Cinco de Mayo is upon us and with the rich cultural heritage in the Bay Area, we know how to do it right. Though the date commemorates a significant battle in Mexican history (the battle of Puebla) in the United States the holiday has evolved to be a reverence for all of Mexican culture and often extends to the days surrounding May 5. We’ve chosen our favorite fiestas for you and your family to get in on the fun. Read on for the scoop.

photo courtesy of Mission Neighborhood

1. Mission Neighborhood Center’s Cinco de Mayo Festival

This  annual SF-based festival is alcohol-free and as family-friendly as they come. Showcasing the best of Mexican and Latin American cultures with a diverse array of foods, music and dance, the big highlight is the Kid’s Zone. Balloon fun, art activities, a musical, petting zoo, special guests, magic tricks and more.

Date & Time: May 6, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.
Location: Valencia St. between 21st and 24th
Cost: Free

photo courtesy of Mission Neighborhood

2. Piedmont Language School’s Cinco de Mayo Celebration

Now in it’s sixth year, this party represents Piedmont Language School’s dedication to the Mexican and Latin American cultures with kids’ craft tables, all-you-can-eat taco truck, churros, entertainment and games for kids. Enter the raffle drawing to win great prizes including gift certificates from local businesses and restaurants. Bonus: the proceeds help boost language and cultural education in Piedmont schools and the community.

Date & Time: Thurs., May 4, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Location: Piedmont Community Hall, 711 Highland Ave. Oakland
Cost: $30/adults; $10/children 11 and under; $60/family of five

3. San Jose Taco Festival

San Jose is home to one of the largest Cinco de Mayo bashes in the country. This year they are celebrating with a more than 30 of the best taco food trucks in the Bay Area, live music, dancing, arts and crafts, fun activities for kids and more. (We know, we had you at tacos).

Date & Time: Friday, May 5, noon-10 p.m.
Location: Santa Clara County Fairgrounds, 344 Tully Rd., San Jose
Cost: $25/person; children 6 and under are free (note that admission does not include food)

photo courtesy of 23rd Street Merchants

4. Richmond Cinco De Mayo Parade & Festival

Celebrate Mexican culture and enjoy three music stages, dancing horses, jumpers, giveaways, food, exhibits and much more along a mile-long stretch in downtown Richmond, hosted by the 23rd Street Merchant’s Association.

Date & Time: Sun., May 7, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.
Location: One-mile stretch of 23rd St., Richmond
Cost: Free

photo courtesy of Hola Run

5. Cinco de Mayo Family 5K & Kids Fun Walk.

If you want to burn off those extra tacos and margaritas head over to the 4th Annual Hola Run in San Jose. Runners will be treated to live entertainment, dancers, shirts, medals for everyone and prizes after the race. Local radio stations and DJs will be at the start line, on the course and at the finish line fiesta. The first 1,000 registrants (sign up here) receive one free child ticket to Monterey Bay Aquarium or one free ticket to the Children´s Discovery Museum of San José.

Note: Packet pick-up is Fri., May 5, noon-7 p.m. at Chavez Supermarket Monterey Store, 2670 Monterey Rd., San Jose

Date & Time: Sat., May 6, 9 a.m. Kid’s fun run (First Five Potter Run) at 10:05 a.m.
Location: Discovery Meadows, San Jose
Cost: $30/adult; $15/child

photo: Steve Rhodes via flickr 

6. Cinco de Mayo Dance & Mural Tours

Take the kiddos on a unique tour of the historic murals along the Mission District’s 24th Street corridor: Baile en la Calle: The Mural Dances brings the characters and stories of the murals to life through performances by local choreographers and dance troupes. Precita Eyes Muralists docents also help interpret. We promise you will never look at these murals in the same way again.

Date & Time: Sun., May 7 at 11 a.m., noon, 1 p.m. & 2 p.m.
Location: Tours begin at the corner of 24th & Folsom (in front of Philz coffee)
Cost: Free (donations welcome)


Mangonada via Yelp by Edu U

Local’s Secret: Nieves Cinco de Mayo

Okay this one isn’t a specific celebration, unless you count the party in your mouth. This shop’s must try is the Mangonada, a frozen Mexican treat that is made of mango ice cream, chopped mangos and a mix of chili spices and tamarind candy. They also serve several kid friendly fruit flavors. Stop by their Oakland (3340 E 12th St, Oakland) or San Francisco (2590 Mission St., San Francisco) shop during or after the festivals.

Are you planning to attend any local Cinco celebrations? Tell us which one in the comments below! 


—Sonia Gandiaga

featured photo: Jayeeta via flickr