Ballet Folklórico de San Juan Capistrano performs at Fiesta de Mayo Celebration. Photo courtesy of San Clemente Outlets
Ballet Folklórico de San Juan Capistrano performs at Fiesta de Mayo Celebration. Photo courtesy of San Clemente Outlets

Free Cinco de Mayo Celebrations that Are Great for Families

First let's set the record straight: Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day. What the day actually celebrates is an underdog Mexican victory over a French military attack on Puebla, Mexico in 1862. The holiday is mostly observed in Puebla and in Southern California, where there's little mention of the French, but much swinging at piñatas and dancing to mariachis. After all, by the first weekend of May, who needs more excuse than that to revel in the sunshine? Many of the Cinco de Mayo events you'll see advertised are pub crawls, but we've hunted down celebrations the whole family can enjoy.

There are free Cinco de Mayo fests throughout LA and the OC, starting as early as a week before, so get in the spirit to dance, watch parades, and (of course) eat.

Fiesta Broadway
1st Street & Broadway
Los Angeles, CA 90012

El Pueblo de Los Angeles Historic Monument
125 Paseo de la Plaza
Los Angeles, CA 90012

Barnes Park Amphitheater
350 S. McPherrin Ave.
Monterey Park, CA 91754

Cahuenga Branch Library
4591 Santa Monica Boulevard
Los Angeles, CA 90029

LA Plaza de Cultura y Artes
501 N. Main St.
Los Angeles, CA 90012

South El Monte Community Center
1530 Central Avenue
South El Monte, CA 91733

The Citadel
100 Citadel Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90040

Carson Park
21411 Orrick Ave
Carson, CA

Mas Fukai Park
15800 Brighton Ave
Gardena, CA

Max Berg Plaza Park
1100 Calle Puente
San Clemente, CA 92672

Outlets at San Clemente
101 West Avenida Vista Hermosa
San Clemente , CA 92672

La Palma Park
1151 N La Palma Pkwy
Anaheim, CA 92801

Oakwood Recreation and Park
767 California Avenue
Venice, CA 90291

Mar Vista Farmers' Market
Grand View Ave. and Venice Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90066

Museum of Latin American Art
628 Alamitos Avenue Sculpture Garden & Viva Events Center
Long Beach, CA 90802
Picnic at the Mission
Mission San Juan Capistrano - 9:00 AM Pick
Sawdust Art & Craft Festival
Sawdust Art Festival - 10:00 AM Pick
Taste of Calico
Knott's Berry Farm - 12:00 PM Pick
Marina del Rey WaterBus
various boarding locations, including Burton Chace Park - 1:00 PM Pick
Evening Hike on Hicks Haul Road
Irvine Ranch Natural Landmarks - 6:00 PM Pick
Neighborhood Guides
Activity Guides