Cinco de Mayo

Celebrate in San Francisco!

Celebrating Cinco de Mayo is a long-standing tradition in San Francisco and if you live in the Bay Area or are planning a visit in early May and love music, great food, dancing and celebrating a rich and vibrant culture, head down to Valencia Street and get ready to have a blast! This is a family-friendly, alcohol-free street party, which stretches between 21st and 24th Streets on Valencia St.

Unlike some street parties, where visitors stand in one line after another for food, beverages and other items, families are encouraged to pack picnic baskets, spread out a blanket or two and make a whole day of it, seeing, hearing and experiencing this celebration of Mexican culture. Food and drink vendors are available, of course, from some of the Bay Area’s most authentic Mexican and Central American eateries. However, many families grab lawn chairs and coolers and visit vendors for treats to complement their picnics, rather than replace them.

While they are eating and relaxing, visitors can take in the riot of colors all around them from the lovely skirts and ribbons worn by female dancers to the balloons, decorations, painted faces and other festive regalia. And there’s music! Lots and lots of music from some of the best bands in the Bay Area, playing a variety of styles from salsa, ranchera, mariachi, meringue and other styles indigenous to different parts of Mexico and Central America. In addition to dancing, music, and great food, there are also arts and crafts vendors, a Kid’s Zone, complete with petting zoo, artists, magicians and many other types of street performers all providing their unique flair to the fiesta!

The celebration runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with a main stage and smaller music venues throughout the street party. All proceeds from the festival benefit Mission Neighborhood Centers, which have supported children, seniors and families in San Francisco for more than 50 years. The event is within easy walking distance of BART and MUNI and walking or taking public transportation is strongly recommended. So if you’re looking for a fun, inexpensive and immersive celebration of Mexican traditions and culture or simply want to have a great time, head to Valencia Street in the Mission on the first Saturday in May. Caution: You may experience some fatigue from smiling, laughing and dancing.