VivaFest, one of the largest celebrations of mariachi and traditional Mexican music in the United States, returns to San Jose in August with headliners Fernando de la Mora and folk group Mariachi Sol de Mexico, while the festival’s Latin alternative stage will feature Grammy and Latin Grammy-nominated group Kinky. 

VivaFest begins on Labor Day weekend with mariachi and folk dance workshops and features a variety of events throughout September celebrating Mexico’s heritage and culture.

“One of this festival’s major focuses is on music education,” said Marcela Davison Aviles, VivaFest’s executive producer. “We activate a multidisciplinary schedule of cultural events, and it’s all about creating an opportunity for people to gain a deeper understanding of the U.S. Latino – our culture, our community, our issues.”

This year, VivaFest is partnering with KQED and an unannounced major network to increase the festival’s national profile.

“The festival has turned into this sort of platform for content development,” Davison Aviles said. “We’re really excited to have organizations like KQED who are capturing what we do in a digital format.”

VivaFest’s events include concerts, art exhibitions, educational workshops, film screenings, and Feria del Mariachi, a free, daylong celebration of Mexican Independence Day on September 15 at Discovery Meadow, near the Children’s Discovery Museum.  

While a big crowd is expected for the September 15th Independence Day celebrations, VivaFest’s biggest attractions are probably its musical performances.  On September 7, headliners Fernando de la Mora and Mariachi Sol de Mexico will take to the stage at the SAP Center (formerly known as HP Pavilion) for an evening showcasing Mexico’s traditional romantic classics. Davison Aviles calls it “the ultimate date concert.” 

De la Mora and Mariachi Sol de Mexico will be joined by hometown acts (and VivaFest favorites) Los Lupeños de San Jose and Mariachi Azteca, along with Symphony Silicon Valley, performing at VivaFest for the first time. “It’s going to be an opportunity for a couple of San Jose’s institutions to join with us to celebrate Latino heritage,” Davison Aviles said.

A few weeks later, on September 28, Kinky, along with Carla Morrison, La Santa Cecilia, and San Francisco’s Sistema Bomb, will perform on VivaFest’s Latin alternative stage at the Civic Center. All four acts have been nominated for Grammys or Latin Grammys.

Davison Aviles hopes that this year’s VivaFest will not only increase awareness about Latino heritage and culture, but also put San Jose in the national spotlight.

“We just want to continue to be able to tell a really upbeat story about San Jose that not only is heard in Silicon Valley, but is also heard in the rest of the country,” she said.

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