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If you spend any time in Mexico or Guatemala, you’re going to need a list of the best mariachi songs to request. These roving musicians are an essential ingredient for a fiesta, birthday party, romantic dinner, funeral or beach day under a palapa on one of Mexico’s beautiful beaches.
They’re also popular on Cinco de Mayo (May 5th) and on Mexico’s Independence Day which kicks off on the evening of September 15th and takes place on September 16th.
This important National Holiday features traditional food, processions, dance and, of course, mariachi music.
Listen to Famous Mariachi Songs in Guadalajara
The first time ever I heard a mariachi sing was at a dinner club in Guadalajara, the heart of the mariachi world in Mexico. I was seated in the front row of a wooden stage and every time the mariachi stomped his cowboy boot, vibrations would ripple across the stage down into my toes.
He sang of love, loss and betrayal and looked straight into my eyes. It didn’t matter to me that he was portly, wore a shiny, sequinned shirt and big sombrero, by the end of the first set I was madly in love.
My swooning turned out to be the beginning of a bout of food poisoning and I spent the remainder of my 3-day stay in Guadalajara, on the floor at the Hotel San Francisco Plaza.
Although I left Guadalajara without seeing my mariachi again, the memory of his songs stayed with me.
Best Mariachi Songs to Request at Parties or the Beach
Since then we’ve enjoyed mariachi music at Plaza Garibaldi in the heart of Mexico City and on Manzanillo Beach in Puerto Escondido.
While the musicians at the beach aren’t officially mariachis because they’re not wearing charro suits or with a full orchestra, it’s still handy to have a list of the best mariachi band songs to request so you don’t listen to endless rounds of Cielito Linda.
Do you want a happy mariachi song or one of the classic romantic mariachi songs?
Knowing the titles of mariachi songs to request can help set the mood you want to create – be it upbeat to dance to or to set a romantic atmosphere for you and a loved one.
Given my husband is from Guatemala (and not everyone wants to listen to the song Soy de Zacapa), to create our playlist we appealed to our friends from Mexico for advice.
Together we came up with a playlist of canciones that were sad, political and wildly romantic. There were even a few cumbias perfect for dancing.
Here’s a mariachi song list to request at a birthday party, a Cinco de Mayo party, Day of the Dead, a funeral or beach day and Independence Day.
The list includes the titles of the top mariachi songs for dancing, fun mariachi songs and love ballads plus a few of the most famous mariachi songs.
List of the 25 Best Mariachi Songs to Request
1. Para Siempre
2. Urge – Vicente Fernandez
3. Maria Isabel
4. Mujeres Divinas – guaranteed to make you sob. A good mariachi song for your Father
5. No Vale la Pena
6.La Media Vuelta
7. Sabor a Mi
8. Te regalo una rosa – Juan Luis Guerra is Dominican but many singers know this song
9. Y Te Vas and El Amor – Touching songs by Jose Luis Perales but also sad
10 El Son de la Negra – lively
11. Soy de Zacapa – if you’re in Guatemala
12. El Mariachi Loco – best for dancing
13. La Negra Tomasa – a cumbia that’s fun for dancing
14. Malagueña (sad )
15. Si Nos Dejan
16. El Borracho – speedy and great for dancing
17. Las Mañanitas – for a birthday party
18. Cielito Linda – deservedly famous
19. Volver, Volver – made famous by Vicente Fernandez
20. La Llorona – A traditional Day of the Dead mariachi song most often heard on Dia des los Muertos
21. Siempre te amaré – a perfect mariachi song for a wedding
22. Las Golondrinas (The Swallows) – A sad and beautiful mariachi song for a funeral, it symbolizes saying goodbye to a person as their soul rises to heaven. It’s also a good choice for New Year’s Eve (to say goodbye to the old year) and for people starting a new chapter in life.
23. ¡Viva México! and 15 de septiembre – classics for Mexico’s Independence Day on Sept 16th.
24. Mexico Lindo y Querido – you’ll wish you were born in Mexico after you listen to this.
25. Amor Eterno – Juan Gabriel wrote this for his late mother. It’s a touching song for a Mom’s funeral or sentimental time.
26. Una Madre Entre Flores – A cheerful tribute song for Mom’s birthday or Mother’s Day.
27. Guantanamera – a last resort
The Most Upbeat and Happy Mariachi Song for Dancing? El Mariachi Loco
Wondering about the best mariachi song for dancing? Check out this video of El Mariachi Loco by the Oscar Flores band! It’s guaranteed to make you want to get up and dance!
How Much to Pay a Mariachi Band?
If you’re wondering how much to pay a mariachi band, it depends where you are.
If you’re at a beach in Mexico, we recently paid 100 pesos for three songs. In USD that works out to be around $5. It’s definitely worth it when it comes to creating the perfect soundtrack for a day at the beach..
However, if you hire a mariachi band to come to your home for a party such as a milestone birthday celebration or party, it’s quite a bit different than just requesting a song at the beach or a restaurant. You have to consider other factors besides just choosing the best mariachis songs for the evening.
Here’s what you need to consider.
10 Tips for Hiring a Mariachi Band:
- Determine how many musicians you want.
- Decide on a budget. In Guatemala it’s around 800 Quetzals ( $110 USD) for six musicians for an hour. In Canada, the cost is usually $300 CAD for a minimum of two hours ( including a break)
- Decide what time you want them to arrive. Don’t get them too early as you want to be sure all your guests have arrived before they start playing.
- Arrange transportation such as a mini-van for the mariachis if they don’t have their own.
- Determine if cost is per song or by the hour. You can usually count on 12- 15 songs per hour.
- Create sufficient space for the musicians to play and for a dance floor.
- Appoint a person to welcome the mariachis, request the songs, identify the guest of honor and arrange for the comfort of the mariachis ( drinks, food, washroom facilities)
- Have a list handy of the best mariachi songs to request
- Expect to serve the mariachis dinner if the gig is for more than an hour.
- Tipping isn’t generally expected but is welcomed if they play extra songs.
Finally, at the end of your event, note which songs were the most popular among your guests – the best mariachi songs are the ones that get people up dancing or singing along. Be sure add those songs to the list at your next event.
Do you have a favourite mariachi song? Let me know. I’d love to add it to our list of the best mariachi songs to request!
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Dividing her time between Canada, Guatemala and Mexico (or the nearest tropical beach), Michele Peterson is the founder of A Taste for Travel. Her award-winning travel and food writing has appeared in Lonely Planet’s cookbook Mexico: From the Source, National Geographic Traveler, Fodor’s and 100+ other publications.
Read more about Michele Peterson.
2 of my favorite mariachi songs are ella and caminos de guanajuato
Agreed! Camino De Guanajuato especially is a classic!
P.S. Just after I sent you my “faves”, the band playing down the street for a birthday party started “Aca Entre Nos”. Everybody’s singing along. I live in Chapala, Jalisco, Mexico.
Aca Entre Nos
Sorry the spelling is not quite right – my keyboard doesn’t do tildas or accent marks, but you know what songs I mean, I hope.
Thanks so much for adding these great mariachi songs, Jeanne! They’re classics for sure! Acá Entre Nos always gets a lot of audience participation. A Saturday night in Jalisco Mexico doesn’t get much better than that! Enjoy
Great post with so helpful tips! Thanks so much! The list of songs I will check on yt and I hope soon in Mexico. I’m going to dance, dance and dance 😀
Mariachi and mezcal? Count me in! I love the entire country of Mexico and usually visit at least once a year.
Carole Terwilliger Meyers
I, too, adore mariachis. Here is a video I made of one of my favorite groups, https://youtu.be/7XX4QRc7o_4
I love the roaming mariachi bands especially if I’ve had a few cervezas. I just love hearing the local music and often purchase a CD if they have one. Nothing is more fun than to play music from a trip make some nachos and relive the fun times.
Irene S. Levine
Hearing a mariachi band is always so uplifting! When we go to Cabo, there is a “Cabo song” we always request.
When we attended a wedding to Ciudad Obregon, a mariachi band played outside the bride’s parents home, which was so charming!
Once you get to the beer and ceviche the mariachi music can be just about anything. 😉 Even though I think it’s Cuban, Guantanamera is a good one too. We usually sing “One ton of mayo.” We’re idiots.
I’m afraid I’m one of those uptight gringas who would rather the mariachis didn’t stop at our table. However, if they’re going to do so anyway and they’re going to expect a tip even though you didn’t ask them to stop next to you, I suppose it’s good to at least have a song in mind that you’d like them to play. Now, the trick is going to be remembering where I’ve stored your list. 😉 (First world problem).
I laughed so hard reading this post. I just returned from Mexico and don’t know why I waited so long to travel there. I know the musicians really need the money but I also feel weird about having them play for me. Look up, look down? Eat my food? Get up and dance?? Next time, I’ll go with the dancing I think!
That’s the spirit! When in doubt – dance!
Live music is such a vital–and increasingly rare–part of the travel experience. I always tip – and buy CDs if they have one to sell. If musicians are not paid, it’s inevitable the next generation will not consider it a viable job/worth learning…
I always feel uncomfortable when roving musicians stop at my table. I don’t know what to do, where to look or how much to give them. And so I never even enjoy the music until they’re at someone else’s table. You’ve inspired me to actually sit back and listen.
You can always sing along! People also wonder what to pay. In Puerto Escondido it was 50 pesos a song ( or 3 for 100 pesos) and in San Miguel it’s 60 or around $4.
Love mariachi music! Sounds like a lovely place to relax.