The Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival returns to downtown Phoenix Sunday, May 1, for the first time since 2019, a two-year absence caused by COVID-19.
“We’re gonna come back full force,” says Ernestina Arvizu, whose family has presented the festival in downtown Phoenix for 29 years, bringing hundreds of musical groups through the Valley while entertaining thousands of attendees.
Lisa Lisa will headline a day of activities that also features live performances by Malo and Color Me Badd.
The longest-running festival in downtown Phoenix is regularly ranked as one of the top 10 Cinco De Mayo Festivals in the nation by the staff at USA TODAY.
The admission fee, as always, is $5 if you get there before 5 pm
The festival entrance is on Third Avenue at Washington Street in downtown Phoenix. The festival will street will stretch from Third to Fifth Avenue and Washington to Adams Street.
Lisa Lisa, Color Me Badd and Malo to perform
Lisa Lisa is seen as a pioneer for Latin artists who entered the English-language market in the ’80s, sending two songs to the top of Billboard’s Hot 100 as the voice of Lisa Lisa and Cult Jam— “Head to Toe” and “Lost in Emotion.”
Other hits include a million-selling breakthrough single called “I Wonder If I Take You Home” that topped the dance charts, “All Cried Out” and “Let the Beat Hit ‘Em,” which topped the dance and R&B charts.
Often referred to as the Original Kings of Latin Rock, Malo play a blend of rock, jazz and blues.
Their breakthrough single “Suavecito” peaked at No. 8 on Billboard’s Easy Listening chart and has been called the Chicano National Anthem.
Sugar Ray used a vocal section of the song in the refrain of “Every Morning,” which became their highest-charting entry on the Hot 100.
In an interview with MTV News, Sugar Ray frontman Mark McGrath explained, “We referenced ‘Suavecito’ because growing up in California, you know, that was just like the low rider anthem. Any car show or swap meet you’d ever go by , you’d always hear that [song] and that just stuck in your mind.”
Color Me Badd topped Billboard’s R&B chart in 1991 with the double-platinum breakthrough hit “I Wanna Sex You Up,” which won an American Music Award and two Soul Train Awards.
Their next two singles — “I Adore Mi Amor” and “All 4 Love” — topped Billboard’s Hot 100.
Other hits include “Forever Love” and “Time and Chance.”
Local bands will start the music at 12:30 pm with the first of the national artists taking the stage at 5:30 pm
Festival also features scholarships, lowriders and Lucha Libre
Cinco de Mayo commemorates the 1862 Battle of Puebla victory of an indigenous Mexican army over the French army.
The family-oriented festival will also feature Ballet Folklorico, a Lowrider Legacy car show, Lucha Libre, a free kid zone with interactive rides and games, sponsor giveaways and plenty of food booths serving traditional food, beer, margaritas and other drinks.
Arvizu Scholarships in partnership with Grand Canyon University have awarded more than $600,000 in scholarships to Hispanic high school students looking to continue their education in university programs.
Scholarships will be awarded on-site.
Despite having to cancel the 2020 festival because of the pandemic, the Arvizu family was able to raise $30,000 for GCU scholarships. Last year, they hosted a vaccination site at the Phoenix Convention Center for Cinco de Mayo and handed out scholarships.
“We’ve been able to sustain through the pandemic our giving of scholarships through our non-profit,” Ray Arvizu says.
“So we’re very blessed. But it’s been interesting. The reaction to the festival returning this year has been pretty phenomenal. People are excited about getting back out.”
VIP tickets grant access to an exclusive area with seating, raised platforms, a private bar and restrooms and access to the meet & greet where all the action happens.
Cinco de Mayo Phoenix Festival
When: Noon-10 pm Sunday, May 1.
Where: Third Avenue at Washington Street, Phoenix.
Admission: $5 before 5 pm (on-site only). $10 general admission after 5 pm (on-site or online) Kids Ages 10 and under free. VIP tickets are available for $40.
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