

The local aztec dance troupe Danza Huitzlin will perform at 6 p.m., followed by a performance from Ballet Folklorico Esperanza at 7:30 p.m. Michael Lucarelli will also take to the stage and the festival will end with a presentation from Mariachi México Nuevo.

There will also be live wrestling from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

The Avondale Fiesta will have a cantina for anyone of legal age to enjoy traditional Mexican alcoholic beverages.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Ballet Folklorico Esperanza, which promotes and preserves Mexican culture through folkloric dance.

When: 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday, April 30.

Where: Old Town Avondale at 495 E. Wester Ave.

Admission: The event is free and for all ages.

Details: https://www.avondaleaz.gov/government/departments/parks-recreation/events/avondale-fiesta#ad-image-0.

Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival

For the first time since 2019, the Cinco de Mayo Festival returns to downtown Phoenix on Sunday, May 1, with performances by Lisa Lisa, Malo and Color Me Badd.

The festival is a historical fixture of the city and has entertained more than 3 million attendees during its 29 years of existence.

"We're gonna come back full force," said Ernestina Arvizu, whose family has hosted the festival since its inception, bringing hundreds of musical groups from across the Valley.

The festival will also feature ballet folklorico, a Lowrider Legacy car show, wrestling, a free kids zone with rides and interactive games, giveaways from sponsors and plenty of concession stands serving traditional food, beer, margaritas and other beverages.

Arvizu Scholarships in partnership with Grand Canyon University has awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships to Hispanic high school students looking to continue their education in university programs.

"The reaction to the festival returning this year has been pretty phenomenal. People are excited about getting back out," Arvizu said.

When: Noon to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 1.

Where: Third Avenue at Washington Street, Phoenix.

Admission: $5 before 5 p.m. (on-site only). $10 general admission after 5 p.m. (on-site or online). Kids ages 10 and under free. VIP tickets are available for $40.

Details: https://cincophx.com/.

Cinco de Mayo Street Fair & Car Show

The Cinco de Mayo Street Fair & Car Show in south Phoenix is ​​a free community event with vendors, entertainment, food, dancing and, more importantly, lowriders.

It will be held on Sunday, May 1, beginning at 5 p.m. on Central Avenue between South Plaza and St Catherine's in south Phoenix.

According to the organizers Old School City, a local print shop in Phoenix, the Cinco de Mayo Street Fair & Car Show was born as a way to commemorate an important date for Mexican Americans in the Valley.

Attendees can expect performances from Tito Bermudez, Poe'it Bejarano, Arodz, JaYpDTP, OG Salcido, Hypnote G Routed and Joey 602, among others.

When: 5 p.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday, May 1.

Where: On Central Avenue, near Lynne Avenue, in south Phoenix

Admission: The event is free and for all ages.

Details: https://www.facebook.com/events/old-school-city/cinco-de-mayo-street-fair-car-show-in-south-phoenix/330181275719355/.

Mariachi Sol de México performance

José Hernández's Mariachi Sol de México will pay a spectacular tribute to the legends of mariachi music and the golden age of Mexican cinema on Thursday, May 5, in Phoenix with their show Leyendas.

The mariachi is known as one of the best in Mexico having played alongside late legends like Vicente Fernandez and Juan Gabriel.

The group will perform songs by great Mexican music and cinema artists, such as Pedro Infante, Jorge Negrete and Vicente Fernandez. The show will begin at 7 p.m. at the Madison Center for the Arts.

When: 7 p.m. Thursday, May 5.

Where: Madison Center for the Arts, 5601 N. 16th St. in Phoenix

Admission: Tickets are on sale now at ticketmaster.com and range from $35 to $65.

Details: Call 602-664-7777 or visit https://www.themadison.org/site/Default.aspx?PageID=2&DomainID=4#calendar1/20220505/event/69.

Republic reporter Ed Masley contributed to this article.

Reach La Voz reporter Nadia Cantú at nadia.cantu@lavozarizona.com or on Twitter @nadia_cantu.

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This article originally appeared on Arizona Republic: Cinco de Mayo 2022: How to celebrate the Mexican holiday in Phoenix