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Las Vegas ready to celebrate Mexican independence, Hispanic heritage

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Erik Kabik/Retna/ErikKabik.com

Luis Miguel performs at The Colosseum in Caesars Palace on Sept. 15, 2010.

Updated Saturday, Sept. 8, 2012 | 2:48 p.m.

National Hispanic Heritage Month is nearly here (Sept. 15 to Oct. 15), and with a schedule of events front-loaded around the first weekend, fiesta-minded Las Vegans should plan accordingly.

The majority of Hispanics living in the valley are from Mexico, but there are sizable populations from other Latin American countries, particularly Cuba, as well as Puerto Rico, a U.S. territory. Mexican Independence Day is Sept. 16, but several other Latin American countries celebrate their independence around that date.

Brazil’s independence day is Sept. 7; Chile’s is Sept. 18; and Nicaragua, Honduras, Guatemala, El Salvador and Costa Rica all celebrate shedding the yoke of Spanish colonialism on Sept. 15.

More than a dozen Latin American countries will be represented Sept. 15 at the second annual Fiesta Las Vegas Latino Parade and Festival downtown.

In 2011, its first year, the festival attracted 12,000 people to downtown and Fremont Street, but Executive Director Anastacio Del Real said the event had doubled in size and that organizers expect closer to 20,000 attendees this year.

There will be more musicians, dancers, entertainment and food booths than in 2011. Mexican singer Graciela Beltrán will be the grand marshal for the parade, and Lemus Gas Mariano, Mexican consul general in Las Vegas, will preside over a Mexican Independence Day celebration.

“Our community is very diverse,” Del Real said. “There are Latinos from many different countries. New York has a lot of people from Puerto Rico and Miami has Cubans. Las Vegas has more Mexicans, but it also has large populations of Cubans, Puerto Ricans and Central Americans. With the festival, we want the lineup to include everyone; we want representation from all of the countries. On the parade route, we want people to see their flag represented; we want kids to see the costumes from where their parents are from and their heritage represented. We really work hard to make this very inclusive of all Latino communities.”

There will be a glut of activities, concerts, and restaurant and bar specials all week, culminating in a revelry-packed weekend. Musicians from all over Latin America will be performing in Las Vegas the entire week. To help you sift through all of the events and craft a perfect schedule, here’s a rundown of the marquee events.

    • Dancers at the 2011 Fiesta Las Vegas Latino Parade and Festival in downtown Las Vegas.

      Latino Parade and Festival

      To get a little sample of the culture and traditions from many Latin American countries, head to the free Fiesta Las Vegas Latino Parade and Festival on Sept. 15 downtown. The parade begins at 10 a.m. The festival, on Third and Ogden streets, runs from 12:30 p.m. to 10 p.m.

      Oct. 13, Henderson will mark Hispanic Heritage Month with its annual Hispanic International Day Parade, which dates to 2000.

    • Two fights are better than one

      Las Vegas will play host to two boxing matches over the weekend that feature prominent Hispanic fighters.

      The WBC super welterweight belt will be on the line Sept. 15 when undefeated Mexican boxer Canelo Alvarez faces off with Josesito Lopez at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

      Also on Sept. 15, current WBC middleweight champion Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. will step into the ring with Argentinean boxer Sergio Gabriel Martínez, a former WBC and WBO middleweight champion, at the Thomas & Mack Center.

    • Fernando Olvera, of musical group Mana, performs at the 12th Annual Latin Grammy Awards on Thursday Nov. 10, 2011 in Las Vegas.

      Concerts

      For those who love Latin American music, it may be difficult to choose which concerts to attend this week.

      Mexican singer Luis Miguel comes to the Colosseum at Caesars Palace for a three-night stint Sept. 13-15.

      Flamenco guitarist Esteban performs Sept. 13 at the Smith Center for the Performing Arts.

      Grammy-winning Mexican Latin jazz and salsa artist Poncho Sanchez brings his band to the Smith Center’s Cabaret Jazz Theater on Sept. 14 and 15.

      Cuban jazz trumpeter Arturo Sandoval will perform Sept. 15-16 at the Orleans.

      Flamenco guitarist and actress Charo will perform Sept. 15 at South Point.

      Grammy-award winners and Mexican pop-rock legends Maná will take the stage Sept. 16 at MGM Grand Garden Arena.

      The GIGANT3S national tour is also coming to town to kick off the weekend. The tour — featuring Marc Anthony, Chayanne and Marco Antonio Solis — hits the Mandalay Bay Events Center on Sept. 14.

      The next night, the Mandalay Bay Events Center plays host to Mexico’s pop and ranchera star, Alejandro Fernández.

    • Mariachi Vargas performs during the 2010 Las Vegas International Mariachi Festival at the Rio on Sept. 18, 2010.

      Mariachi Festival

      Hundreds of world-renowned mariachi performers will fill the Planet Hollywood performing arts theater with the sounds of trumpets, guitars and violins Sept. 15.

      The Las Vegas International Mariachi Festival is entering its third decade, and the showcase includes Shaila Durcal, Vargas de Tecalitlan, the ensemble Mariachi Sol de Mexico de Jose Hernandez and Mariachi Divas.

    • Fernando Garibay

      Y mas ...

      Rounding out the calendar are comedians, models and DJs.

      Comedian Carlos Mencia, who was born in Honduras, performs Sept. 14 at Treasure Island.

      Mexican DJ Fernando Garibay will perform a set at Aria’s Haze Nightclub on Sept 14.

      Jessica Burciaga, an American model and former Playboy Playmate of the Month, whose father is Mexican, will headline a Mexican Independence Day party Sept. 15 at strip club Crazy Horse III and Posh Boutique Nightclub.

      The Cosmopolitan offers various events during the holiday weekend, including Mariachi el Bronx at Book and Stage on Sept 14, 15 and 16.

      Throughout the weekend, mariachi performers and folkloric dancers will roam the venue providing entertainment. The Chandelier bar will start offering Mexico-inspired drink specials at 10 p.m. Sept. 15; at 11 p.m., there will be a “Grito,” the Mexican “cry for independence” and bell ringing that traditionally marks the occasion. From 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 16, the Cosmopolitan will have a Mexican “street fair” in its East Tower.

    CORRECTION: Corrected to note that Puerto Rico is a U.S. territory, not a country. | (September 12, 2012)

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    1. Brazil was a Portugese colony. Might not be a big deal to us Anglos but there is a great deal of difference between Spanish and Portugese cultures.