Cinco de Mayo is an electrifying holiday that celebrates the unwavering spirit of Mexico and its people. On May 5th, different parts of the US and Mexico come together to commemorate this special day with colorful parades, lively music, and delicious Mexican cuisine. It’s a day to revel in the vibrant culture and rich heritage of Mexico, and there’s no shortage of excitement to be had.
From indulging in delectable traditional Mexican dishes to dancing to the beat of mariachi music to learning about its rich history, there are lots of fantastic Cinco de Mayo activities to do. Let the fiesta begin with these great ideas, and get ready to celebrate the spirit of Mexico like never before!
The Best Activities for Celebrating Cinco De Mayo
1. Do a Tequila Tasting
Cinco de Mayo is a time to celebrate Mexican culture and heritage, and one of the most popular ways to do so is by indulging in the country’s iconic drink – tequila.
Whether you prefer it straight or mixed into a refreshing cocktail, tequila tasting during this holiday can be a fun and exciting experience as it allows you to sample different blends and styles, from smooth and aged sippers to bold and spicy shots.
Of course, you wouldn’t want to miss out on doing the ‘Mexican tequila toast‘ while you’re at it! Arriba, Abajo, Al Centro, Y Pa’dentro!
2. Eat Tres Leches Cake
For anyone with a sweet tooth, this traditional Mexican dessert is a must-try! Tres leches cake (or three milks cake) is a kind of sponge cake soaked in a mixture of three different types of milk – evaporated milk, condensed milk, and heavy cream. This decadent cake is light and fluffy, with a tender crumb and a rich, creamy flavor that melts in your mouth.
The soaking process infuses the cake with the sweetness and richness of the milks, making it an indulgent and satisfying dessert that’s perfect for any occasion, including Cinco de Mayo.
3. Enjoy a Cerveza
There’s no better time to test some cerveza (aka: beer) yourself than during this holiday while celebrating with friends and family. And with so many Mexican beer brands out there, such as Corona, Modela, and Estrella Jalisco, you’ll surely find one that will suit your taste.
4. Find Your Favorite Margarita
Whether you prefer a classic one on the rocks, a frozen version, or a specialty flavor, a margarita is a great way to add to the festive atmosphere and celebrate the holiday in style. Usually made with tequila, lime juice, and triple sec served in a salted cocktail glass, this classic drink is a Mexican staple enjoyed by many during Cinco de Mayo celebrations.
5. Go to Happy Hour
What better way to enjoy more Mexican drinks like tequilas and margaritas than during happy hour? And Cinco de Mayo is just the perfect occasion to do so.
During this holiday, it’s not surprising for bars and restaurants to join in on the celebration by offering their very own happy hour deals (especially the Mexican restaurants!). As the time differs for each bar/restaurant, you might want to check your favorite one in advance.
6. Have a Mexican Movie Marathon
Whether you’re a die-hard cinephile or just looking for an unforgettable evening of entertainment, a Mexican movie marathon will be an adventure like no other.
Streaming platforms like Netflix, Hulu, and Amazon Prime Video offer a treasure trove of Mexican films, from drama films like Roma to narc/crime films like Hell (El Infierno) and many more. So cue up the popcorn, settle in, and get ready to be swept away by the electrifying world of Mexican cinema!
7. Head Out to a Mexican Restaurant
Looking for more time to enjoy the holiday without worrying about cooking meals? Then eating out at a Mexican restaurant will be the perfect one-two combination for you.
If you’re living in the US (and depending on which state you’re in) you’ll have tons of options to choose from, such as Barrio Cafe, Cosme, and Guelaguetza, to name a few. Additionally, many Mexican restaurants will offer live music, dancing, and other festivities to create a lively atmosphere for your dining experience.
8. Hit a Pinata
Hitting a piñata is a traditional and fun activity during Cinco de Mayo. The colorful and festive papier-mâché figures, filled with sweets and small toys, are hung high and participants take turns blindfolded, trying to hit it with a stick until it breaks open and the treats spill out. The game is enjoyed by both children and adults, making it a perfect activity for families and friends to participate in.
9. Learn About Famous Mexican Artists (Frida)
Mexico’s art scene is as vibrant as its culture and history, and it’s no wonder it has its fair share of talent recognized worldwide whose lives and works are worth learning about.
One such figure is Frida Kahlo, a Mexican painter known for her bold use of color, imaginative imagery, and powerful emotional depth in her paintings. Born in 1907, Kahlo’s work reflects her life experiences, including her struggles with physical pain, her Mexican heritage, and her relationship with her husband, Diego Rivera, who is also a famous Mexican muralist/painter himself.
Today, Kahlo is celebrated as a feminist icon, and her works are considered some of the most important examples of Mexican folk art.
10. Learn the History of Cinco de Mayo
Often confused with Mexican Independence Day (which is held every September 16,) Cinco de Mayo, or the 5th of May, is a Mexican holiday that celebrates the Mexican army’s victory against the French at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. The battle was a crucial moment in Mexico’s struggle for independence from France and is considered a symbol of Mexican unity and patriotism.
Although Cinco de Mayo is not a national holiday in Mexico, it is widely celebrated in the United States as a way to honor Mexican heritage and culture. Today, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated with traditional Mexican music, dance, food, and other cultural activities, and is a time for people to come together and celebrate Mexican heritage and pride.
You can also watch reenactments of the Battle of Puebla at none other than the state of Puebla itself, where you’ll get a better understanding about the history of Cinco de Mayo.
11. List to a Mariachi Band
Listening to a mariachi band during Cinco de Mayo is a lively idea and festive way to celebrate the holiday. Mariachi, a type of Mexican folk music with soulful ballads and upbeat melodies, is played on instruments such as guitars, violins, and trumpets by at least four musicians in traditional sombrero and charro outfits.
On Cinco de Mayo, many Mexican restaurants and cultural events feature live mariachi performances, creating a lively and celebratory atmosphere where everyone can join in.
12. Listen to Authentic Mexican Music
Mexican music is diverse and encompasses a range of styles, from the upbeat rhythms of mariachi and ranchera to the soulful ballads of bolero and the traditional sounds of Son Jarocho. Listening to live performances of these musical genres is a great way to experience the energy and passion of Mexican culture, making it a memorable and festive aspect of Cinco de Mayo.
13. Make Some Flan
Make your Cinco de Mayo celebration sweeter by making your very own flan. This sweet and creamy dessert is not only a great way to finish a meal and celebrate the holiday with loved ones, but is also easy to prepare and make.
It is usually made with simple ingredients such as eggs, milk, sugar, and vanilla extract, which is then baked in a caramel-lined dish and chilled until firm. The flan is then inverted onto a plate so that the caramel forms a sauce on top.
If you want to make your own, Spanish Sabores has a delish authentic flan recipe for you to try.
14. Make Papel Picado Banners
Show your creative side and dive right into some Mexican folk art by making your very own papel picado (perforated paper) banners! These colorful and festive decorations are often used during holidays and special occasions, made from tissue paper, and are hand-cut into intricate designs, such as flowers, stars, and other symbols.
Making papel picado banners is a fun and easy activity that can involve the whole family. Ohoh Deco shows you how to simply make DIY papel picado.
15. Make Tacos
If you’re a fan of Taco Tuesday (or even Mexican cuisine,) then Cinco de Mayo is just another reason to whip up some delicious tacos! Not only is it a way for people to come together and enjoy the flavors and traditions of Mexican culture, but it can also be easily customized to suit everyone’s tastes.
16. Play Pin the Sombrero on the Burro
Pin the Tail on the Donkey is a popular party game, often played during Cinco de Mayo celebrations. It’s just like “Pin the Tail on the Donkey” game, but with a Mexican twist.
A picture of a burro (donkey) is displayed on a wall, and participants take turns being blindfolded and attempting to place a tail on the burro’s behind. The player who gets closest to the correct spot wins.
You can buy a cute set here: Zonon’s Pin the Tail on the Donkey
17. Shake Some Maracas
Shaking maracas is a fun and interactive way to participate in the celebration and experience a piece of Mexican culture, especially during holidays like Cinco de Mayo. You don’t even need a musical background to play one, just let loose and sha–sha–shake away into the beat of any lively rhythm!
If you’re good with arts and crafts, you can even turn this into a fun family activity (especially if you have kids) by making your very own homemade maracas beforehand. Or just buy some: Fun Express Wooden Maracas.
18. Start Checking Off the Mexican Food Bucket List
Celebrating a holiday like Cinco de Mayo is never complete without its many classic Mexican dishes, so it is also the perfect time to start checking things off your Mexican Food bucket list!
From tacos to mole to tamales, there are plenty of tastes to explore and munch on, not to mention you’ll be making your taste buds and stomach happier and bigger on each bite. How many of these dishes can you check off?
19. Start Spanish Lessons
One of the best ways to have a better understanding about Cinco de Mayo and Mexican culture is by learning the language itself. As one of the most widely spoken languages in the world, learning Spanish can open up a world of opportunities and enrich your life in many ways.
It can help you connect with the vibrant Spanish-speaking communities during your travels or appreciate a piece of Spanish literature in its original form, whose meaning is sometimes lost when being translated to a different language. Regardless of what your reasons may be, learning Spanish is a valuable and rewarding investment worth pursuing.
20. Take a Mexican Dance Lesson
Mexican dance is an important part of Mexican history and has roots in indigenous and Spanish traditions. By learning a Mexican dance, you can immerse yourself in the culture and get a taste of Mexico’s rich musical and dance heritage.
There are many different Mexican dance styles to choose from, such as the lively salsa to the traditional Jarabe Tapatio. Whether you choose to learn a dance on your own or in a group setting, taking the time to learn a Mexican dance is a great way to honor their culture and have a good time.
21. Wear a Sombrero for the Day
The sombrero is a wide-brimmed hat that is often associated with Mexico and is a symbol of pride for many Mexicans. Wearing a sombrero during Cinco de Mayo is a way to show appreciation for Mexican history and culture, and it is also a way to join the fun and participate in the festivities.
However, it is also important to understand the cultural significance of the sombrero and to wear it with the right intentions and at the right occasion to avoid offending anyone.
22. Whip Up Some Guacamole
Fresh, homemade guacamole is a tasty and easy way to add some Mexican flair to your Cinco de Mayo celebration. This avocado-based dish is usually made with ripe avocados, lime juice, salt, diced tomatoes, chopped onion, minced garlic, and cilantro (optional).
The avocados are mashed in a mortar and pestle and mixed with other ingredients and can be made as chunky or smooth as you like. It is best served with tortilla chips or used as a topping for tacos, burritos, or other Mexican dishes.
PS: Down Shiftology has the best ever guacamole recipe for you to try.
Whether you’re celebrating by taking part in a parade, enjoying some traditional Mexican food, or dancing to lively music, there are countless Cinco de Mayo activities and ideas you can do to embrace the spirit of this special holiday.
Let’s come together with pride and joy to commemorate this day and to experience all the excitement that Cinco de Mayo has to offer. Arriba, arriba! Viva Mexico!