National Hispanic Heritage Month begins on September 15 and ends on October 15, a fine time in Southern California to duly recognize and appreciate Hispanic culture and influence on our region through art exhibits, lively fiestas and local Latin flavors. Following are five ways to create the best celebrations of this kind in Orange County.

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Ceramics of Western Mexico 
Bowers Museum
2002 N Main St,
Santa Ana, CA 92706
(714) 567-3600

Head for Santa Ana’s Bowers Museum, armed with a dedicated wing devoted to Orange County’s Spanish and Mexican roots through all kinds of means, including a wide range of pertinent artifacts. Notable is an ongoing exhibit of Pre-Columbian Art hailing from Mexico’s Western states of Colima, Nayarit and Jalisco, on view to show what life was like through interpretations of all facets, up to and including iconic Colima canines.

(credit: Lorna Roberts/shutterstock)

Fiestas Patrias in Santa Ana
Civic Center
20 Civic Center Plaza
Santa Ana, CA 92701
(714) 647-5400
Date: September 16 and September 17, 2017 at 10 a.m.

Downtown Santa Ana will be more alive than ever for the 39th annual Fiesta Santa Ana when about a quarter of a million celebrants hit this huge party that takes place on the first weekend of National Hispanic Heritage Month along Calle Cuatro, otherwise known as Fourth Street. The farmers market will be temporarily shut down to make way for festivities of all kinds, like a grand parade, enthusiastic performers such as traditional musicians and dancers and the chance to sample a number of native cuisines, all designed to honor Mexico’s rich history and captivating culture.

(credit: Vivian L./yelp)

2930 Bristol St., Suite A110
Costa Mesa, CA 92626
(714) 556-0176

What better way to celebrate Hispanic heritage than to dine on authentic Cuban cuisine while listening to live music at a top rated restaurant? Choose Habana in Costa Mesa on a Friday or Saturday night beginning at 10 p.m. when tables on the stage area are cleared away to make space for a light-hearted mambo before or after sipping on some superb sangria. And don’t forget to eat. Start with Spanish flatbread, served with roasted red peppers, goat cheese and all sorts of other good stuff, and followed by a super tasty rope vieja. Or, if you’re so inclined, try the tamale pie, a vegetarian treat. By the way, if Bowzer wants to join the party, so be it: Dogs are welcome on the twinkle-lit patio at charming and quite romantic Habana.

(credit: James Kirkikis/shutterstock)

Mission San Juan Capistrano 
26801 Ortega Highway
San Juan Capistrano, CA 92675
(949) 234-1300

Mission San Juan Capistrano, a once viable Spanish mission dating back to 1776 that was quickly abandoned but is still represented through ruins named for Giovanni de Capistrano, the notable 15th-century theologian. San Juan Capistrano is the Golden State’s oldest building still in use with its chapel designated as the single extant structure where Junipero Serra once celebrated Mass. On Sundays, especially during National Hispanic Heritage Month but whenever you can find the time, sign up to tour this fascinating historical structure.

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Bilingual Story Time
Newhope Library
122 N. Newhope St.
Santa Ana, CA 92703
(714) 647-6992

Date: Sept. 20, 2017 at 4 p.m.
Kids and their folks can duly honor National Hispanic Heritage Month 2017 during its first week by taking part in traditional bilingual story sessions at Newhope Library. A good chance to meet like minds while discussing chosen literary selections, Orange County families will learn to appreciate notable books that will be read and discussed in both Spanish and English.

By Jane Lasky

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