7 Free Events to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

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Being Colombian, Hispanic Heritage Month is very dear to me. It’s an opportunity to re-connect to my roots and celebrate my heritage with a community that shares many of my values. There’s also a sense of accomplishment and pride that comes from seeing the figures from the Hispanic community celebrated for their contributions to this country. It inspires me and renews my belief that in spite of the odds, sí se puede!

So from September 15 to October 15, I invite you to celebrate with me the heritage of thousands of people in this city. DC will come alive with music, festivals, and cultural exhibits perfect for Live It Learn It hands-on style activities. These wonderful events will help you learn more about the different cultures that come from the Caribbean, Central and South America, and Spain.

This year, the national theme for Hispanic Heritage Month is “Hispanics: One Endless Voice to Enhance our Traditions”, created by Aissha Hernandez-Ramos from San Juan, Puerto Rico. It speaks to the value in diversity of the cultures and traditions that fall under the Hispanic denomination. In her own words:

Although Hispanics share so much, we do also have very unique characteristics; and that, enhances us as a group. Our traditions will always be part of who we are. As our history shapes our character; culture defines our beauty; and traditions will enhance our future. History, culture and traditions define us; and we maintain alive because of that. We will keep talking to the world, we will let them know we are here, with our history and culture, as we will keep raising our voice with all we are: a legacy of traditions.

Here’s a list of 7 different events you shouldn’t miss this month, that showcase some of this diversity.

Fiesta DC Parade of Nations

Date: Saturday, September 15 This event has been moved to Saturday, September 29

Location: Constitution Avenue and 7th Street NW

Cost: Free

Every year, Fiesta DC kicks off the beginning of Hispanic Heritage Month. Come celebrate Latin traditions with dance, music, and traditional costumes at the Parade of Nations. The starting point will be Constitution Avenue and 7th Street (near the National Archives Building), and the parade will continue east to 14th Street, in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of American History. The event stage will be at 10th and Constitution Ave, in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of Natural History.

Fiesta DC Festival

Date: Sunday, September 16 This event has been moved to Sunday, September 30

Location: Pennsylvania Ave, between 9th and 14th Streets NW

Cost: Free

The second day of Fiesta DC brings a children’s festival, a beauty pageant, a science fair, arts and crafts stations, and traditional cuisine. It’s a great opportunity to immerse yourself in some of Latin America’s best traditions.

Making History, Sharing Culture

Date: Saturday, September 15  This event has been moved to Saturday, October 6

Time: 11 am – 4:30 pm

Location: National Museum of American History – First Floor

Cost: Free*

On October 6, the Smithsonian Latino Center and the National Museum of American History will kick off their celebrations with a full day of hands-on activities, a cooking demonstration by Mexican-American chef Zarela Martinez, and a performance by Grupo Bella, an all-female mariachi band. You can also learn about animation and storytelling from Coco film co-producer Adrian Molina and animator Alonso Martinez. Stay for a screening of the movie afterward!

* Tickets for the Coco screening are free but are distributed on a first come first served basis.

Portrait Discovery Days

Return to Aztlan by Alfredo Arreguin, on view at the National Portrait Gallery

Date: Saturdays and Sundays

Time: 1 – 4pm

Cost: Free

Location: National Portrait Gallery – Education Center

Visitors get the chance to listen to a story and create art inspired by portraits of some of the most prominent Latino figures in US History. There will be 5 sessions showcasing different figures:

September 15 and 16: Dolores Huerta

September 22 and 23: José Limón

Sept. 30: Cesar Chavez

Oct. 6 and 7: Frida Kahlo

Oct. 13 and 14: Sonia Sotomayor

A-Maizing Fun Days

Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian

Date: Saturday, September 15 and Sunday, September 16, 2018

Time: 11 am – 5 pm

Cost: Free

Location: National Museum of the American Indian – Heye Center

Celebrate two of the most important ingredients in Latino American cuisine: Maize and Cacao. Learn about their Mesoamerican origin, as well as their use in Otomi paper figures for harvest celebrations and other Mesoamerican art. You will have the opportunity to create your own Otomi figures, Mayan codex, and Huichol yarn painting, as well as participate in designing and painting a mural with Joaquin Newman. All these while enjoying music performances by Marimba Lira Huehueteca!

Realm of the Jaguar

Photo courtesy of the National Museum of the American Indian

Date: Saturday, September 22 and Sunday, September 23

Time: 10 am – 5 pm

Location: National Museum of the American Indian – Potomac

Cost: Free

Learn more about the Jaguar, a magnificent feline depicted in Native artistic traditions from the Amazon to the U.S. Mexican border. There will be jaguar dances from Bolivia, Mexico, and Guatemala. You’ll also get the chance to learn about the story of the jaguar by exploring mask making by the Mixteca culture and ceramics by the Q’eqchi’ Maya culture.

Nuestra Ciudad / Our City Festival

Photo courtesy of the National Portrait Gallery

Date: Saturday, September 29

Time: 11:30 am – 3 pm

Cost: Free

Location: National Portrait Gallery – Robert and Arlene Kogod Courtyard

Meet local artists, musicians, and dancers! This festival is held in partnership with Carlos Rosario International Public Charter School.

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