How Boulder Does Cinco de Mayo

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Cinco de Mayo is one of those celebrations that not a lot of people actually understand the reason for. We think it’s important to understand what we’re celebrating.

Cinco de Mayo is the celebration of the Mexican defeat of the French during the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862, during the Franco-Mexican War. Napoleon III wanted to conquer Mexico and incorporate it into part of his empire. While it wasn’t a major battle, the Mexican forces’ unlikely victory bolstered the spirits of those resisting the French.

History lesson over.

Nowadays, Cinco de Mayo is a relatively small holiday in Mexico. It’s not a federal holiday and is mostly celebrated in Puebla, where the battle took place.

In the US, however, we love any reason to celebrate. This holiday has become more of a celebration of Mexican culture than the victory itself. While it is most strongly celebrated by Mexican-Americans, it is also used as a way to show appreciation to our Mexican friends and family, and give a shout-out to their cultural roots.

Whatever reason you’re celebrating Cinco de Mayo — for the victory, for the culture or for the margaritas —you’ll be able to find a party in Boulder.

Here are our go-to ways to celebrate Cinco de Mayo.

Food Lab. Courtesy photo

Food Lab

The Food Lab is a great way to enjoy some amazing food while learning how to prepare it at home. This year, it is teaching a New Mexico-themed class on May 4, and “Cinco de Taco,” a Cinco de Mayo themed taco celebration, on May 5. Learn to make red and green chili and rellenos on the 4th; make three types of tacos as well as homemade tortillas and pineapple salsa on the fifth.

A past year’s Picnic of the Pig. Courtesy photo

Centro and Lola

Centro and Lola are sister restaurants, and both are hosting great Cinco de Mayo festivities this year. Lola’s 10th Picnic of the Pig street party will be held 12-8 p.m. on 15th Street in Denver, which will close for the celebration. Features include face painting for the kiddos, live music, luchadors, food and drink. Admission is free; food and drink are a cost. Centro will also be celebrating, with Chef Johnny running the grill, street corn, specialty tacos and Pibil Pork Platters. They will also feature a DJ playing reggae from 1-5 p.m. and $5 drink specials.

Cinco de Vino

While only related in its name, this event is worth attending. The I Have A Dream Foundation of Boulder County is hosting a cork pull event to raise money and awareness for impoverished families, particularly children, in our communities. Buy a surprise bottle of wine and pick your prize from the wrapped bottle options. It’s a fun way to support a good cause while trying a wine you may have never picked before. The event also features an open bar and light food, as well as entertainment.

Food and drink at Bartaco. Photo by Tom McGovern

Food and Drink Specials Around Town

If you don’t feel like an all-out celebration and you just want some cheap margs and delicious tacos, that’s fine, too. Many Boulder restaurants are running food and drink specials for Cinco de Mayo.

Take advantage of:

  • all-day happy hour at Tahona
  • live music 1-4 p.m. and a DJ 5-9 p.m. at Bartaco, as well as surprise giveaways
  • craft Mexican beer and a Suerte Blanco shots for $7, as well as Suerte giveaways from 4-9 p.m. at McDevitt Taco
  • and a 2-6p.m. happy hour at T/aco.
A competitor in the Chihuahua Races. Courtesy photo

Cinco de Mayo “Celebrate Culture” Festival

More than 20 percent of Colorado’s population is Hispanic, which means that Mexican culture is not new here. But we rarely see big festivals celebrating Mexican heritage.

That doesn’t stop Denver from putting on its yearly Cinco de Mayo Celebrate Culture Festival, May 5-6 at Civic Center Park. Find chihuahua races, a taco-eating contest and a two-day low-rider car show along ColfaxAvenuee. There is also a parade, multiple music and dance shows, food, fitness and more at this free event.

Dancers at the Longmont Celebrates Cinco de Mayo Festival. Courtesy photo

Longmont Celebrates Cinco de Mayo

This year marks the 16th-annual celebration of Cinco de Mayo just northeast of Boulder, in Longmont. This event offers music, food, vendors selling jewelry, clothing and more, family-friendly activities and a car show. But what we’re most excited for? The chihuahua beauty contest. This free event takes place at Roosevelt Park from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. May 5.

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