20 Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month kicked off Wednesday with the commemoration of the independence of five Central American nations (Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua). The celebrations continue with the marking of Mexico‘s Bicentennial this week and Chile‘s today. Special events, art exhibits, and lively fiestas are scheduled throughout the month around the country. Here’s a glimpse of upcoming events in six major U.S. cities that celebrate the peoples, history, culture, and contributions of the U.S.’s 48.4 million Hispanics.  

  • The seventh annual Celebrate Mexico Now festival started yesterday, showcasing the art, culture, and music of la tierra azteca at venues throughout town.
  • At the Museo del Barrio in East Harlem, learn more about the critical role played by Spanish-speaking people in the city’s development since its founding as New Amsterdam up through the Second World War at the exhibit, “Nueva York, 1613-1945.”
  • “Pioneros II: Puerto Ricans in New York City, 1948-1998,” an exhibit from the Center for Puerto Rican Studies at Hunter College, is on view at the New York Public Library’s Bronx Library Center. Images and text document Puerto Ricans’ experiences in New York City.
  • Authentic Mexican Restaurant Week also started yesterday and runs until the 29th with prix fix specials at 24 of the city’s finest Mexican restaurants.

More picks from Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Washington D.C., and Philadelphia after the jump.

  • Placita Olvera, site L.A.’s 1781 birth, will be the location of the Hispanic Heritage Month Festival Sunday, October 3, from 11-7.
  • The L.A. County Libraries

    are putting on a variety of events at its branches, including Chicano film screenings, mariachi concerts, and bilingual book giveaways.

  • Some 200,000 people are expected to attend the free Fiestas Patrias in Santa Ana, Orange County (about 45 minutes from L.A.) along Calle Cuatro (Fourth Street) this Saturday and Sunday (11 am-10 pm).
  • This is Vive La Hispanidad‘s sixth year. The event, which features Latin food, entertainment, literature and jewelry displays, will be held Friday, October 8th, at the Galleria Marchetti.
  • The Windy City’s Fifth Annual Latino Music Festival

    will be held at venues throughout the city and offers a robust range of musical genres, from baroque and orchestral, chamber to pop.

  • The Museum of Contemporary Photography offers up the provocative La Frontera: The Cultural Impact of Mexican Immigration” photo exhibit from October 8-December 22.

Washington, D.C.
I’ve expanded my top D.C. picks (Fiesta Musical at the National Zoo and the Fiesta DC–Latino Festival in Mount Pleasant) from last year to include the Kennedy Center’s Celebrate Mexico

programming of Mexican artists and music. As the series is part of its Millennium Stage Art for All endeavor, admission is free and there’s a show every night at 6 pm.

During this month’s celebrations, the City of Brotherly Love playfully becomes Filadelfia, the City of Hermano-ly LoveFiladelfia, the City of Hermano-ly LoveFiladelfia, the City of Hermano-ly Love. Events include salsa dancing on the Battleship New JerseyBattleship New Jersey, across the Delaware River in Camden, NJ; the 48th annual Puerto Rican Day Parade on September 26th, along the Ben Franklin Parkway to Independence Hall; a slew of art exhibits; and a Latin flavors restaurant week, September 19th to 24th.

Looking for more? Check out the National Council of La Raza’s calendar of events throughout the U.S. and do tell us your favorite Hispanic Heritage Month event.

Photo: folklórico ballet dancer, southern California cultural celebration by My Shot user Manuel Gamboa.