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Oregon’s largest multicultural festival returns to Portland for Cinco de Mayo

The Portland Cinco de Mayo Fiesta embraces Mexican culture through food, performances, activities, and shopping May 3-5 at Tom McCall Waterfront Park.

Two Mexican folkloric dancers with red ribbons in their hair twirl their long, colorful skirts outside on a sunny day.

Mexican folk dance performances by Ballet Folklorico Mexico En La Sangre feature spinning dresses and costumes unique to a particular region of Mexico.

Photo by Orhun Uygur

Have you noticed carnival infrastructure and colorful decorations being set up in Tom McCall Waterfront Park? It’s all part of the 37th annual Portland Cinco de Mayo Fiesta happening this weekend.

Billed as “Oregon’s largest multicultural festival,” the three-day event is organized, in part, by the Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association, a nonprofit dedicated to fostering relations between the Rose City and the cultural heart of Mexico. Fun fact: Guadalajara also goes by the “City of Roses” moniker.

The fifth of May marks Mexico’s 1862 victory over French forces in the Battle of Puebla. While the holiday enjoys more attention in the US than in Mexico, it offers an opportunity to reflect locally on Portland’s — and Oregon’s — Mexican heritage. The Portland Cinco de Mayo Fiesta aims to embrace Mexico’s history and the sister cities’ shared appreciation for the arts through live performances, food, drinks, activities, and handcrafted wares.

Families will find fun crafts, games, and free face painting in the Plaza de Niños. Those seeking musical immersion will enjoy Mariachi Ciudad de Guadalajara performances accompanied by Hillsboro’s Ballet Folklorico Mexico En La Sangre. Shoppers can hunt for art and artifacts — and chat with makers who traveled from Guadalajara and Tonala — at the Guadalajara Artisan Village.

Read on to learn about other highlights in store.

Note: The Portland Cinco de Mayo Fiesta is open 11 a.m.-11 p.m. daily.

Looking down on three rows of white festival tents stretching into the distance, surrounded by trees with the Portland skyline as a backdrop. People mill about the tents.

Sample food, drinks, and desserts from 45+ vendors serving Mexican flavors and other regional specialties.

Photo by Orhun Uygur

Low Rider Car Show | Friday, May 3 | 11 a.m.-11 p.m. | See customized cars featuring unique aesthetic features, push-button hydraulic systems, and whitewall tires.

Naturalization Ceremony | Friday, May 3 | 1 p.m. | The Portland Guadalajara Sister City Association and U.S. Office of Citizenship and Immigration Services will honor new American citizens hailing from dozens of different countries.

Family Day Presented By Toyota | Saturday, May 4 | 11 a.m.-1 p.m. | For every adult ticket purchased at the gate, one child aged 13 or younger can enjoy the fiesta festivities for free.

Rip City Boxing | Sunday, May 5 | 1-8 p.m. | See local youth boxers who competed in Saturday’s semi-final matches vie for the championship.