Cinco de Mayo in Balboa Park

Cinco de Mayo in Balboa Park

Cinco de Mayo Celebration in Balboa Park
May 5, Saturday, 11:00am–6:00pm

People of all ages are invited to experience one of the region’s largest free Cinco de Mayo events at the first annual Cinco de Mayo Celebration in Balboa Park, featuring Mexican-themed music and dance performances, colorful horseback riders, strolling mariachis, hands-on activity booths for kids, arts and crafts vendors, food trucks, and more!

The popular local ballet folklórico group, La Fiesta Danzantes de San Diego, will kick off the day’s entertainment in the Plaza de Panama at 11:20 a.m., followed by a horseback procession at 12 noon from Escaramuza Charra las Golondrinas and Asociación Charros Herencia Charra.

Additional entertainment in the Plaza is provided by the City Heights Mariachi, Pacific Beat, and the San Diego State University Marching Aztecs Drumline, who will lead festival-goers from the Plaza de Panama to the free concert event featuring Jarabe Mexicano, accompanied by the SDSU School of Music Percussion Ensemble, at the Spreckels Organ Pavilion starting at 5:00 p.m. Jarabe Mexicano will perform their unique, up-tempo style of music, using traditional guitar-like instruments, such as the guitarrón, vihuela, and requinto.


Other highlights of the day include a special fashion showcase of regional styles of dress from Mexico, and Huichol artisans from Nayarit, Mexico, demonstrating various traditional art techniques and a hands-on bracelet-making activity, sponsored by the Mexican Consulate. Additional activity booths will be hosted by XEWT Channel 12, Spanish Village Art Center, San Diego Public Library, the San Diego County Fair, and many others (see list below). The Fab Trailers vintage photo booth will be on hand to help attendees commemorate the special day.

A variety of cuisines from some of San Diego’s best food trucks will also be available throughout the day on the El Prado walkway. In addition, the Prado Restaurant will serve street tacos, margaritas, and cerveza on their Garden Terrace 12:30 p.m.–5:00 p.m., and Panama 66 will offer food specials and Baja beers and wine 10:00 a.m.–10:00 p.m.

Visitors arriving by car should plan to park in the Inspiration Point parking lot at the corner of Park Blvd. and President’s Way and ride the free tram, which runs 9:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., into the park. Attendees can avoid traffic and parking hassles altogether by using Lyft, our official ridesharing partner, to request an affordable ride in minutes. All Lyft app users can receive 20% off (up to $3) one ride to or from Balboa Park with code BPCINCO on May 5, 9:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Discount applies to fare and Prime Time charges only. (Limited quantity available. Cannot be combined with other ride credit or offers.) Families can also take advantage of MTS Family Weekends, which allows two children 12 and under per each paying adult to ride the bus and trolley for free on Saturdays and Sundays. To plan your trip, visit

Schedule of Performances

11:20 am La Fiesta Danzantes de San Diego: A 20-minute ballet folklórico performance in the Plaza de Panama of the popular community-based dance group, under the direction of Maestra Yolanda Chacon Beniquez.
11:45 am City Heights Mariachi: Performance in the Plaza de Panama before accompanying the horseback procession at 12 noon. Founded in 2010, CHMS is a program of the Youth Philharmonic Symphony.
12 noon Equestrian Procession: Four traditionally attired horseback riders from the Escaramuza Charra las Golondrinas, led by its queen, Kasandra Trujillo, and Asociación Charros Herencia Charra travel from the Botanical Building into the Plaza de Panama. The procession will be led by floreador Miguel Jr Bautista performing rope tricks.
1 pm Traditional Dress Showcase: Models wear unique regional attire from various cultures based in the Mexican states of Jalisco, Puebla, San Luis Potosi, Michoacán, Oaxaca, Guerrero, Chiapas, and the Yucatán, all from the Olga de la Vega private collection.
1:15-1:45 pm City Heights Mariachi strolls through the Plaza de Panama and El Prado walkway.
2 pm La Fiesta Danzantes de San Diego: A 20-minute ballet folklórico dance performance in the Plaza.
2:30-4:30 pm Pacific Beat: Live performance of salsa, merengue, cumbia, and other danceable music genres in the Plaza, sponsored by Univision Radio Station Group, Inc.
3:15-3:45 pm Wa-Kushmá Folk Dancers: Performances of traditional folk dances from Nueva Leon and Jalisco, both featuring a dozen dance couples.  
4:45 pm San Diego State University Marching Aztecs Drumline: Performance on the Plaza de Panama stage by the 20-member drumline followed by a procession to the Spreckels Organ Pavilion and participation in a performance of the US and Mexico national anthems there at 5 pm.
5 pm Cinco de Mayo Concert in Spreckels Organ Pavilion: Jarabe Mexicano performs with SDSU School of Music Percussion Ensemble and Marching Aztecs Drumline student performers. Jarabe Mexicano is sponsored by Kiwanis Club of San Diego.

Booths and Activities (11am–5pm)

Balboa Park Conservancy: Mexican-themed coloring sheet activity for kids and Lucha Libre and Frida Kahlo mask-making craft.

Balgonte Gallery: Unique painting on wood activity for kids. Also, wire animal sculptures, traditional Day of the Dead catrinas, and onyx pieces for sale. 

Centro Cultural de la Raza: Bead jewelry-making activity with artist Edie Morales, and face painting for kids. Tiendita Kumiai will offer original articles from the Kumiai (Kumeyaay) community for sale.

Escaramuza Charra las Golondrinas: Opportunity for kids to “ride” and take selfies atop Senior Woodie — a saw horse with a charro saddle. Items for sale include rebozos, silver earrings, sombreros, sarapes, flower headbands, necklaces, and more.

Friends of Balboa Park: Hands-on plant re-potting activity for kids who get to take home their own Salvia de Santa Barbara plant, while supplies last.

House of Mexico, International Cottages: Hands-on crafts for kids making god’s eyes and paper flowers; also coloring pages.

Mexican Consulate (3 booths): Booth 1 – Huichol artisans all the way from Nayarit, Mexico, demonstrating traditional mask- and jewelry-making techniques. Booth 2 – Wearing traditional Huichol costumes, Nayarit artisans from Sierra Madre Occidental display artworks made in beadwork and yarn and teach kids how to make yarn bracelets they can take home. Booth 3 – Paper flower-making activity for kids with artist Brenda Silva, inspired by José Guadalupe Posada’s famous La Calavera Catrina print of 1910.

San Diego Art Institute: Craft-making activity creating a worry doll (muñeca quitapena), an artisanal tradition that began in Guatemala and originated in Mayan folklore.

San Diego Automotive Museum: Special display of a lowrider vehicle and Day of the Dead mask-coloring activity.

San Diego County Fair (2 booths): Booth 1 – Artist demonstration with free kids activity coloring Mexican sun catchers, which mimic Mexican stained glass. Booth 2 – Crafters from the Mexican State of Oaxaca make huipiles, embroidered blouses worn for special occasions by indigenous women in southern Mexico and much of Central America. Also, hand-embroidered clothing made by the Zapoteca community and purses from the Triqui community and a variety of personalized bracelets that can be made on site with customers’ names. Visitors can also spin the electronic wheel for a chance to win prizes, including Fair vouchers, and a chance to slap a piñata for Mexican candy.

San Diego Natural History Museum: Fun natural history-themed activity for kids. Also, the Nat’s Sula Vanderplank, research associate, and mammalogist Scott Tremor discuss mapping the biodiversity of Baja California; information on the current photography exhibition Baja’s Wild Side. TheNat is a proud member of Museums for All, which grants free general admission for families (up to 4 people) with an EBT card and photo ID.

San Diego Department of Parks and Recreation: Art-making activity using colorful yarn and adhesives to mimic traditional Mexican embroidery. Also, learn about the many fun, exciting, and diverse recreational programs, as well as volunteer, mentee, and internship opportunities the Parks and Recreation Department has to offer!

San Diego Public Library: A hands-on craft for younger children making Cinco de Mayo paper sombreros, and a craft for older children making Mexican folk art mirrors. Also, visitors can spin-a-wheel to win library swag, including magnets, tote bags, bracelets, and stress “stars.” Pick up handouts about SDPL’s many library resources and program flyers and sign up for a library card.

Spanish Village Art Center (2 booths): Booth 1 – Hands-on activity for kids making giant Mexican paper flowers to attach to a wrist or ponytail with an elastic band, and coloring pages activity. Also, painting demonstration in the style of Frida Kahlo. Booth 2 – Cinco de Mayo-themed handcrafted items for sale.

Starlight Theatre: Craft and coloring station for kids to color in a mariachi performance on Starlight’s stage. Also learn about efforts to reinvent and reopen the Starlight Theater and how you can get involved.

Timken Museum of Art: Art-making activity in which families can print with cactus stamps on mini cotton pouches. Everyone will get to take home their very own Cinco de Mayo-themed bag.

XEWT Channel 12 — Televisa: Hands-on crafts for kids and the famous Canal 12 prize wheel to win fabulous gifts for the whole family.

Food Trucks

American Flavors
Beachin’ Boba
Caribbean Flavors
Frida’s Cocina
Haad Sai
Sicilian Breeze
Simply Fresh
Super Q
Tacos la Mezcla
Tacos y Mariscos el Jefe
Two for the Road
Yo Yo Bento

Sponsors and Partners

Cinco de Mayo in Balboa Park is presented by the Balboa Park Conservancy in partnership with the City of San Diego Parks and Recreation Department, with sponsorship support provided by XEWT Channel 12 – Televisa, Univision Radio Station Group, Inc., Calimax, Kaiser Permanente, and Kiwanis Club of San Diego.


Posted on

April 3, 2017