Come to Iowa’s largest Latino fiesta, taking place on September 23 and 24 at Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines. The state's only two-day Latino Heritage festival has music, dance, and food that sizzles, making it a celebration not to be missed. Here are five things to look for at this year’s festival.

1. Latin Music 

The heartbeat of the festival is the live music lineup, which will have you tapping your toes and shaking your hips in short order. With colorful performances from acts like iZCALLi, Grupo 515, and Omeyocan Dance Company, there’s both song and dance aplenty on the menu. And wear your dancing shoes in case you want to get into the act (you will); whether that’s dancing like no one’s watching on the lawn or taking an impromptu salsa lesson from the pros. Performances start when the gates open and go all the way through close!

2. Artist Displays

Go big or go bold! Check out various art displays ranging from photography, oils, acrylic, painting, sculpture, and even performance art. From live painting to dancers in traditional Mexican dresses, the displays are as engaging as they are colorful. This festival is the chance for Iowans to experience the diverse creative voices that represent the unique experience of being a Latino Iowan and are not to be missed!

3. Food Vendors

If you don’t hear the Latino Heritage Festival as you approach Western Gateway Parkway, you will certainly smell it. Come with an empty stomach, leave with a full heart, courtesy of sampling many of the culinary delights of Latin America. Expect global dishes and specialties like papusas, mango with chile, birria, sopes, and lots and lots of delicious tacos. (Fact: There is no such thing as “too many tacos.” Ever.) 

4. Cultural Booths

One of the great things at the Latino Heritage Festival is that while you can pair that amazing food dish or incredible dance performance with a deeper understanding of where they came from, courtesy of cultural booths throughout the festival. These booths represent many of the Latin American countries and provide nuance and a deeper appreciation of the dance, art, demographics, and customs of all the different countries, and the role they play in Iowa’s cultural fabric.

5. Children's Activities

Any celebration that’s this colorful and engaging already has a kid-friendly component built in, but add in things like jumping castles, pinata making, coloring stations, and mascots and you’ve got a full-blown fiesta de ninos on your hands.

So come for the tacos and stay for the deeper appreciation of the 22 Latin American countries that are represented throughout Iowa!  

For more information, check out the Latino Heritage Festival website here.  

When: Saturday, September 23 – Sunday, September 24
Time: 10 a.m. – 11 p.m. on Saturday; 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. on Sunday.
Where: Western Gateway Park in downtown Des Moines
Admission: $5 for adults, kids 12 and under FREE. Admission at the gate only. Cash and cards are both accepted.
Parking: FREE parking is available at the Nationwide ramp located at 1100 Walnut Street.