Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s victory over French forces during the 1862 Battle of Puebla, but for many of us, it’s a good reason to immerse ourselves in the culture of our neighbors to the south. Often, that involves food and drinks for the 21 and up set, but there are plenty of activities palatable to younger ones. Give them a little primer on all things Mexican with a booklet for school-age children, then head out to one of these five (er, cinco) area activities.

Photo: Zhu via flickr

Running of the Chihuahuas
This isn’t your typical day at the races, but it sure is cute. Watch the tiny dogs compete to win pet-friendly gifts at this seventh annual event. Spectator dogs can dress up for a chance to win prizes in the pet costume contest. There’s also a Waterfront Beer and Wine Garden, deejay, photo booth, mini-golf course and other kids’ activities. Plus, you’ll get to check out the Wharf, one of D.C.’s newest developments, with shops, restaurants and leisure activities.

Cost: Free
When: May 5, 1 p.m.-5 p.m.
Where: District Pier, 735 Water St., SW
Online: wharfdc.com

La Milla de Mayo 2018
The event, which translates to the May Mile, is a mile-long run/walk in a block party atmosphere. Free quarter- and half-mile kids runs start off the race, which ends with music, food, salsa dancing and Cinco de Mayo festivities. Proceeds from the event will benefit the city of Gaithersburg’s Dolores C. Swoyer Camp Scholarship Fund, which covers summer camp registration fees for underprivileged youth. Note: Strollers are welcome on the course.

Cost: $17-$28/adult, $10/kids ages 5-11, $5/kids under 5
When: May 5, 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m.
Where: See website for parking locations in Olde Town Gaithersburg
Online: gaithersburgmd.gov

Cinco de Mayo Street Party
Downtown Silver Spring will offer live music by Latin band Sol y Rumba, plus food, drinks, activities and giveaways for the whole family. Note: Go back the next day for Fiesta Asia Silver Spring, which celebrates Asian cultures with music, dance, martial arts, crafts and foods.

Cost: Free
When: May 5, 6:30 p.m.-8:30 p.m.
Where: 908 Ellsworth Dr. (Silver Spring, Md)
Online: downtownsilverspring.com

The Mexican Cultural Festival
This family-friendly event will feature traditional crafts, music and dance from Mexico with a three-story mural as the backdrop. Events include Mexican folk art, a mariachi band and “Let’s Celebrate Cinco de Mayo” on May 5Bonus: The Mexican Cultural Institute (2829 16th St. NW) will participate in the Around the World Embassy Tour on May 5 (10 a.m.-4 p.m.), when more than 40 embassies open their doors to the public.

Cost: Free

When: May 1-6, see website for times
Where: Children’s National Health System, 111 Michigan Ave., NW
Online: instituteofmexicodc.org

Cindo de MayoThon
The inaugural event was postponed to 2019, but mark your calendars now. It will include a “Micro-Marathon” in which racers compete to raise money and win prizes for going only 164 feet. The race ends at a street festival that will include activities for kids.

Online: cincodemayothon.com

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What are your family’s Cinco de Mayo plans? Tell us about them in the comments section below. 

—Stephanie Kanowitz