How to celebrate the richness of Latin American culture in NYC, online and in-person

With 61 million Hispanics living across the United States — or 18% of the country’s population — it’s no wonder that the rich, colorful, and diverse cultures of Latin American people have become seamlessly woven into the fabric of U.S. culture.

For more than 50 years, families whose ancestors arrived in this country from Mexico, the Caribbean, Central and South America have celebrated their history and contributions to North American heritage every autumn during Hispanic Heritage Month.

The original commemoration was signed into law in 1968 as National Hispanic Heritage Week, before eventually being expanded to cover a month — from Sept. 15 to Oct. 15.

After last year’s COVID-forced hiatus, Hispanic Heritage Month is back — just not as big as before. New York City’s Hispanic Day Parade, which marches up Fifth Ave. on the Sunday before or after Columbus Day, has been canceled this year due to the pandemic, as have many other smaller parades and festivals honoring specific Caribbean and Latin American countries.

And while some in-person events to mark the date are returning to New York City in 2021 — requiring proof of vaccination under the city’s new mandate — others allow anyone with a screen and internet connection to celebrate Hispanic culture in the U.S.

Here’s a guide to get you started.

Theater, Dance, Music

Doña Mañana

Sept. 17 to 19, various times — The Riverside Theatre, 91 Claremont Ave.

Doña Mañana

Doña Mañana

Doña Mañana (NYC & Company/)

Washington Heights-based People’s Theatre Project is back on stage with a full season of in-person events. The season begins with the world premiere of “Doña Mañana.” Set in the year 3050, this dystopian drama celebrates the immigrant experience, as the first female, Afro-Latina President and her team set out on a quest to dismantle the system and bring full liberation to the people. Must be fully vaccinated to attend.

Unicornios en Cautiverio (Unicorns in Captivity)

Sept. 17-19, various times — Thalia Spanish Theatre, 41-17 Greenpoint Ave. Queens

New York City Artist Corps and Latinx Performance Ensemble — a group that promotes bilingual Latinx theater in the U.S. and Latin America with emphasis on race, social justice, immigration, and LGBTQ issues — presents the world premiere of “Unicornios en Cautiveiro (Unicorns in Captivity).” The show, about the COVID-19 pandemic anxieties as seen through the lens of a Puerto Rican family in New York, touches on sexual diversity, acceptance, and family. Free event, performed in Spanish with English supertitles.

Regalo Hispánico

Sept. 17, 7:30-9 p.m. — Teatro LATEA at the Clemente, 107 Suffolk St.

Accent Dance NYC, a nonprofit focused on arts education through performance, is celebrating Heritage Month with an evening of fun and dance at Teatro LATEA (Latin American Theater Experiment Associates) on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The evening will feature a new piece by celebrated Mexican choreographer David Fernandez — which highlights the importance of family through a boy’s journey during the pandemic while exploring Mexican folk art and mythical creatures — as well as works of tango, salsa, and contemporary ballet.

¡Viva! Broadway When We See Ourselves

Sept. 18 at 5 p.m. — Times Square, Manhattan

Celebrate the rebirth of Broadway with a star-studded performance honoring the contributions of Latino artists to the world’s most famous stages. Broadway powerhouses Bianca Marroquín and Ana Villafañe, as well as Tony winners Daphne Rubin-Vega and Robin de Jesús are just some of the marquee names taking part in the free outdoor event in Duffy Square in the heart of Times Square.

Bianca Marroquín and Ana Villafañe light the Empire State Building red in honor of the return of Broadway on Aug. 30 in New York City.

Bianca Marroquín and Ana Villafañe light the Empire State Building red in honor of the return of Broadway on Aug. 30 in New York City.

Bianca Marroquín and Ana Villafañe light the Empire State Building red in honor of the return of Broadway on Aug. 30 in New York City. ([email protected]/)


Estamos Bien — La Trienal 20/21

Ongoing, closes on Sept. 26 — El Museo del Barrio, 1230 Fifth Ave.

The Procession, Yvette Mayorga

The Procession, Yvette Mayorga

The Procession, Yvette Mayorga (Robert Chase Heishman/)

El Museo’s first large-scale national survey of Latinx art features the work of 42 artists and collectives from across the U.S. and Puerto Rico who use their work to show resilience in their culture while addressing issues such as social justice, climate change, and the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on minorities. “Presenting a major survey of Latinx art today is not only urgent, it is also a great opportunity to continue proving its relevance nationally and globally,” said Rodrigo Moura, the museum’s chief curator.

Lost Throughout the Pages (Whispers of the Caballeros)

Ongoing, closes Oct. 6 — Baxter St. at the Camera Club of New York, 126 Baxter St.

Fear of Your Kiss, Antonio Pulgarín

Fear of Your Kiss, Antonio Pulgarín

Fear of Your Kiss, Antonio Pulgarín (Handout/)

Queer Colombian-American Antonio Pulgarín is celebrating the two communities he proudly represents in a new exhibition at Baxter St at the Camera Club of New York. By merging queer archival images from the 1980s through the present day with aspects of his Colombian cultural identity, the lens-based artist set out to aims to democratize the history of beefcake imagery by including his own experiences, while honoring the queer BIPOC community. The artist will participate in a virtual conversation via Zoom on Sept. 23 at 6 p.m., and a Coffee Talk via Instagram Live on Sept. 25 at 2 p.m. ET.

TV and Virtual

Hispanic Heritage Virtual Run

Sept. 15 to Oct. 17

Latinos Run, a New York-founded organization with more than 25,000 members around the world, promotes running as a way to improve the physical and mental health of members of the Latinx community. This year, the group is offering a virtual 5K, which can be completed any time between Sept. 15 and Oct. 17, to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Complete the challenge however you wish (running, walking, at the gym, or even at another race) and earn a Hispanic Heritage Month-themed medal.

Billboard Latin Music Awards

Sept. 23, 8 p.m. (Red carpet special starts at 7 p.m.) — Telemundo

The 2021 Billboard Latin Music Awards will celebrate the year’s best in Latin music in a star-studded fiesta from the Watsco Center in Coral Gables, Fla. Bad Bunny leads the list with 22 nods, followed by Maluma with 11, J Balvin with nine, and Karol G, Anuel AA and Black Eyed Peas with eight each. Appearances by Camila Cabello, Marc Anthony, Banda MS, Karol G, Natti Natasha, Prince Royce, Ana Bárbara and more.

Singer/songwriter Marc Anthony performs during the kick off show of his "Pa'lla Voy" tour at the AT&T; Center in San Antonio, Texas, August 27.

Singer/songwriter Marc Anthony performs during the kick off show of his “Pa’lla Voy” tour at the AT&T; Center in San Antonio, Texas, August 27.

Singer/songwriter Marc Anthony performs during the kick off show of his “Pa’lla Voy” tour at the AT&T Center in San Antonio, Texas, August 27. (SUZANNE CORDEIRO/)

A La Calle Block Party

Oct. 1, 7 to 8 p.m. — YouTube

For over 50 years, the world-renowned Ballet Hispánico has celebrated the diversity of the Latino culture through dance performances, education programs and social advocacy. On Oct. 1, a trimmed-down, all-virtual version of its fourth annual block party will stream on Ballet Hispánico’s YouTube Channel, featuring the company’s celebrated dancers performing a solo from “Arabesque” by Vicente Nebrada and an excerpt from “18+1″ by Gustavo Ramírez Sansano, as well as distinguished guests, including Afro-Puerto Rican dance and drum company Bombazo, and Calpulli Mexican Dance Company.

For those who can’t watch it live, A La Calle Block Party will be available for on-demand streaming through Oct. 15.


October and November, check your local listings

A new season of Latino Public Broadcasting’s signature series “VOCES” is coming to PBS stations in October to celebrate the diversity of the Latinx cultural experience. Stories include a portrait of a once-heralded Cuban writer who was silenced by the revolution; two Mexican-American brothers, and Vietnam veterans, who face deportation; and a look at Latinx representation in Hollywood.

Out and About

Carnaval de la Cultura Latina

Sept. 12 — Junction Blvd. in Corona, Queens

For the past 15 years, the Carnaval has brought art, dance, music, food and kids activities to Corona, Queens, to celebrate the first week of Hispanic Heritage Month. Organizers estimate that 80,000 people attended the event in 2019, the last one to be held due to the pandemic.

26th Annual Panamanian Day Parade

Oct. 9 at noon — Crown Heights, Brooklyn

The world’s largest Panamanian parade outside the Republic of Panama is coming to Crown Heights to commemorate Panama’s separation from Colombia, which took place in November 1903. The parade begins at Bergen St. and Franklin Ave., and heads toward a street fair on Classon Ave. The fair, which attracts over 30,000 people, features art, music, as well as Panamanian, Caribbean, and Latin American food specialties.

Angelia S. Rico

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