Things to Do

30 Ways to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month Around DC

A packed lineup of dance performances, concerts, festivals, and classes runs through mid-October.

Manassas Latino Festival. Photograph by Jose Paiz.

Hispanic Heritage Month, which celebrates Americans with heritage from Central and South America, the Caribbean, Mexico, and Spain, runs Thursday, September 15 through Saturday, October 15. Here are some events–some for kids, some for adults, and some for all ages–around DC: 


Manassas Latino Festival. Photograph by Jose Paiz.

Latino Heritage Festival Family Day and Concert  
Saturday, September 17, 11 AM-8:30 PM
This festival—held at the American History Museum and sponsored by the American Latino Museum—will showcase Latino history, art, and culture with activities, performances, and collections. Visitors can check out a puppet theater, cooking demonstrations, pop culture programming, and tours for all ages. Am evening concert begins at 6 PM with several performers, including JChris, the DC Cuban All Stars, Mariachi Reyna de Los Ángeles, and Batalá Washington.

Experience Guatemala at The Wharf 
Saturday, September 17 and Sunday, September 18, 11 AM-7 PM
Learn about Guatemalan culture and sample Guatemalan food at this free celebration at the Wharf’s District Pier. Learn more here

Latino Festival of Frederick, MD
Sunday, September 18, noon-5 PM
The 14th annual Latino Festival of Frederick, held on the Frederick Community College campus, invites guests to learn about Latino culture through arts, music, crafts, food, dance, and games. The event is free, and food and drinks will be available for purchase.

American Film Institute Latin American Film Festival 
Thursday, September 22 through Wednesday, October 12
The AFI Latin American Film Festival, held at Silver Spring’s AFI Silver Theatre, showcases 41 films from 21 countries. The Mexican animated documentary, Home is Somewhere Else, will premiere on Monday, September 26th. The film features three stories of undocumented children and families in the US. General admission tickets are $15 and festival all-access passes are $200.

From Machu Picchu to Maryland 
Thursday, September 22, 6:45 PM
This Hispanic Heritage event, held at the Mall in Columbia’s  Fountain Plaza, includes Peruvian music, folk dancing, and a special menu from Chicken + Whiskey.

Fiesta DC Festival 
Saturday, September 24 and Sunday, September 25
This all-day festival includes performances and food from several Latino cultures. It will take place on Pennsylvania Avenue, Northwest between Ninth and 14th streets. Find more information here

Manassas Latin Festival
Saturday, September 24, noon-7 PM
This annual free festival celebrates at Manassas’s Loy E. Harris Pavilion with music, dance, food, and family activities. Find more information here

Latin Rhythm Festival
Saturday, October 1, noon-10 PM
This free festival features a street market, local artists, and performances by La Unica, Jonathan Acosta, and Orquesta Nfuzion, at Germantown’s BlackRock Center for the Arts. Register here.  

Kids Events

Papel picado. Photograph by timlewisnm/Flickr.

Papel Picado Craft Kits To-Go at Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library
Friday, September 23 
The Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library will provide the supplies and instruction for Mexican papel picado, or cut tissue paper decorations. Open to ages 5 and up.

Fotos y Recuerdos Festival at the National Portrait Gallery
Saturday, September 24, 11:30 AM-3 PM
The National Portrait Gallery and children’s book publisher Lil’ Libros are joining together to host this bilingual festival. This event features story times, book signings, live entertainment, and gallery tours. 

Read and Craft at Shaw Neighborhood Library
Thursday, September 29, 3-5 PM
This month’s Read and Craft event celebrates Hispanic Heritage Month with molas, folk art made by Kuna women of Panama’s San Blas Islands Attendees will learn to make their own art. Find more information here.

Create Your Own Quetzal at Northwest One Neighborhood Library
Tuesday, October 4, 3:30-5 PM
The Northwest One Neighborhood Library near NoMa will provide supplies to cut, color, and glue a resplendent quetzal, the national bird of Guatemala. The program is for ages 5 through 12. 

Celebration of Children’s and YA Latin American and Latinx Literature Online event
Tuesday, October 11, 6-7 PM
Hosted by the Library of Congress and Consortium of Latin American Studies Programs, this virtual event celebrates Latin American children’s and young adult literature. Find more info here

Craft Kit To-Go at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library
Wednesday, October 12
Pick up a craft kit with supplies to make a papel picado (cut tissue paper) banner and a tissue-paper marigold. Kits are available on a first come, first served basis at the Children’s Reference Desk; find more information here

Juegos, Cuentos y Fandangos at the Mount Pleasant Neighborhood Library
Saturday, October 15, 11 AM-noon
Gabriel Guzman will present traditional Mexican children’s stories, songs, and rhymes. Find more info here

Presentations, Films, and Book Talks 

Cooking up History: Celebrating Comida Chingona and the Low-Rider Lifestyle 
Saturday, September 17, noon-1 PM
Phoenix-based chef Silvana Salcido Esparza will demonstrate how to make cochinita pibil, a slow-roasted pork dish, as she discusses car culture and her “badass food” style. The demonstration will take place at the American History Museum. 

DC Oral History Coffee Chat – First Latin American Festival on the Mall
Saturday, September 17, 11 AM-12:30 PM
This panel discussion at Penn Quarter’s Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Library will dive into the history of the first Latin American Festival on the Mall. Learn how Festival organizers and community members brought their Latino culture downtown and to America at large. Attendance is free, and you can register here

Latinx Caribbean Heritage Panel at Politics and Prose
Sunday, September 18, 3 PM
Novelists Dahlma Llanos-Figueroa and Carmen Rita Wong will speak about their shared Caribbean heritage on a panel with Politics and Prose Director of Events Patricia Coral. Seating at this free event is first come, first served. 

Choreographing Mexico Book Launch and Symposium 
Friday, September 23, 6:45 PM
George Washington University Professor and author Manuel R. Cuellar will speak with a panel of other academics about his new book, Choreographing Mexico: Festive Performances and Dancing Histories of a Nation. Registration for virtual attendance is available here.

Short Film Screening at Takoma Park Neighborhood Library
Thursday, September 22, 6 to 7 PM
The 2018 short film Dario centers around the protagonist, Dario, from Barranquilla, Colombia, who has to work at his uncle’s store but wants to dance in a local carnival instead. 

Book Talk with Angie Cruz at Politics and Prose 
Saturday, September 24, 3 PM
Author and Professor Angie Cruz will speak about her new novel, How Not to Drown in a Glass of Water with DC blogger Lupita Aquino. Find more info here

La Manplesa Watch Party at the University of DC
October 6
This film details the 1991 protests in Mount Pleasant spurred by the police shooting of Salvadoran man Daniel Gomez. Part of the PBS documentary series America ReFramed, this film tells the story of one of DC’s first barrios. The film will premiere on PBS platforms on October 6. Follow the film on Instagram @lamanplesafilm for more updates. 


The National Museum of the American Latino’s Molina Family Latino Gallery. Photograph by Tony Powell.

Presente! A Latino History of the United States Virtual Gallery
The National Museum of the American Latino has created a virtual gallery to accompany its June exhibit at the National Museum of American History. The gallery shines a light on US Latino history and includes first-person oral histories, 3D objects, and historical biographies.  

Terceros Lugares Closing Reception at the Embassy of Venezuela 
Friday, September 30, 6-8 PM
Curator Fabiola R. Delgado illuminates the Venezuelan diaspora in this art exhibit at the Bolivarian Hall of the Embassy of Venezuela. The works in the show are up for auction, and a percentage of sales will go towards Humanitarian Action. Register for the free event here

Latin Fashion Week
October 15, noon-10 PM
After two years, Latin Fashion Week returns to DC with a day of fashion, music, art, workshops, and an after-party. Tickets start at $75. 

Dance and Music 

DeSanguashington performing. Photograph courtesy of DeSanguashington Band.

Tango Mercurio Dance Classes 
Through October 26
This six-week program at marketplace La Cosecha teaches dancers to become more musical, and each lesson shows how the techniques apply to different tango orchestras. Drop-in classes are $25, and a six-class pass is $120. 

Latinx After Eight: 2022 Latino Heritage Festival Evening Dance Celebration
Friday, September 16, 7-11 PM
This evening event at the American History Museum features music, dancing, and special docent-led tours in the Molina Family Latino Gallery. Food and drinks will be available. The event is free and open to ages 21 and up. Register for your ticket here.

Concert with Andean and Latin Fusion Band RAYMI 
Saturday, September 17, 11:30 AM-12:30 PM
Andean and Latin fusion band RAYMI will perform alongside Peruvian scissor dancers at the National Museum of the American Indian’s Potomac Atrium. Find more here

DeSanguashington at La Cosecha Market
Saturday, September 24, 6-7:30 PM
Colombian-American band DeSanguashington, named best Latin Band of the year in 2021 at DC’s Wammie Awards, will play at La Cosecha. The DC band blends traditional Colombian folk music with anglo genres.

Latin Dance Class at Charles E. Beatley Jr. Central Library
Thursday, September 22, 6-7 PM
This free class focuses on a range of styles, including salsa, bachata, merengue, and cha-cha. No experience necessary. The event page can be found here.

Katie Kenny
Editorial Fellow