The Battle of the Mariachis

A stunning setting and stirring music enlivens a springtime Saturday.

SOUND + PLACE: It isn't often that two peak-experience events converge. You can go to a great concert but the auditorium might lack for character. You can visit a gorgeous park but there isn't much happening. Something fine can be paired with something else fine and the whole experience is, well, fine. But the Battle of the Mariachis, which is set to strum the strings and sing out on Saturday, May 11, will not deliver on that experience. It's a day of stirring folk music, the tunes so tied to Southern California's own story, and it is all happening in one of the state's most historic and postcardy spots: Mission San Juan Capistrano. Not just the mission, of course, but its flower-laden, bell-lined courtyard (the quintessential California courtyard, in our opinion).

FIVE HOURS OF MUSIC: Several bands will compete during the daytime event, a spectacular that runs five hours (a plus, since too often a mariachi experience tends to be too short, given that the band must stroll on). Bands on the roster include High Desert Mariachi Juvenil from Victorville, Mariachi Apache from Nogales High School in Arizona, and Mariachi des Oeste of Hamilton High in Los Angeles. In short, bands are journeying in for what is one of the premiere events on the mariachi calendar.

MORE TO-DOS: It's a full day with a string of performances and activities -- marionettes and Ballet Folklorico are part of the convivial scene -- but count on those famous bells ringing, too. If you've never been in the courtyard when the Mission bells are rung, it is one of those iconic and important Golden State moments. Yep, we called the setting quintessential California, and the bells are a large part of that.

A ticket is ten dollars.

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