The Ultimate Guide to Cinco de Mayo in New York City

Cinco De Mayo is the ultimate time to celebrate all things Mexican in New York City.  Spanish for ‘the fifth of May’, the day marks the defeat of the French Army at the Battle of Puebla in Mexico on May 5th, 1862. It’s also a cultural phenomenon here in New York, and in the United States of America generally. It’s a time in the year where we celebrate Mexican culture.  If you’re planning to visit NYC in May 2018, then here’s our ultimate guide to Cinco De Mayo in New York: 

First, a little history on Cinco De Mayo. Context is everything, and if you’re going to get the best out of the holiday, you need to understand the story behind the celebration, right? Cinco De Mayo marks a failed French Invasion of Mexico. The French invaded because Mexico had defaulted on its loans from European countries. The French armies began their raids in 1861, and the Mexican government had been forced to retreat. The French became focused on a particular city – Puebla de Los Angeles – a plan that the Mexican President predicted. In preparation, he pulled together a 2,000 strong army of mainly indigenous people. When the French attacked the area on 5th May, 1862, they lost 500 soldiers, and the Mexicans lost just 100, and the French retreated. So, this date became a symbolic victory for the Mexican resistance. Now, in the USA, this date is seen as a celebration of Mexican heritage for our Hispanic population. 

Cinco De Mayo in New York is the ultimate celebration of all things Mexican. It’s a fabulous time to visit New York City (Image Source: Alaingutz via Pixabay)

 With a thriving Mexican cultural scene, Cinco de Mayo brings a further element of buzz to New York City. It’s a celebration that spans beyond New York’s Mexican and Latino populations. Across the city, around this time, you’ll find an abundance of Mexican celebrations. 

Each year, the city hosts a Cinco De Mayo Street Fair close by Grand Central Terminal. New York does street fairs particularly well – and this is no exception. You’ll find art, clothing, apparel, food and drink all with a Mexican twist. 

There’s also an annual Cinco De Mayo parade at Sunset Park in Brooklyn. It marches down Fifth Avenue and culminates in a vibrant community festival celebration in the park. There’s usually music, dance and incredible food on offer. 

Cross over to Brooklyn to enjoy the Cinco De Mayo Parade that culminates in Sunset Park (Image Source: Arotker via Unsplash)

If you want to soak up the food and drink element of the festival – you’ll be spoiled for choice as New York is home to a number of Mexican restaurants and bars. Cinco De Mayo is party season, and it’s their best opportunity to show off the best that Mexican culture has to offer. Check out places like Cascabel Taqueria on the Upper East Side with its famous Mexican street food, Empellón Cocina in the East Village offering twists on Mexican classics or Cosme in the Flatiron District with its contemporary Mexican cuisine and world-renowned chef. There’s also Toloache in Midtown and its refined Mexican menu or La Esquina in Chinatown for some excellent Mexican fayre with a good Margarita. Los Tacos No.1 in Chelsea Market is renowned for its popularity amongst Taco fans – so it’s another safe bet for the best Cinco De Mayo food. 

New York is blessed with a multitude of Mexican restaurants. What better time to enjoy their offerings than during Cinco De Mayo? (Image Source: Edgarraw via Unsplash

 For something even more memorable – Johnny Utah’s on West 51st Street has a mechanical bull that its patrons can ride. Each year they host a Cinco De Mayo Festival, so you can order your tequila and quesadillas – then test your riding skills while you wait. 

Tequila anyone? There’s usually quite a party vibe across the city on Cinco De Mayo (Image Source: bagarteaga0 via Pixabay)

 You’ll enjoy an extra special festival vibe in Big Apple if you visit New York during Cinco De Mayo. The team at Gray Line New York will be ready and waiting to show you around town. Hop on board one of our Hop-On, Hop-Off bus tours for the ultimate combination of sightseeing and easy transportation or check out our superb value Freestyle Pass which includes an unlimited Hop-On, Hop off service plus admission to some of those iconic New York Sights – like the Empire State, the Statue of Liberty and even lesser known attractions like the Museo del Barrio, which specialises in Latin American Art – a particularly fitting visit for this time of year. 

We look forward to helping you when you visit the Big Apple!

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