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Cinco de Mayo 2013: The Celebrations in Puebla

Cinco de Mayo has come to represent a lot of things in the United States, from public demonstrations of Mexican-American pride to massive fiestas sponsored by beer and tequila companies. Colorful parades, street fairs, art exhibitions, and margarita-themed bar nights can be found in scores of cities nationwide.

In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a lower-key affair, unless you happen to be in Puebla. Here, visitors and locals alike can enjoy a month’s worth of diverse events, starting in mid-April. This includes the huge calendar of activities and performances scheduled as part of the annual Feria de Puebla and the Festival Internacional 5 de Mayo.

For the uninitiated, May 5 is a state holiday that commemorates the triumph of a scrappy band of Mexican soldiers and locals over the French army in the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Although their victory was short-lived, their initial win was arguably one of the more significant events in modern North American history. After all, if Napoleon III’s troops had made it to Texas to support the Confederacy during the U.S. Civil War … well, let’s just be glad they didn’t and thank Mexico for stalling them.

If you’re in the state capital for the 151st anniversary of Cinco de Mayo in 2013, here are a few ways that you can join the celebration.

Festival Internacional 5 de Mayo

Julieta Venegas performing at the Int'l Festival of Puebla in 2008.Expected to draw 1 million visitors to the city of Puebla this year, this 20-day cultural arts festival comprises myriad free events. The concert, dance, and theatrical performances by regional, national, and international talent take place at nine different venues between noon and 10 p.m. through May 5.

A few highlights:
• World-renowned violinist Joshua Bell, April 22, 6 p.m., Puebla Cathedral
Puebla State Symphony Orchestra, April 25, 7 p.m., San Pedro Museo del Arte
• Mexican rockers El Gran Silencio, April 26, 8 p.m., Antigua Fábrica de los Angeles
• Folk singer-songwriter Julieta Venegas, April 26, 8:30 p.m. Foro Artístico, Centro Expositor
• Alternative singer-songwriter Ely Guerra, April 27, 8 p.m., Estadio Cuauhtémoc

Feria de Puebla

Pablo tries to win me a plush toy shooting hoops.The Puebla State Fair, which runs April 13 to May 12, offers the kind of family-oriented fun you’d find at a state or county fair anywhere: arcade games, carnival rides, junk food, beer stands, arts & crafts, flea market goods, and live entertainment. Everything takes place in and around the Centro Expositor that’s situated smack-dab in the middle of the hilltop Cinco de Mayo forts, Loreto and Guadalupe. General admission is 20 pesos (10 pesos for kids); tickets to the evening concerts and bullfights cost extra.

Free shows in the Foro Artístico:
Hermanos Castro and José Feliciano, April 21, 8:30 p.m.
• Grammy-winning rockers Reik, April 27, 8:30 p.m.
• Pop singer-songwriter Paty Cantú, May 1, 8:30 p.m.A float in Puebla’s 2010 Cinco de Mayo parade touts the state’s culinary prowess.

Some notable Palenque performances:
• Norteño superstars Los Tigres del Norte, April 26, 11 p.m., 400 to 1,200 pesos
• Singer-songwriter Espinoza Paz, April 27, 11 p.m., 600 to 1,600 pesos
• Ranchera and pop crooner Alejandro Fernández, May 3 and 4, 11 p.m., 900 to 2,900 pesos
• Grammy-winning mariachi Pepe Aguilar, May 10, 11 p.m., 600 to 1,500 pesos

Cinco de Mayo Parade

Every year, thousands of students, charros, military, and public-safety personnel march — alongside scores of colorful floats — in the state’s annual Cinco de Mayo parade, which this year is slated for 11 a.m. on May 5.

Official details for this year’s event apparently have yet to be announced (and our social media queries to organizers have gone unanswered). The state government appears to be reconsidering its controversial 2012 decision to change the parade route, which worked well for TV cameras but not for the viewing public. We’re hopeful that its original path, which followed 5 de Mayo Blvd., from Plaza Dorada to the hilltop forts, will be restored.

We’ll update this post as parade information becomes available.

April 25 update: This year’s Cinco de Mayo parade is set to follow the traditional path, only in reverse. The 3.5-kilometer route (click here for map) will start at the monument to Gen. Zaragoza on Calzada Zaragoza/2 Norte and follow Blvd. Heroes del 5 de Mayo to Parque Juárez. Final details will be announced Friday, according to a local media report.

April 29 update: The new state tourism secretary tweets that some 29,000 bleacher and other seats will be made available free of charge to parade spectators.

—Rebecca Smith Hurd

Post updated May 4, 2013.

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10 Responses to “Cinco de Mayo 2013: The Celebrations in Puebla”

  1. Team Jander says:

    ¡¡Muchas gracias, Rebecca!! We’re excited to be in Puebla to celebrate the 151th.

  2. Scott says:

    Found the site while researching Cinco De Mayo-Puebla, and it proved a great resource. My girlfriend and I are considering coming over for a couple days from Mexico City, is the parade the main activity on the 5th, or will there also be “general revelry” as well? Thanks.

  3. Rebecca says:

    Hi Scott and Team Jander!

    Thanks for reading my blog. How wonderful that you’ll be in Puebla to celebrate Cinco de Mayo this year! The parade is the main event on the 5th, but you can expect “general revelry” around town, such as at the Feria de Puebla (mentioned above), an arts/cultural festival at the CCU BUAP, and celebrations in a few restaurants and bars.

    Enjoy your visit.

  4. Tricia says:

    I’m wondering if you (or any of your readers) have any insights into about what time we should head out to grab a seat on bleachers. My twelve year old is on crutches right now, so we’d definitely like to get seats on the bleachers! But I’ve never been to a “big city” parade anywhere, much less in Mexico, so I have no idea when people will start to congregate…any suggestions?

  5. Rebecca says:

    Hi Tricia,
    It looks like the 2013 parade is slated to start at 11 a.m. and last for about an hour. Because it’s broadcast on TV, I suspect it will start on time, more or less. I would arrive at least an hour early to grab a free seat—and look for a spot in the shade (or wear a hat). You could also sit on the curb until the parade starts. In 2010, street vendors also sold small wooden stools/chairs near the route.

  6. Tricia says:

    Okay, thanks for the advice, Rebecca! The crutches have limited our activities lately, so we’re excited to be able to actually see the parade!

  7. Tricia says:

    Just wanted to say that the parade was awesome! Thanks for the tips, Rebecca! For future reference, we arrived at 9:15 a.m. and the bleachers were filled, and there were people about 4 or 5 deep along the parts of the route that we saw (near the tianguis at Analco), but it all turned out fine. We spotted a family with a pick-up truck backed up to the route, and they were happy to let us share the bed of the truck in exchange for some pesos. I’d imagine that was probably a fairly popular spot, though, so it might be easier to find a seat at other points along the route.

  8. Rebecca says:

    Hooray! Some parts of the route are definitely more popular and crowded than others—particularly right near the center of town where you were. I’m glad everything worked out and you enjoyed the parade. ¡Viva, Puebla!

  9. Cate says:

    Hi, Rebecca — Any word/recomendations on Cinco de Mayo 2014? I’ve been checking out official websites, but not much info. Thanks!

  10. Rebecca says:

    Hi Cate. The 2014 Cinco de Mayo parade takes place May 5 at 11 a.m.; we posted a route map on our Facebook page. The Feria de Puebla continues, and the city is doing a Museum Night on May 3. Many other events are scheduled. Here’s a rundown (in Spanish): http://www.oem.com.mx/eloccidental/notas/n3357639.htm