If you ever needed an excuse to indulge in too many tacos and margaritas (btw, there’s no such thing), Cinco de Mayo is it.
If you’re thinking about cycling through grapevines in Sonoma Valley, discovering Portland’s sea-swept scenery or eating your way through Oaxaca's markets this May, why not combine your Intrepid trip with Cinco de Mayo. Cinco de Mayo marks Mexico’s victory over the French army in 1862, and has evolved into a vibrant celebration of Mexican heritage and culture – both in Mexico and in the United States. From tucking into mouthwatering food and swinging your hips to mariachi, to experiencing a grito (shouting) contest and watching dancers perform the Mexican hat dance, Cinco de Mayo could be the perfect addition to your Intrepid tour.
What is Cinco de Mayo?
Cinco de Mayo (meaning “fifth of May” in Spanish) is an annual festival celebrated on 5 May. Not to be confused with Mexican Independence Day on 16 September, Cinco de Mayo marks the day when an army of 4,000 Mexican soldiers, led by General Ignacio Zaragoza, defeated the French Empire in the Battle of Puebla in Puebla, Mexico. It changed the course of the Mexico-Franco war, and was also a really great morale boost for the Mexicans who were a much smaller and less equipped army than the French.
You might assume Mexico is where you'll find the biggest and boldest Cinco de Mayo celebrations. While Puebla observes it as a national holiday with colourful parades, it's also a huge deal in the United States with street festivals and parties and parades galore. So, why is Cinco de Mayo so big in the States? As well as commemorating the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Puebla, Mexican Americans started observing Cinco de Mayo in California in the 1860s to commemorate the acts of resistance and the resilience of Mexican people in the Mexican-American War. Over the years, it has become an all-encompassing celebration of Mexican culture.
How is Cinco de Mayo celebrated?
Expect vibrant parades, delicious smells of sizzling tacos and quesadillas wafting through the streets and plenty of tequila-inspired cocktails to quench your thirst. You might also get to watch traditional sport and entertainment like lucha libre (Mexican wrestling) or a grito contest where people take turns to shout loudly for as long as they can to honour the shouting that was said to have started the Mexican Revolution in 1810. The streets come alive with colourful decor, mariachi music and dancers swathed in full length, rippled skirts that twirl into the air as their partner spins them around. It's safe to say the energy on Cinco de Mayo is addictive.
Where to celebrate Cinco de Mayo 2022
The best place to celebrate Cinco de Mayo is in Puebla, Mexico where the historic battle took place. You'll get to experience an intense reenactment of the Battle of Puebla, followed by a lively parade featuring floats, mariachi bands and dancers, and street parties brimming with delicious food, dancing and more music (it never stops, really!).
If you're staying in the United States, you'll find the best fiestas near the Mexican border in places like San Francisco and San Diego, or cities that have big Mexican and Mexican-American populations like Chicago, Denver, Portland and St. Paul. If you want to go all out, get yourself down to Los Angeles for Fiesta Broadway, the biggest Cinco de Mayo celebration in the world.
Highlights of Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo FAQs
Trips on or before 31 December 2022
If your Intrepid trip starts on or before 31 December 2022, you must provide proof of full vaccination against COVID-19.
If you are unable to be vaccinated for medical reasons, you may apply for an exemption. Exemptions will be assessed on a case-by-case basis. To apply, you must provide a medical certificate from a medical professional.
Children under 18 are exempt. Children aged between 5 and 17 years old must provide proof of either vaccination, recovery or a negative COVID-19 test.
Trips from 1 January 2023 onwards
From 1 January 2023, Intrepid will no longer require travellers to provide proof of vaccination against COVID-19 (excluding all Polar trips and select adventure cruises).
However, we continue to strongly recommend that all Intrepid travellers and leaders get vaccinated to protect themselves and others.
Specific proof of testing or vaccination may still be required by your destination or airline. Please ensure you check travel and entry requirements carefully.
In Spanish, Cinco de Mayo means "fifth of May", and it is celebrated on 5 May every year.
Cinco de Mayo celebrations are completely free to attend, but you’ll need some cash if you want to eat delicious tacos or quesadillas, or drink a cheeky tequila (or two).
Most Cinco de Mayo parties are all-day events (that usually roll well into the night), so wear a comfy pair of shoes that you can walk (and dance) in. Many US states are warm in May with average daytime highs ranging between 65 and 80°F (18-27°C) depending on where you are in the state, so a pair of jeans or shorts, a dress, a shirt or t-shirt should be fine. You'll also need a sweater or fleece for the evening when the temperature drops.
In Mexico, daily temperatures hover between 74-79°F (23-26°C) with mild evenings that rarely dip below 50°F (10°C). Bring light layers for the day and a warm jumper to pop on if you get chilly in the evening.
Intrepid is committed to making travel widely accessible, regardless of ability or disability. That’s why we do our best to help as many people see the world as possible, regardless of any physical or mental limitations they might have. We’re always happy to talk to travellers with disabilities and see if we can help guide them towards the most suitable itinerary for their needs and where possible, make reasonable adjustments to our itineraries.