It is a well-known fact that the 5th of May is often celebrated more in the United States than in Mexico, where the holiday actually comes from. What started as a celebration of the Mexican victory over the French in the Battle of Puebla in 1862, has morphed into a celebration of heritage and culture for Latinos in the United States. As Tucson has a large Latin American population, it's a big celebratory day for the city.
With social distancing and increased vaccination numbers, more venues are opting to host Cinco de Mayo festivities this year. There are plenty of great ways to celebrate at home, but if you feel like supporting local businesses and getting out of the house, here are a few great celebrations to attend this week. As the 5th falls on a Wednesday this year, some of the events will be held over the weekend. Let's get ready to fiesta!
Started in 2008, the Agave Heritage Festival has been celebrating Cinco de Mayo as a way to showcase the great agave traditions of the South West. It features tequila tastings and cooking competitions that feature agave and tequila as stars of the show. It has expanded in recent years to include art shows, galleries, and more. I keep up to date by following their Instagram account.
Naturally, last year's event was canceled, like every other great thing that year, but it's back this year and ready to go. Instead of the two-week party, they're focusing on one night at Hotel Congress in downtown Tucson. Buy tickets ahead of time ($25 per person) and enjoy a pared-back version of the festival. There will be food trucks, music provided by local DJs, mezcals, and what is sure to be a great night for all. The ticket includes a guided mezcal tasting with regional experts, featuring local artisanal mezcals.
Head to the El Conquistador Hilton for all-day celebrations at this local resort. Hit the spa for some rest and relaxation. I found a great deal for a massage on Groupon for their brand new spa, SpaWell. After recharging, head to the restaurant for some street tacos and a margarita. There will be a mariachi band from 5 pm to 7 pm, and other cocktail specials for guests. Look at the hotel specials and perhaps take a staycation for a night.
If tickets sell out for the Hotel Congress event, head over to your local bar for margaritas and dinner. Casa Marana, located by the car wash off of Cotaro, is having a $5 margarita night on Cinco de Mayo. Enjoy the music from Brook Sample, a local country singer, while you take in the cool desert night. Casa Marana has pizza, paninis, desserts, and a vast drink menu to enjoy. If you've never been to this establishment, they carry 600 types of beer, have wine on tap, and have a focus on bringing you local spirits. No cover charge to get in, and it's a family-friendly environment. Take the kids and get some delicious pizza. They're open until midnight during the week, and until 2 am on the weekends.
While a tiki-themed dive bar might not scream Latin American history, take a look at The Hut this Cinco de Mayo. They have an outdoor patio that is great for social distancing and taking in the beautiful desert night skies. They're hosting Diluvio AZ, a local mariachi band, for the evening. They have some outdoor games like corn holes, pool tables, and a giant Jenga set. This is a great place to head for the evening with your adult friends to grab some drinks and take it easy. The Hut closes at 10 pm, so pop in at 8 for the music, and be home in time to get some real sleep before work on Thursday.
Either way you celebrate the 5th, do so with courtesy to fellow Tucsonians. Keep your distance, mask when necessary, and be respectful. Happy Cinco de Mayo.