As memories of summer fade, September brings another reason to celebrate: Hispanic Heritage Month.

Each year, from September 15 to October 15, Americans across the USA celebrate the contributions of Americans of Latino descent to the culture, artistry and identity of the country. What began as a week-long commemoration in 1968 has expanded and grown into a 30-day celebration that spotlights those whose families and ancestors came from South America, Central America, the Caribbean, Spain and Mexico. Hispanic Heritage Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the ways that their cultures have, and continue, to shape every facet of American life. 

Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15: the date of the independence from Spain of Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. (Mexico’s Independence Day follows on September 16, with Chile’s on September 18.) Across the US and particularly in Hispanic communities, a vast number of events and celebrations take place throughout the month. Here are some of the best ones.

A woman dressed in a red dress strikes a pose during a Flamenco performance
GALA Hispanic Theatre in Washington, DC produces a wide range of performances for the Latino community © Tommy Barrios / GALA Hispanic Theatre

GALA Hispanic Theatre, Washington, DC

Since its founding in 1976, this bilingual theater company has thrived in Washington, DC, putting on over 200 productions, from contemporary Latin American plays to original musicals and more.

While many shows are geared toward adults, GALA also offers GALita — a program of bilingual productions for younger audiences. The theater also has a matinee program for students, with affordable ticket prices, study guides for students and teachers, script printouts and post-performance talks sure to shed light on any questions from young attendees.

For the month of September 2023, the theatre is staging Baño de luna (Bathing in Moonlight), a play by Pulitzer Prize winner Nilo Cruz, about the struggle between faith and love.

 The Domino Park is a popular tourist destination in Little Havana to watch the elderly play domino.
 Domino Park in Little Havana sees locals gather every day to play the popular game © Fotoluminate LLC / Shutterstock

Little Havana, Miami

For a solid education on a variety of Latin cultures, a trip to Miami is a must. And if you’re hoping to educate yourself on Cuban culture in particular, you’ll want to head straight for Little Havana. This small, vibrant neighborhood is home to several popular Cuban places of interest, such as the Cubaocho Museum, Maximo Gomez (Domino) Park and the Latin Walk of Fame.

You can also stop into any number of eateries in the neighborhood (including the ever-famous Versailles) to sample delicious Cuban cuisine (of late, Nicaraguan, Mexican and Honduran restaurants have also set up shop in the neighborhood). If you’re able, definitely visit during Viernes Culturales, a free art walk down Calle Ocho every third Friday of the month, during which your family can enjoy live music, dancing, gallery access and more.

Mouthwatering options from across the Latino diaspora will be on offer at the Latin Night Market in New York on September 22 © courtesy of Latin Night Market

Latin Night Market, New York

New York is kicking off Hispanic Heritage Month with the Latin Night Market in Inwood. In a city known for its extraordinarily international food culture, this September 22 event will bring together food vendors from across the Latin diaspora, all in one place. 

From Inwood Park to Dyckman Plaza, Dyckman St will be filled with stalls featuring food from neighborhood spots. Explore the market while live music from local artists fills the streets. Make sure to try tacos from Tacos El Guero, Perros Locos’ iconic Nacho Fries, and all the seafood you can eat from Henko Ceviche

Roy E. Disney Center for Performing Arts, National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque, New Mexico USA
The beautiful National Hispanic Cultural Center in Albuquerque © Alamy

National Hispanic Cultural Center, Albuquerque

Occupying one of New Mexico’s most architecturally imaginative buildings, this institution is dedicated to the preservation and advancement of Hispanic culture and arts. Located in the historic Barelas neighborhood of Albuquerque, the center features three galleries used for fine-arts exhibitions, performances and salsa classes.

Visitors can currently appreciate a selection of work, including the new exhibit Into the Hourglass: Paño Arte from the Rudy Padilla Collection, which opens on October 6 and will display over 100 paños (clothes or handkerchiefs) by incarcerated artists. Afterward, stop off at nearby Pop Fizz for an all-natural and organic paleta (frozen fruit-juice bar); the cherry-lemonade flavor hits the spot.

You don’t have to be in New Mexico to appreciate the NHCC’s exhibitions. The center offers virtual offerings during Hispanic Heritage Month – and all year long.

The work of multimedia artist Alexandre Arrechea takes center stage this fall at MOLAA in Long Beach © Courtesy of Jessica Hough / Art Yard

Museum of Latin American Art, Long Beach, CA

If you have an afternoon, the Museum of Latin American Art in Long Beach is a fantastic place to witness powerful pieces while learning all about Latin history. Once a silent-film theater and a roller rink (take note of the wooden floors), the museum recently opened two new exhibitions. 

The Mystery of Painting features the work of Argentine artist Paola Vega, whose massive abstract paintings, at times, encompass entire walls. Her aim is to make the viewer feel immersed in the piece. In various media, the work of Alexandre Arrechea makes viewers question memories and consider the impact of private versus public experiences; Intersected Horizons is the artist’s first solo show in California.

If you are looking for even more activity, check MOLAA’s website for a range of events and education classes for the community..

Chicago Latino Theater Alliance, Chicago

For those in Chicago during Hispanic Heritage Month, a show affiliated with the Chicago Latino Theater Alliance during Destinos, the 6th annual International Latino Theater Festival, is a must. The citywide festival is from September 28 through November 12 and features 17 different productions spanning a wide range of styles and topics. 

From September 29 to October 30, Lucha Teotl will be running at the Goodman Theater. This energy-packed production turns the stage into a professional wrestling arena. From your seat, witness the drama and splendor of lucha libre while learning the rich cultural history of the sport along the way. 

Before or after the show, stop in at Frontera Grill, a restaurant that has been serving up delicious margaritas and mouthwatering mole for over 30 years.

Colorful Murals in Clarion Alley, Mission District, San Francisco, California
The Mission in San Francisco is renowned for its colorful murals, many with political messages © Federica Grassi / Getty Images

Calle 24 Latino Cultural District, San Francisco

While a trip to San Francisco’s Mission District would in and of itself provide a great education on Latin culture, head straight to the Calle 24 area if you’re short on time. This 12-city-block-wide slice of the Mission is run by an all-volunteer group that aims to preserve the rich cultural heritage of the area by advocating for local small businesses and speaking out against gentrification. After, head to La Espiga de Oro for a famous Mission burrito.

Take a tour of the area and you’ll run into several notable spaces like Cafe La Boheme, a Palestinian-founded cafe and now an artistic hub for Central American immigrants; the Brava Theatre, a company promoting theatrical works by women, people of color and members of the LGBTIQ community; and Galeria La Raza, an art and event space for workshops, poetry readings and more.

It’s also home to Acción Latina, a nonprofit showcasing Latinx performing, literary and visual arts; plus plenty of panaderías (Latin bakeries), restaurants (with cuisine from Cuba, Brazil, Puerto Rico and Mexico), parks, shops and vibrant murals.

This article was first published September 2019 and updated September 2022

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