Mariachis gather in Vancouver for May festival

Photo credit: Mariachi Los Dorados

Photo credit: Mariachi Los Dorados

There’s something magical about being serenaded by a mariachi band. Perhaps it’s the new-world charm that draws you in. Or maybe it’s their dapper looks: matching oft blinged-out charro outfits complete with sparkly belts and bright cumber bunds.

For me the enchantment of mariachi exists in the music itself. The deep baritone of the lead mariachi singer, the shrill accompanying yips and hollers plus the combination of horns and strings endeared themselves to me since my first mariachi encounter in the warm lands south of the Rio Grande. Mariachi classics such as Volver Volver and Cielito Lindo have been some of my best meal time soundtracks. 

Mariachi music can be somber but it can also be jubilant and theatrical depending on the group and event. I like to think of mariachi bands as small, wandering orchestras ready to make you cry one moment and dance the next. A mariachi crew usually consists of three violin players, two trumpet players, one Mexican guitar player, a Vihuela, and a Guitarron plus the occasional harp. The art form started in the State of Jalisco of Mexico to serenade and impress members of the opposite sex (usually women).

Thanks to the efforts of local mariachi enthusiast and Mariachi Los Dorados band member Alex Alegria, Vancouver aficionados and newbies alike will   experience the magic of mariachi first hand this month. No, you don’t have to book a charter flight to ol’Mexico to get your fix of grandiose anthems like Guadalajara, instead stick around for the fifth annual Mariachi Festival Canada kicking off on May 15.

To start, the Vancity Theatre will host a Mariachi movie night with a screening of the 1941 black and white film Ay Jalisco, No te Rajes (translation: Hey Jalisco, don’t back down).


Then the sounds of mariachi will echo across the Georgia Straight with the sounds North American Mariachi performing in Nanaimo, Victoria and Vancouver from May 15-18. On Saturday May 18, the mariachis will flock to the Vogue Theatre for the festival’s gala evening to croon to Vancouver crowds about love, unrequited love and the places they love. 

At the Vogue Theatre gala, Mariachi Cocula from mariachi motherland Cocula, Jalisco will play alongside Mariachi Los Arrieros from Laredo, Texas. Local favourites Los Dorados will also be there.

If you just can’t get enough mariachi after the festival, Alegria and his band mates also offer mariachi music camps and they often play at local eateries like Las Margaritas.  

For ticketing and event information on the Mariachi Festival Canada go here.

What is your favourite Mariachi tune or most memorable Mariachi moment? Let us know and leave a comment below.

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