Best Places to Celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month

September 15 to October 15 marks National Hispanic Heritage Month. It’s a time dedicated to celebrating the cultures and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean and Central and South America. It began as a week-long celebration under President Lyndon Johnson in 1968. Then, it was expanded into 30 days by President Ronald Reagan in 1988.

You may be wondering why observance begins mid-month.

September 15 was chosen as the official start date because of its cultural importance, marking independence for Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. Mexico and Chile follow soon after on September 16 and September 18, respectively.

Here in Montgomery County, nearly 20 percent of residents are Hispanic, making up the second largest race/ethnicity within the community, according to the U.S. Census Bureau,. In fact, the most common language spoken in the county, other than English, is Spanish with 14.5 percent being native speakers.

So, it comes as no surprise that there are a number of events in our area celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month. Here’s when and where you can experience the sights, sounds and flavors of our valued and vibrant Hispanic community. Vamos!

AFI Latin American Film Festival (September 21– October 11)

Now in its 34th year, the AFI Latin American Film Festival showcases the best films from Latin America, Spain and Portugal. There will be films by Hispanic filmmakers as well as works portraying cultural life in various Spanish-speaking nations. Films include TOTEM starring Mateo Garcia Elizondo, Sundance prizewinner RADICAL starring Eugenio Derbez, and others. Click here for the full list of movies and showtimes.

Credit: @ArmsandHugon

Westfield Wheaton Hispanic Heritage Celebration (September 30)

The third annual continued celebration of Hispanic Heritage Month takes place at Westfield Wheaton on Saturday, September 30 from 1:00 pm until 5:00 pm. Singers Capital 51 and Etnia will give a live musical performance and folklore dance troupes like Folklore Salvadoreno USA, Kids of Caporales San Simon Virginia USA, Las Chiapanecas, & Jenny Osoria plan to perform as well. Social Media star Tia Maria will be in attendance and so will TV personality Stefani Gamboa. Activities for all ages are at this festival including face painting, clown shows, and a bilingual theatrical showcase.

Festival de Ritmos Latinos (Latin Rhythms Festival)

The third annual Festival de Ritmos Latinos at Black Rock Center for the Arts in Germantown features a full day of fun including a street market, local artists & Latino-owned businesses. Live music will be performed by La Unica, Jonathan Acosta & Orquesta Nfuzion.

Teen Movie Night: Latino Heritage Month

Join the Brigadier General Charles E. McGee Library in Silver Spring for a teen movie night showing of In The Heights on September 13th from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Pizza will be provided for those who stay and watch the movie. Note: the movie program is only limited to 13 to 19 year olds.

Hispanic Heritage Month Educational Display

Explore Gaithersburg’s Latinx community with an educational display depicting an anthropological analysis of the life stages of 1.5 Generation Latinx immigrants in Gaithersburg. Learn about the ways Latinx adolescents hold on to their culture & share it with our community. This event is sponsored by the Multicultural Affairs Committee in collaboration with the Gaithersburg Community Museum. It’s held at the Activity Center at Bohrer Park located at 506 South Frederick Avenue, Gaithersburg, MD 20877. 


For more information on heritage sites around the county, visit

“This Project has been financed in part with State Funds from the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, an instrumentality of the State of Maryland. However, the contents and opinions do not necessarily reflect the views or policies of the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority.”