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Cinco de Mayo in Vancouver

Mexico in Vancouver

Cinco de Mayo isn’t an official major event in Canada, but that doesn’t stop Vancouver folk from celebrating the Mexican holiday on or around May 5th.

Many local pubs and restaurants, especially Mexican and Latin American ones, go all out with their promotions.

Vancouver Cinco de Mayo Celebrations

May 5th in 2018 takes place on a Saturday.

To give you an idea of what to expect this year, below is a list of ways Vancouver celebrates Cinco de Mayo and everything Mexican in May in Vancouver.

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Cinco de Mayo Parties for Adults

Below is a list of events for adults (ages 19+) in Metro Vancouver. (Note: Event details are subject to change. Check official websites for the most up-to-date information.)

  • Sol Fiesta Mexico – pre-Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Granville Island’s Performance Works theatre between 7:00 pm and 12:00 am on Friday, May 4th. Featured performers include Tren al Sur, Orquesta Tabasko and the Las Estrellas de Vancouver all female Mariachi band.
  • Cinco de Mayo Pub Night Cruise – Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours in New Westminster offers adults ages 19+ a three-hour cruise with Samba, Mambo, Salsa and Merengue DJ music, plus Mexican and Central American food and drink specials. The trip goes from 7 to 10 pm on May 5th.
  • Cinco de Mayo at Cuchillo – a mezcal tasting event takes place at Cuchillo’s at 261 Powell Street in Gastown at 6 pm followed by a taco and margarita fiesta starting at 7 pm on May 5th. Cost is $50-$75.
  • Cinco de Mayo Latin Cruises – the Mexican fiesta on the water runs from 7 until 11 pm on May 5th with the boat leaving from 750 Pacific Boulevard in False Creek. The cost is between around $39 to $76 and includes choice of buffet.
  • Casa de Amigos on Robson – Vancouver’s big Cinco de Mayo fiesta has taken place the last couple of years from 4 pm to 10 pm at Robson Square in downtown Vancouver for folks ages 19+. It’s a licensed event complete with Mariachi bands, folk dancers, Mexican food, cervezas, tequila and even Luchador wrestlers. Unfortunately, however, Casa de Amigos is NOT taking place in 2018.

Other Cinco de Mayo Events

In addition to parties, there is also the following Cinco de Mayo-themed running race in 2018:

  • El Gran Fiesta Run – family-friendly 1K, 5K and 10K running races around Burnaby Lake on May 5th. Cost is $10-15. Costumes are encouraged.
  • Mexican Dance Performance at Lonsdale Quay – the traditional Mexican dance group Nahualli Folklore perform at 1 o’clock on May 5th, 2018, in the Market Rotunda at North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay.

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Cinco de Mayo Kids and Families

As listed below, there are also May 5th activities for children and young families.

  • Cinco de Mayo Fiesta – family-friendly activities at Killarney Community Centre at 6260 Killarney Street in Vancouver from noon until 2 pm on May 5th. Free for KCC Members.
  • CityFest – a youth-focused festival in North Vancouver featuring live music and the region’s biggest skateboarding competition. It’s not a Mexican-themed event, granted. Rather, it’s just a great youth-focused event that happens to take place on May 5th in 2018.

What is Cinco de Mayo

Cinco de Mayo is not Mexican Independence Day – that’s on September 16th. Cinco de Mayo celebrates the day, on May 5, 1862, when the Mexican army defeated the French army at the Battle of Puebla.

Today Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Mexico (especially in the state of Puebla), extensively in the United States and to a lesser degree around the world, including here in Vancouver.

Man on a Burro at Cinco de Mayo

Latin American Restaurants

Being the cosmopolitan city that it is, Vancouver is home to lots of great Mexican and Latin American restaurants (many of which help their patrons celebrate Cinco de Mayo during the first week of May each year).

A few good Mexican establishments include the following:

  • La Mezcaleria – with locations at both 1622 Commercial Drive and 68 East Cordova (in Gastown), open Tuesday to Sunday and specializing in small batch tequilas and mezcal.
  • Las Margaritas – a restaurant in Kitsilano at 1999 West 4th Avenue that serves good Baja and California-style Mexican food.
  • The Mexican Antojitos y Cantina – at 1049 Granville Street in the heart of Vancouver’s main entertainment district.
  • Cinco De Mayo Mexican Grill – a North Vancouver restaurant located at 200 West Esplanade not far from Lonsdale Quay.

Click Latin American Restaurants for a list of other great restaurants.

Mexican Cooking at Carnaval del Sol
Mexicans Cooking at the Carnaval del Sol

For other Latin American-themed events at different times of the year, check out the following:

  • Carnaval del Sol – a major Latin American festival in Vancouver at Concord Pacific Place in early July.
  • Fiesta Mexicana – a free Mexican festival that used to take place at the Roundhouse in Yaletown at 181 Roundhouse Mews in September but, in years since 2017, Market Mexico at Robson Square.
Mexican Fiesta Mariachis
A Mariachi Band at the Fiesta Mexicana

And for other kinds of events, check out Vancouver’s Festivals and Events Calendar.