5 Ways to Celebrate National Hispanic Heritage Month

National Hispanic Heritage Month is fueling a number of online and in-person events.
National Hispanic Heritage Month is fueling a number of online and in-person events. / Vanish_Point/iStock via Getty Images

From September 15 to October 15 each year, Hispanic culture is celebrated with National Hispanic Heritage Month, a nationwide tribute to the history and culture of Americans who came from or who have relatives descended from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, or Central and/or South America.

The honor began in 1968 as Hispanic Heritage Week; Ronald Reagan extended it to last for a month beginning in 1988. The timeframe not only encompasses Columbus Day (which is celebrated as Día de la Raza, or Day of the Race, in many Spanish-speaking countries), but the start on September 15 acknowledges the anniversary of independence for many Latin American countries.

If you’d like to get involved, check out some of the highlights taking place both in-person and online this year that you can engage with in addition to any local or community events. (And if you’d like more on the differences between the terms Hispanic, Latino, and Latinx, we can explain.)

1. Take a virtual trip to the Smithsonian.

The Smithsonian is holding a number of virtual workshops and exhibits during Hispanic Heritage Month, including events focused on Supreme Court Associate Justice Sonia Sotomayor; sculptor Marisol Escobar; and environmental justice in South America, among others. Most events are family-friendly or geared toward younger participants.

2. Visit the Hispanic Museum and Library in New York City.

The Hispanic Museum and Library is open year-round, but Hispanic Heritage Month brings an entire slate of special programming. On September 18, an all-ages family event will be on site, along with an exhibition, In the Heights: From University to Silver Screen that documents that evolution of the Lin-Manuel Miranda musical; polychrome sculptures common in Spain circa the 1500s to the 1800s will be on display beginning October 15.

Can’t make it to Washington, D.C.? The museum will also hold online events, including a presentation on the Mexican folk art papel picado on October 7.

3. Drop in on Elgin, Illinois.

Nearly half of the population of the city of Elgin, Illinois, is Hispanic, and the Gail Borden Public Library is celebrating by offering a number of online events. There’s a virtual Mexican Independence Day celebration on September 11; a program on Latin American culture led by author José-Luis Orozco on September 25; and a Facebook Live event on Latino voices on October 2. You can get more information on these events or register at the library’s website.

4. Celebrate with the New York Public Library.

The NYPL has a number of event programming scheduled, including an online presentation on Hispanic cookbooks and recipes on September 17; an online book discussion of One Hundred Years of Solitude (1970) by Gabriel Garcia Márquez on September 21; and online trivia September 28. You can find out more on their website.

5. Tune into the Hispanic Heritage Foundation Awards.

The Hispanic Heritage Foundation will be honoring a number of Hispanic and Latino legends during their awards ceremony, which is scheduled to air October 8 at 8 p.m. ET on PBS. Musician Carlos Santana will be the recipient of the Legend Award and Puerto Rican singer Ivy Queen will receive the Hispanic Heritage Award for Vision.