CHARLOTTE, N.C. (QUEEN CITY NEWS) — The cultures and contributions of Hispanic and Latino Americans are taking full center in the Queen City. 

Friday, Oct. 6, the Hola Charlotte Festival, one of the most prominent Hispanic Heritage Month events in the region returns to Uptown for the 11th year in a row. 

“The Hola festival is the first major Hispanic festival in Uptown Charlotte,” said organizer Denise Coleman. “So it’s a big deal for us because we waited for a long time to be able to have the opportunity to celebrate with others, our heritage and to showcase our culture.” 

She says the festival has grown over the years. The latest Census data shows Charlotte had more than 127,000 Hispanic residents, representing 15 percent of the city’s population. And that number has likely grown. 

“It is constantly evolving,” Coleman said. “We’re seeing people from all over moving to Charlotte because of many different reasons: jobs, opportunities, the opportunity for many of them to open a business and to join the major corporations in Charlotte also. So, if you meet a Hispanic person nowadays, he or she can be coming from anywhere.” 

Saturday’s festival will kick off just before noon with performances from Charlotte dance company Rumbao Latin Dance and R. L. Dance. 

Then the parade of flags will take place, showcasing different countries in the Hispanic culture.

Coleman says they’ll dance for four blocks — from Brooklyn Village Avenue to Fourth Street along Tryon Street. 

“People like it when they’re just enjoying the festival and then all of a sudden see a performance that they were not expecting,” Coleman said. “It could be a Zumba class or a Samba from Brazil, and they’re inviting you to dance and be part of it. So that’s one of the things that we pride ourselves on when we ask the performers to be inviting and welcoming, to make sure that maybe you’re a little shy and you want to learn how to dance, and you don’t know how. And they’re super, super welcoming.” 

The free festival will take place Uptown beginning at noon.