For more than 30 years, the Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association has hosted a Cinco de Mayo Fiesta that has become one of the largest multicultural celebrations in Oregon. The fiesta boasts three full days packed with festivities and culturally immersive programming at Tom McCall Waterfront Park in downtown Portland. During the event, festival-goers can experience the spirit of Mexico through music, arts, dance and sport.
Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta began in 1983, the same year Guadalajara, Mexico, became one of Portland’s nine international sister cities. As a direct result, a strong sense of cultural exchange continues to drive the activities and nonprofit collaborations of the festival.
Cinco de Mayo Fiesta Entertainment
Entertainment options at Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta abound for all ages and interests, including classic carnival rides (including Portland’s tallest Ferris wheel), snacks, traditional Mexican crafts, an artisan village and amateur boxing. The festival’s Plaza de Niños provides a safe, kid-oriented zone with free face painting (for children under 12 years old), arts and crafts (including personal piñatas filled with candy) and a comfortable seating area for parents.
Mexico’s rich musical history has birthed many genres and continues to cultivate new sounds. Accordingly, Portland’s Cinco de Mayo Fiesta organizers have continually and expertly curated acts to reflect this diversity. Mariachi Ciudad de Guadalajara flies in from the state of Jalisco to give several special performances on the festival’s main stage. Joining them is Oregon’s Ballet Folklorico Mexico en la Piel. This local Mexican folk dancing troupe fills the stage with stomping feet, spinning dresses, and costumes (each unique to a particular region of Mexico).
Amateur boxing matches have been a tradition since 2013, featuring athletes from Rip City Boxing, a local nonprofit that fosters youth through the discipline and accountability of sport.
When you’re ready to find the perfect souvenir from the Cinco de Mayo celebration, head to the festival’s Guadalajara Artisan Village. There, you will discover handcrafted works by dozens of local and international artists and makers, including many who have traveled from Guadalajara and Tonalá, Mexico to showcase their wares.
Food and Drink at the Cinco de Mayo Fiesta
Last but not least, it wouldn’t be a proper Mexican celebration without options for ample feasting! Local and family-owned food and beverage stands line the waterfront during the festival, serving up regional and traditional Mexican dishes, along with pupusas from El Salvador; empanadas and arepas from Venezuela and Colombia; cups of fresh fruit with chili and lime; elotes, chicharrones and freshly-made churros; and tacos filled with tinga, carne asada, al pastor, carnitas, lengua and more.
Beer and tequila drinks are also available for adults, along with horchatas, tejuínos and aguas frescas. And with many options for public transportation, you can feel free to indulge safely.
The Mercado is a food cart pod and also a hub of Latine culture and local entrepreneurship and may be one of the city’s most delicious destinations.
From Mexico to Nicaragua take a coffee tour of South America through the different roasts, styles, and flavors of Portland’s Latinx coffee scene.
Follow our guide to Portland's top taquerias and find a wide variety of tasty tacos — from meaty morsels to vegetarian creations — in every part of town.
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