Events celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month in the DC region

WTOP is celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. All this month, discover stories from the diverse Latino communities in the D.C. region, here at and on air at 103.5 FM.

Every year, the D.C. region comes together to celebrate the traditions and customs of its Hispanic residents through a host of Hispanic Heritage Month events.

The national celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month became law in 1988, starting a new monthlong celebration from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15. The start date also coincides with the anniversary of independence for multiple Latin American counties, including Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua.

The D.C. area is no exception to those celebrations, planning out multiple festivals and activities to celebrate its growing Latino community.

“The D.C. region has one of the highest concentration of Latinos in certain regions in the country, and it’s so important to recognize and to support the contributions of a diverse diaspora of Latinos in the area,” Eduardo Perdomo, director of D.C. Mayor’s Office on Latino Affairs, told WTOP.

Below are a list of events happening across the D.C. region.


‘Unidos en Cultura’: DC’s Hispanic Heritage Month Kickoff 
Friday, Sept. 15 at 5 p.m. at Lamont Plaza in Northwest D.C. 

D.C.’s kickoff event in the Mount Pleasant neighborhood will feature live music and performances representing different areas of Latin America as part of its “uniting cultures” theming, Perdomo said.

“We’re gonna have dances from the Black heritage of Colombia, Black heritage from Panama, the Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Bolivia [and] Peru,” he said. “So it’s going to be as diverse as possible within the time constraints that we’ll be having.”

La Feria Raices Latinas (Hispanic Heritage Festival)
Saturday, Sept. 16 from 12-6 p.m. at Metz Middle School 

Manassas, Virginia, will convert Metz Middle School’s parking lot into multiple “villages” representing multiple countries and interests. A Puerto Rican band, a 14-piece orchestra and multiple folklore dance troupes are expected to perform.

Fiesta DC
Sept. 23 and Sept. 24 on Pennsylvania Avenue, between 3rd and 7th Streets, in Northwest D.C.

The District’s hallmark annual event during Hispanic Heritage Month features a parade, music performances, the Miss Fiesta DC beauty pageant, and multiple food vendors to highlight the area’s Latino culture. Headlining this year’s musical performances is Mexican American musician A.B. Quintanilla III of the Cumbia Kings.

Noche Cultura 
Oct. 13 in downtown D.C. Time TBD 

The annual celebration of D.C.’s Latino Affairs office will be taking place in the downtown area for the first time in “a vacant space.” According to Perdomo, a group of local artists will help the city revitalize the area in a “transformational way,” with its new look debuting during the celebration. More details will be released on the office’s social media pages.

“We are trying to take one vacant space that is basically underutilized and flip it,” Perdomo said. “Flip it with art, creativity, love [and] community.”

Festival Latinoamericano
Oct. 15 from 1-5 p.m. at Arlington Mill Community Center.

Arlington, Virginia’s largest Latino festival brings hundreds to enjoy live performances, food and activities for the whole family as part of the area’s “exciting community spirit.” The event is free but organizers ask that you register on the festival’s Facebook page.


Latino artists highlight TGIF Encore
Fridays starting Sept. 15 to Oct. 13 from 5-8 p.m. at Marian Fryer Town Plaza

Live musical performances return to Wheaton, Maryland, for the fall season with a Latin twist. Artists from the D.C. region will be highlighted as part of Montgomery County’s celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month. Performances are free to attend and Twin Valley Distillers will serve cocktails and beer for those over 21. See the lineup here. 

Sabores Latinos: A Hispanic Heritage 7-course Chef Dinner 
Sept. 20 from 5-10 p.m. at Inca Social in Arlington, Virginia 

Known for its modern take of classic Peruvian cuisine, Inca Social is offering a seven-course dinner that showcases “the diverse and vibrant culinary traditions of the Hispanic culture.” The dinner costs $59.99. Tickets are available online.

Latin American Film Festival
Sept. 21 to Oct. 11 at AFI Silver in Silver Spring, Maryland

Now in its 34th year, the AFI Latin American Film Festival will feature 44 films from 21 countries, including Spain and Portugal. General admission tickets are $15, while a festival pass for access to every screening is $200. See the list of films and showtimes on AFI’s website.

Create Mexican tissue paper flowers 
Sept. 21 from 4-5 p.m. at Woodrow Wilson Library

Learn to construct paper flowers used in Mexico for the last 200 years in Fairfax County, Virginia. The traditional paper flower is used to decorate fair booths, cakes, altars and graves.

Hispanic Health Fest
Sept. 30 from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. at Heritage Community Church in Severn, Maryland

Anne Arundel County’s health fair will feature free services including oral exams, vaccines against COVID-19 and the flu, dental checkups and more. Mobile consulates from Mexico, Guatemala, Peru and El Salvador will also be on hand.

Nuestra Cocina
Oct. 6 from 7-11 p.m. at La Cosecha Market in Northeast D.C. 

The event, sponsored by Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Latino, focuses on exploring D.C.’s food scene with cooking demonstrations and a conversation with culinary entrepreneurs from around the region. Registration for culinary demonstrations will done on-site, on a first-come, first-serve basis. DJ Pedro Night will provide music as part of the festivities, and food establishments inside the marketplace will offer specialty menu items for purchase.

Latino Book Festival
Oct. 7 and Oct. 8 at Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Library in Northwest D.C.

For the first time, D.C. will host its Latino Book Festival, which will feature Latino authors hosting panels, storytelling workshops for kids, cooking demonstrations and more.

“Every year, we’re going to have a feature country; this year is Mexico because we’re celebrating the 200 years of bilateral relationship between the United States and Mexico,” Perdomo said. “We know the diverse and the vast cultural heritage that Mexico has, not only for the Americas, but the world.”

“I Survived la Chancla” Comedy Show and Afterparty
Oct. 7 at 7 p.m. at Simple Bar and Grill in Northwest D.C.

A night of laughs featuring an all-Latino lineup of comedians who have performed around the D.C. region and abroad, including at the DC Improv, Magoobys and Broadway Comedy Club. The show starts at 8 p.m. and the after-party begins at 10 p.m. Tickets are $15.

Latinx Queerciañera
Oct. 10 at 7 p.m. at El Rey DC in Northwest D.C.

A twist to a traditional celebration marking the transition to adulthood: Members of the region’s LGBTQ+ community will come together for a panel discussion on their experiences growing up before the event transitions into a party filled food and music. Perdomo said people of all communities are invited to attend and celebrate the experience.

“We’re going to basically provide a space for those that were not able to fulfill the idea of having their quinceañera party [growing up],” Perdomo said. “So we’re going to have a some sort of a quinceañera party but for the queer community and beyond.”

Educational events

¡De última hora!: Latinas Report Breaking News
Opening Friday, Sept. 15 at the National Museum of American History

Located in the Nicholas F. and Eugenia Taubman Gallery, the exhibition highlights the work of Latina broadcast journalists and how they reported on major U.S. events. It will also feature items used by the reporters during their time working the trade including reporter’s notebooks, media credentials, clothing and more. Reporters highlighted in the exhibit worked for multiple U.S. Latino outlets including Univision and Telemundo.

Fotos y Recuerdos Festival
Sept. 23 from 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. at the National Portrait Gallery

A collection of portraits featuring Latino trailblazers will be on display with some details provided by the Lil’ Libros book series’ “The Life of / La vida de.” Other events include art activities, museum tours, story times and book signings. The Washington Ballet will be attending to lead a story time and a salsa and bomba workshop.

Voices Unidas: A Conversation with Robert Santos, U.S. Census Bureau Director
Sept. 27 from 6-8 p.m. at the University of Maryland

The director of the Census Bureau will discuss the importance of civic engagement within the Latino community at the University of Maryland’s Thurgood Marshall Hall. Light refreshments will be served.

Library of Congress to release 50 unpublished recordings 
Sept. 28 at the Hispanic Reading Room

The Library of Congress will release 50 recordings from its PALABRA Archive of authors and poets reading their works. One of the recordings features award-winning poet Ada Limón, who became the first-ever Latina to become U.S. poet Laureate. The recordings will also be available for online streaming.

See the rest of the Library of Congress’ list of events for Hispanic Heritage Month on its website.

Latinas in Aviation Global Festival
Oct. 14 from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the College Park Aviation Museum in Maryland 

Meet and hear from pilots featured in 2020’s Latinas in Aviation book on their experience and passion for flying. The event will also feature static aircraft display interactives, presentations, children’s activities, mentorship circles and scholarship opportunities.

José Umaña

José Umaña is a digital editor for WTOP. He’s been working as a journalist for almost a decade, covering local news, education and sports. His work has appeared in The Prince George’s Sentinel, The Montgomery Sentinel, Orlando Sentinel, PressBox and The Diamondback.

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