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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 2020 takes place on a Tuesday. A few Mexican-themed events scheduled for the weekend in 2020 include the following:

  • Cinco De Mayo at TLCC – family-friendly Cinco de Mayo activities take place on May 5th at the Trout Lake Community Centre between noon and 3:00 pm. Admission is free but advanced registration is recommended. (2020 details to be confirmed.)
  • Sol Fiesta Mexico – pre-Cinco de Mayo celebrations at the Harbour Events Centre (750 Pacific Blvd) between 9:30 am and 3:00 am. Featured performers last year included Balam Kiel and Mariachi los Dorados. Tickets were between $20 and $25 (plus fees) in advance or $30 at the door. (2020 details to be confirmed.)
  • Cinco de Mayo Pub Night Cruise – Paddlewheeler Riverboat Tours in New Westminster offered 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 went from 7:00 to 10:00 pm on May 3rd, 2019. (2020 details to be confirmed.)
  • Cinco de Mayo Latin Cruises – the Mexican fiesta on the water ran from 7:00 until 11:00 pm on May 4th, 2019 with the boat leaving from 750 Pacific Boulevard in False Creek. The cost was between around $39 and $82 and included a choice of either a light or full buffet. (2020 details to be confirmed.)

Free May Events in Vancouver

Some other events that took place on the May 5th weekend in 2019 (but that aren’t Mexican or Cinco de Mayo-related included the following). 2020 details to be confirmed:

  • Chilliwack Food Truck Festival – a food truck event at Chilliwack Heritage Park at 44140 Luckakuck Way on May 4th, 2019.
  • 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 4th in 2019.
  • BC Cider Festival – a cider-sampling event at the Pipe Shop in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale District (May 5th, 2019).
  • BMO Marathon – a major running event in Vancouver on May 5th, 2019.

In past years there was also a big Mexican-themed event at Robson Square. To our knowledge 2017 was its last year and it no longer takes place.

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 5th, 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.

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

Mexican Cooking at Carnaval del Sol
Chefs 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, as Market Mexico at Robson Square.
Mexican Fiesta Mariachis
A Mariachi Band at the Fiesta Mexicana

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