Bringing the traditions of Mexico closer to the people of McAllen, MXLAN, the highly anticipated five-day cultural festival is already in motion. The event aims to celebrate Oaxaca’s most renowned annual holiday, La Guelaguetza.

Guelaguetza means to give or share, or offer a gift or service to someone. The celebration revolves around indigenous dances and brings together the eight regions that make up Oaxaca.

This year, the celebration extends across the border.

MXLAN festivities, which started on Wednesday, will all take place at the McAllen Convention Center and McAllen Performing Arts Center. The day started with an artisans fair featuring more than 150 craftsmakers from Mexico in the morning, and ended with a Neon Lights 5K at night.

Luis Cantu, vice president of the McAllen Chamber of Commerce and director of MXLAN, said that he is looking forward to the community seeing what they have been planning since fall of last year.

“We are very excited because this is the first time we do an interactive arts and culture festival,” Cantu said. “It requires a lot of team players to put this on, and we want to make sure that at a time that is very critical, talking about immigration policies, that we celebrate Mexico and their culture.”

The festival, which will run until Sunday night, features both free and ticketed opportunities for attendees.

Some of the free events that will run throughout the course of the festival include the MXLAN Mercado, a Mexican artisan market, MXLAN Mindgames: International Chess Tournament with $3,600 worth of prizes, and live Oaxacan street art by muralist, Irving Cano.

Live music by Hispanic artists coming in from across the country will perform every night at 7 p.m. on the MXLAN Breakthrough Stage. On Friday, Le Butcherettes, a Mexican garage punk band will perform.

In addition, for $20, attendees will be able to take part in the MXLAN Unite Music Festival at the Unite Stage. The line-up for the open-air concert includes Los Invasores de Nuevo Leon, Solido, Los Cadetes de Linares, and Sonora Dinamita de Anaidita. Children under 13 are free.

On Saturday, attendees will have the opportunity to learn how to prepare traditional Zapotec dishes at a food conference led by Chef Carina Santiago. The demonstration starts at 5:30 p.m.

For the rest of the festival, a Shah Calenda Parade will make its way around the area to close the night. With more than 150 Guelaguetza performers and giant dolls, the procession will begin at 8:15 p.m.

“We want to tell people that it’s an open invitation to the community,” Cantu said. “We want them to enjoy the beautiful marketplace that we have, enjoy the parade, and walk home with the free stuff we will be giving out.”

For a full list of events, visit www.mxlan.com.