Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

This post has been fully updated for 2015!

Cinco de Mayo

Portland’s Waterfront on a sunny day in May

What’s the first thing most people think of when they hear Portland, Oregon? Rain, of course. And we do get our share plus a little, but we often have some lovely spring weather. The past two years, we’ve had warm sunny weather at the beginning of May, and we’re hoping for more for this year’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta along Portland’s beautiful waterfront!

One of the vendors at the shopping "village"

One of the vendors at the shopping “village”

The 5th of May is an important historical day in Mexico as it commemorates the victory of Mexican forces over the French in the Franco-Mexican war. It’s not a super popular holiday in Mexico, but here in the US it’s become a holiday celebrating Mexican American culture and heritage.

Cinco de Mayo

Guadalajara sister city dancers

Culture is the focus of Portland’s Cinco de Mayo fiesta, sponsored by the Portland-Guadalajara Sister City Association. Dancers from Mexico, both mariachi and ballet, will be performing on Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday. Many bands will be featured over the weekend — from salsa to Selena. Full details on the bands is available HERE. Artists from Guadalajara will showcase their work in the artisan’s village. And Lucha Libre bouts will be held.

Never heard of Lucha Libre? Neither had I until the picture book Niño Wrestles the World won several awards (see author Yuyi Morales read the book here), but it sounds pretty entertaining. Here’s a description of Lucha Libre from the Cinco de Mayo Festival website: Lucha Libre, or Mexican Masked Wrestling is an extremely influential and popular form of acrobatic wrestling that has been touted as the origin of the WWE and even masked super heroes. Luchadores hold a mythical place in Mexican Culture as the tradition of masked wrestlers dates back to Aztec times. For luchadores, their masks are their identities in the ring. When a luchador is unmasked in battle, it marks the end of a career and the end of their character.

Interested in getting in on a World Record attempt for the Largest Gathering of People Wearing Sombreros? The world record attempt is sponsored by Providence Hospital and will take place on Saturday, May 2nd at 6pm in the food court area. The festival organizers hope to smash the previous record of 1008 sombreros by having at least 1025 amigos participate. If you are interested in participating, all you need to do is come down to the waterfront on Saturday, May 2 before 5:30pm. Sombreros will be provided! Event lasts about a half hour.

Runners might want to participate in the Cinco de Mayo 2015 10K or 5K Run on May 3. Get all the details via PDX Pipeline.

A naturalization ceremony for new US citizens will be held on May 5th at 1pm in the main tent. New citizens from many countries will participate in the ceremony followed by a reception.

Cinco de Mayo

It was hot so we needed some refreshing snacks

Of course it wouldn’t be a proper festival without lots of tasty Mexican food and a beer/margarita garden! We enjoyed several different tasty treats there. All in the name of research, of course!

The 2015 fiesta will be running Saturday, Sunday and Tuesday, May 2-5 (closed Monday) 11am-11pm. It is a fun way to spend a spring afternoon or evening and a great chance to experience some authentic Mexican music, dancing, and art. Entry to the festival: Adults — $8.00; Children 6 yrs to 12 yrs — $4.00; Seniors 62 yrs and older — $4.00; Children 6 yrs and under — FREE. Wristband for unlimited rides costs $35 through Portland Perks.

Do you celebrate Cinco de Mayo? Let us know how in the comments. Y disfruten de su semana o su fin de semana!

P.S. Monday is May 4th, otherwise known as Star Wars Day. One year we were at the festival on the 4th, and we saw Darth Vader riding his unicycle on the waterfront (in a kilt, no less) and playing the Star Wars theme on the bagpipes. Keep Portland weird, baby. And may the fourth be with you!

Star Wars

May the Fourth Be With You – Keepin’ Portland Weird


8 thoughts on “Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta

  1. Nice post guys! I recently wrote about Puebla where the May 5th victory over the diarrhea-stricken French took place. Many have forgotten that the French actually came back the next year with reinforcements (with no more diarrhea) and won. They actually ruled Puebla for about the next 5 years. But the Mexicans love their Cinco de Mayo and it’s really great that they celebrate it like that in Portland (nothing of the sort here in Montreal which is a real shame).
    Frank (bbqboy)

    • You should start a Cinco de Mayo festival up there in Montreal, Frank! The people of Montreal (and the makers of Doq Equis) would thank you! Thanks for stopping by to say hey!

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