The first thing you absolutely need to know about Cinco de Mayo is that -- despite what your inebriated friends might claim -- it isn't a celebration of Mexico's secession from Spain. And that's a fact. (That particular holiday is in September, gringo.) You'll have plenty of opportunities to set the record straight and share this tidbit with the masses, as there are a multitude of fiestas and fetes that will celebrate Cinco (pretty much one of the biggest drinking holidays of the year) both this weekend and on the fifth of May.
Its good news for anyone who'd want to get in as much partying as possible and for those who might have to report to work on the day after. At any rate, most bars, clubs, and nightlife establishments around the Valley will have some sort of Cinco-inspired festivities (likely with a surplus of tequila and cerveza on hand) happening on Tuesday, May 5, or on the weekend prior. That includes any of the following options, which run the gamut from Latin dance events and some more traditional celebrations to flat-out rowdy affairs, all of which are some of the best choices for your pesos.
Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival Arguably one of the grandest Cinco celebrations in the Valley -- both in size and scope -- this two-day block party on Saturday, May 2, and Sunday, May 3, in the heart of downtown Phoenix will boast huge lineup of live entertainment and distractions aplenty. To go along with its mix of mariachi groups, traditional musicians, vibrant vendors, folklorico dancers, lucha libre wrestlers, and amateur boxers, the festival's main stage will feature a diverse mix of music and some pretty well-known artists -- including Ginuwine, Sir Mix-A-Lot, Keize Montoya, and Fayuca on Saturday, followed by gigs from Tower of Power, Jay Perez, La Sucursal de la Cumbia, Soul Persuasion, and the Latino Rebel Band on Sunday. General admission is $5 at the door before 5 p.m., $15 at the door or online after 5 p.m., and free for kids 12 and under. Gates open at 2 p.m. on Saturday, May 2; and at noon on Sunday.
Chandler Cinco de Mayo Festival Pint-size pups who happen to be fast on their feet and Latin music and culutre will be celebrated during Chandler's annual Cinco de Mayo Festival on Saturday, May 2. The event's famous tradition of Chihuahua racing followed by a beauty pageant will once again and begin at 5:30 p.m. while the festival itself, which benefits the Si Se Puede Foundation, will offer Latin, jazz, and mariachi bands, a beer garden, a custom car show, and more. The live music lineup will include such acts as Latin All-Stars, Carmella y Mas, and La Voz Diamante. The event starts at 9 a.m. Admission is free before 3 p.m., $10 thereafter.
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Maya Day & Nightclub Electro-house producer and Fool's Gold founder A-Trak will rock the record decks when he headlines the Soundwave Pool Party on Sunday, May 3. Gates open at noon; $20 general admission, $40 for VIP access.
Linger Longer Lounge The force will be strong with Tongue Tied's DJ Roya and DJ Funkfinger during their Superhero vs. Sci Fi Party on Saturday, May 2. Lightsaber duels, superhero dance battles, and a cosplay contest are planned, as well as plenty of indie dance hits and retro tunes being spun. The party blasts off at 9 p.m. with a $5 cover.
The Scottsdale location of this "Super Macho Taqueria" will be one of the premier place to go hard and get wild, and not just on Cinco de Mayo. In fact, there will be several days of celebrations planned for El Hefe Scottsdale, including back-to-back block parties during the buildup to the holiday that will feature plenty of drinking, dancing, and other lively activities. On Saturday, May 2, there will be a massive bags tournament starting at 11 a.m. with a $1,000 prize, as well as the chance to watch the Mayweather/Pacquiao boxing battle on 20-plus screens. (There's a $50 entry fee per team.) The party continues on Sunday, May 3, during a special edition of the weekly Sundays 4-2-10 rager, which will feature a scorching performance by superstar electro-house DJ duo Dzeko and Torres and all the usual El Hefe-style thrills. Doors open at 10 a.m. each day.
And on Cinco de Mayo itself, Jorge the Donkey will pay a two-hour visit and will pose for pictures with patrons with a variety of sombreros and panchos on hand to help amp up the fun factor. A wealth of party favors and decorations will also be available inside during El Hefe Scottsdale's "Dos + Tres = Cinco!" party, which will star DJ Thomas James in the mix. Doors open at 11 a.m. and the fiesta goes until 2 a.m. Call 480-945-6200 for more details and admission info.
Not to be outdone by their sister location, the Mill Avenue version of El Hefe will feature a viewing party for the Mayweather/Pacquiao showdown on Saturday, May 3, with the fight being shown on 30-plus screens starting on 6 p.m. followed by dancing and DJs until last call.
The festivities on Tuesday, May 5, will be equally as lively during the "Dos + Tres = Cinco!" affair, which will feature Dos Equis and Tres Generaciones Tequila, photo ops with Jorge the Donkey, El Hefe's fantastic high-octane cocktails and drinks, and Deejay Diesel dropping beats and high-energy sounds all evening. Doors open at 11 a.m. and the party runs until 2 a.m. Call 480-257-2797 for more details and admission info.
Giligin's The ultra-profane and dastardly funny Chuey the Rock 'n' Roll Midget will host a Cinco de Mayo edition of Giligin's gonzo goldfish races on Tuesday, May 5, with enormous $4 Corona bombers and other drink specials. The races start at 10 p.m. and there's no cover.
Aunt Chilada's Given that Roger Clyne not only happens to be a popular local rock legend, but also one with his own brand of tequila (a.k.a. his namesake "Mexican Moonshine"), the fact that he'll stage a performance at Aunt Chilada's raucous and rowdy Cinco de Mayo affair on Tuesday, May 5, shouldn't come as much of a surprise. Clyne will be at the North Phoenix establishment to "sip, sing, and celebrate Cinco" with his the Peacemakers, as well as members of his fanbase and anyone else in the mood to party. The event will also include such thrills as a bikini bocce ball tournament, a Day of the Dead face-painting contest, an adult-oriented piñata bash, DJs, food and drink specials, and more. Gates open at 4 p.m. Admission is $15.
Livewire Local hip-hop station 101.5 The Beat will stage the latest in its Beatlocker Live concert series -- a spinoff of its locals-only show of the same name -- in honor of Cinco de Mayo on Tuesday, May 5, at the Scottsdale entertainment venue. Renowned Arizona rappers and hip-hop artists like Pokafase, Hannibal Leq, Willy Northpole, Ali Tomineek, Heavensent, and others will man the microphone during the 18-and-over event, with moves being laid down by local b-boy troupe Footklan, and such local turntablists as DJ Fact135, DJ Jaba One, DJ J20, and DJ Marvel will be on the ones and twos throughout the night. Doors open at 6 p.m. Admission is $10.
Tapacubo The poolside cantina at the stylish Graduate Hotel in Tempe will get into the spirit of Cinco de Mayo with an all-day fete on Tuesday, May 5. Patrons can bring their swimsuits and go for a dip, purchase Mexican ashtrays with a Tapacubo koozie for $3, or score such drink specials as $2 Mexican drafts, $4 house margaritas, and $6 Corona sunrise cocktails. There will also be a raffle benefiting the Threadz Teen Resource Center with such prizes as a one-night stay at the hotel, giveaways from Corona and Casa Noble, and more. The party runs from11 a.m. to 2 a.m. and there's no cover.
The Shout! House We're willing to bet that the famed dueling pianists at this Westgate spot will slip in a few Latin-inspired rock and pop tunes -- probably along the lines of Santana, Ricky Martin, or Enrique Iglesias -- into their musical revue during the Shout! House's Cinco festivities on Tuesday, May 5. If you aren't the mood to sing along when you get their, a few of the $2 El Jimador tequila and $3 Coronas, Dos Equus, and margaritas that will be available might loosen you up. Doors open at 7 p.m. and the dueling pianos start at 8 p.m. Call 623-772-1500 for cover info.
Marc's Sports Grill & Nightlife Cinco will be celebrated all day long on Tuesday, May 5, at this Glendale dive. The bar will serve $2.25 tequila shots, $2.75 margaritas on the rocks, $3.25 tequila sunrises, $3.25 Corona bottles and drafts, $3.50 Dos Equis pints and other specials. Plus, happy hours prices will also be available from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Meanwhile, Texas Hold'em games will take place at both 7 p.m. and 10 p.m., and karaoke starts at 9 p.m. in the lounge. No cover.
Dos Gringos Mesa n times will be afoot around the clock on Tuesday, May 5, at the Dos in Mesa. Day-drinkers can show up early for some early imbibing, of course, while the afternoon crowd can swing by when the partying really gets going. DJ Type Two will spin starting at 4 p.m., followed by DJ Jeff Jones from 8 p.m. to close. Games, giveaways, and other fun will also take place throughout the day. Doors open at 11 a.m. Admission is free.
Dos Gringos Scottsdale A big party is also planned at the Dos on Craftsman Court in Scottsdale on Tuesday, May 5, which will include music from a trio of DJs, games, drinks, and all manner of shenanigans. DJ Design will spin from 4 p.m. until 8 p.m. before turning over the wheels of steel to DJ Tranzl8tr and DJ M2 for a six-hour set that will run until last call. Admission is free.
ThirdSpace The partying will be going on both inside ThirdSpace and out on the back patio on Tuesday, May 5, when dollar street tacos will be served and DJ Starhack will work the mixers starting at 7 p.m. Admission is free.
Sandbar Three straight nights of Cinco celebrations will take place at the Desert Ridge and Chandler Sandbar locations. Both locations will broadcast the Kentucky Derby and Mayweather/Pacquiao fight on Saturday, May 2, and feature live music. Additional bands will also perform on Sunday, May 3, and Tuesday, May 5. Hours vary. Admission is free.
Calico Jack's The Cinco festivities won't be limited to only one day at this Westgate spot. To wit: during "Dos de Mayo" on Saturday, May 2, specials like $2 margaritas, $2 tacos, and $2 domestic draft beers will be available from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The viewing party for the Mayweather and Pacquiao fight starts at 6 p.m. followed by various drink deals from 11 p.m. until close. On Cinco de Mayo itself, a giant burrito eating contest is planned, a trip to Mexico will be given away, DJ Izzy will be in the mix, and specials will include $5 drafts, margaritas, and appetizers and a burrito. 11 a.m. to 2 a.m. Cover charges vary.
Macayo's Depot Cantina This particular Macayo's location, which is situated near downtown Tempe, tends to rock more of a party-hearty vibe than the other restaurants in the chain, so it stands to reason that its Cinco de Mayo event on Tuesday, May 5, will plenty raucous. Live bands and turntable jocks -- including Fairy Bones, Paper Foxes, Itality, and DJ Area4 -- are scheduled to perform at the party, which will be hosted by 104.7 KISS FM's Julian on the Radio, and "killer drink specials" will reportedly be in abundance. Doors open at 10 a.m. Call 480-966-6677.
Cactus Jack's If you've got a burning desire to hear such signature Santana hits as "Black Magic Woman," "Oye Como Va," or "Maria Maria," local tribute band Supernatural is scheduled to hit the stage at Cactus Jack on Tuesday, May 5, for the bar's Cinco de Mayo party. Americana-inspired blues-rock act Skunk Creek Railroad will also be there and specials like $5 tequila shots, $3.50 Coronas, and $5 margaritas will be offered. The music starts at 6:30 p.m. Admission is $5.
Karamba Cinco will be celebrated all weekend long at Karamba, kicking off with a live performance by Mariachi Mexico Nuevo on the patio on Saturday, May 2, followed by dancing until 4 a.m. The partying continues on Sunday, May 3, with Barbara Seville's salsa challenge starting at 3 p.m. and a Cinco de Mayo drag show hosted by Diamond later in the evening. Cover charges vary. Call 602-254-0231.
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