We all love celebrating Cinco de Mayo…the tacos, the margaritas, the festivities! But how much do you really know about the fun-filled holiday?

Music, traditional Mexican food and drink, games and celebration will hit the streets of Phoenix for the 24th year running at the annual Cinco De Mayo Phoenix Festival.

This street festival lodged right in the heart of downtown Phoenix can be found off Washington Street and First Avenue on Sunday, May 7 from noon to 10 p.m. Thousands flock to the event every year to celebrate the Mexican holiday, which commemorates Mexico’s victory in the Battle of Puebla.

Carmen Love, account and event executive for Cinco Phoenix, said this year will feature the classic food, dance, music and celebration, but with more of a theatrical flair.

“I have a background in theater and I worked at the children’s museum in Tucson for a few years so, I just wanted to bring some more fun, interactive activities and this is what I came up with,” Love said. “I’m also obsessed with Frida [Kahlo],” she added.

That love for the iconic Mexican painter is speckled throughout the 2017 festival most dominantly in the Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera costume content. The contest will offer a $50 cash award for the winners of the child, child pair, adult and adult couple categories. The contest starts at 3:30 p.m.


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A group of Latina artists in the Valley, Phoenix Fridas, will also be at the festival doing artistic activities with kids, selling their work and doing live painting in the afternoon. It’s new this year and what Love said she’s most excited to see.

Also new this year, playing with the theme of theater, is the festival’s traveling mariachis. Groups of mariachi bands will be walking around the event, serenading festival-goers as they celebrate.

“Mariachis are a very cultural, traditional Mexican and Hispanic part of a culture,” Love said. “Last year — my first year — I was surprised that we didn’t have any mariachis out, but we didn’t have any room in the schedule and our stage line-up fills up pretty quickly so I was like, ‘You know what, why don’t we have roaming mariachis?'”

She’s not wrong about that the stage line-up: it’s packed. This year’s festival will feature a plethora of music and dancing. California-based Latin American funk band, War, headline the festival, accompanied by Latin R&B band Tierra, and soul singer Brenton Wood. Festival-goers will also have the chance to see traditional folk ballet dancers and Lucha Libre, a Mexican wrestling group.

However, a Cinco de Mayo festival wouldn’t be complete without one thing: the food.

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Every year Cinco Phoenix adds more and more to the line-up of food vendors, hitting the classics while keeping the choices fresh.

“We have barbecue, we have kettle corn, we have fry bread, so all the usual festival foods,” Love said. “But we’re also going to have tacos, so El Hefe tacos is going to be grilling carne asada right out there, we’re going to have Chicago-style hot dogs and Sonoran-style hot dogs.”

The event will also feature raspados (Mexican-style snow cones), fruit with tajin seasoning  and classic Hispanic dishes.


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Other festival highlights

  • Low-rider and classic vehicles display
  • Scholarship giveaways
  • Kids zone with rides and games
  • Prize giveaways

24th annual Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival

When: Noon.-10 p.m. Sunday, May 7.

Where: 200 W. Washington St., Phoenix.

Admission: $5 general admission. $25 VIP. $35 VIP Preferred. 


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