Fiesta Fun

Arizonans love to share holidays with Mexico. Or maybe they just love to party. For years, Cinco de Mayo has been a Valley beer blowout, as residents chug cheap Coronas in celebration of . . . what? You probably think Cinco de Mayo is Mexico's Independence Day, but it's not -- that holiday marks the day in 1862 when Mexican soldiers booted out the French army. Mexico had already gained its independence from Spain on September 16, 1810.

So if you want to celebrate Mexico's Independence Day (or just celebrate), this is the weekend to do it.

The fun begins at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, September 16, with a Fiestas Patrias Concert by salsa band Carmela y Más at the Phoenix Art Museum, 1625 North Central. The show is free with museum admission, $9 for adults and $3 for children.

Festivities continue at the museum Sunday, September 19, with Festival Familia. Entertainment includes music by Mariachi Pasión, Larry Yañez, and Ruth Lara Vichules; demonstrations by artist Pedro Ortega Lozano; mask making; puppet shows; and Mexican lotería games. Museum admission is free all day.

The city of Avondale will host a free Fiestas Patrias Celebration beginning at 6 p.m. Friday, with a performance by music group Califas and the presentation of the Fiestas Patrias Queen. Saturday's soiree starts with the 10 a.m. Fiestas Patrias Parade down Western Avenue, and activities at Coldwater Park, 10 North Eliseo C. Felix Jr. Way. Loz Bad Boyz, Los Llegadores, and Rams de la Sierra provide live music, and there's also a Youth Talent Show in the mix. Call 623-478-3050.

The city of Glendale will join in the fun on the 17th and 18th, with ¡Fiesta Glendale! at Murphy Park, 5850 West Glendale Avenue. The free festivities begin at 4 each afternoon, with music performances on two stages. Friday's roster includes Barrio Latino, CPR Orchestra, and Carmela y Más. Straight Up, Fire and Desire, and Cascabel take the stage Saturday night. There will be plenty to munch on, as the food court dishes out fajitas, empanadas, gorditos, tamales and more. Call 623-930-2299.