In mid-September Vancouver’s Mexican community hosts its free Market Mexico event with Mexican food, music and market vendors at Robson Square.
NOTE: To the best of our knowledge Mexico Fest and Market Mexico did not place in 2019. Whether they ever happen again is to be determined.
Vancouver’s Market Mexico
Día de la Independencia is a Mexican national holiday on September 16th that commemorates Mexico’s independence from Spain.
To celebrate, in past years there has been the family-friendly Fiesta Mexicana at the Roundhouse in Yaletown on a weekend in mid-September. Since last year, however, instead of the Fiesta Mexicana, Vancouver celebrates with the Market Mexico event at Robson Square.
Market Mexico in Vancouver
In 2018 Market Mexico was on Saturday, September 15, from 11:30 am until 8:00 pm. The event may or may not be taking place again in future years.
In the past the event has usually taken place at Robson Square at the corner of Robson Street and Howe by the Vancouver Art Gallery. It features dozens of Mexican-themed market vendors, food stalls and live entertainment.
Market Mexico is a hugely popular event attracting thousands of people. The majority of attendees are Mexicans, people with close Mexican connections and, to a lesser but still significant degree, Latinos from other countries.
Expect to hear lots of Spanish talking and festive music, see colourful items for sale in the market, and smell tasty smells! People from all ethnic backgrounds attend, and all are welcome!
Market Mexico, and the Fiesta Mexicana in previous years, is a celebration of Mexican culture as well as the country’s Independence Day, which takes place each year on September 16th. This is why the event, in whatever its form, always takes place on a weekend in mid-September.
Market Event Activities
At Market Mexico the underground ice rink area at Robson Square is full of people and vendors selling authentic Mexican foods. There are handmade Mexican ice creams and popsicles for sale, as well as tacos, tortas and all kinds of tasty treats.
Also at Market Mexico there are vendors selling ponchos, sombreros, piñatas, bracelets and all kinds of other Mexican goods. A cantina sells adult beverages including tequila and mescal, and non-alcoholic drinks like horchata (a rice beverage) and aquas frescas (fruit juices) are also available at various locations.
The event feels like a real Mexican market! There are thousands of people of all ages and the atmosphere was wonderfully festive.
Market Mexico Entertainment
Mexican music plays all day at Market Mexico and a number of Mexican films are sometimes also shown.
One of the highlights of the day last year was the concert by Mariachi Los Dorados in the early evening. The group is a traditional Mexican Mariachi band based in Vancouver and they are very good. During their performance the steps leading up to the Vancouver Art Gallery were absolutely packed. Every inch of space all around was filled with people watching, cheering and having a wonderful time.
Tips & Advice
The following is a list of tips and general information that will help you make the most out of your visit to Market Mexico:
TIP #1: Robson Square is a fairly large venue. However, a lot of Mexicans live in the Lower Mainland and this is a popular event, so the place fills up! Expect the area to be insanely crowded for most of the day, but especially so starting in the late afternoon.
TIP #2: If you don’t like large crowds, get there at the beginning before it gets really busy. Just before lunch time is also a good time to check out all the food.
TIP #3: Be prepared to stand in long lines for the most popular food vendors, and for the cantina (a.k.a. the indoor beer garden).
TIP #4: Be sure to sample the foods and drinks. At similar street-style markets in Mexico (as opposed to fancier restaurants) tourists run the risk of getting Montezuma’s Revenge (i.e., an upset stomach). At Vancouver’s Market Mexico, however, you can sample authentic Mexican street food and still enjoy the rest of your weekend!
TIP #5: Some of our favourite food items at Market Mexico are the tacos, tortas (i.e., Mexican sandwiches in a bun) and horchata (i.e., a delicious rice beverage with a light cinnamon flavour).
TIP #6: If you want a good view of the Mariachi performance, start looking for a spot to watch from a half hour or more before the show (which in 2017 began shortly after 6:15 pm). The best place to watch from is somewhere on the lower steps in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery, or from a place behind a railing from up above. Most people stand for the show, so take that into consideration when choosing your spot.
For more information about the event click Market Mexico.
For details about past Mexican events in Vancouver in September, click Fiesta Mexicana.
And for a list of other major events in the Lower Mainland throughout the year, see the Festivals & Events Calendar. Here you’ll find links to details about dozens of festivals each month, including Cinco de Mayo which is the Mexican community’s other major annual day of festivities that’s celebrated in Vancouver in May.
For a list of places to find Mexican food in the Lower Mainland, see our article about Latin American Restaurants.