Every year in April, millions of people visit San Antonio for the 11-day all-out celebration known as Fiesta. It celebrates hometown pride and is loved by locals and tourists alike.
But what is San Antonio Fiesta? Why should you care? And how can you best enjoy it?
Read more to find out why you need to experience Fiesta de San Antonio!
San Antonio Fiesta started over 100 years ago in 1891. It was originally akin to Memorial Day: it started as a way to honor fallen soldiers from the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. It was originally just the Battle of Flowers parade. Back then, the parade was a series of bicycles and carriages that passed in front of the Alamo, where participants would throw flower blossoms at one another.
Now, that parade is such a big deal to the city that it's considered a municipal holiday. Work and school across the city are closed so everyone can enjoy the parade. Last year, over 350,000 people attended.
Want to learn more about the Battle of the Flowers parade? Check out our article here.
Of course, Fiesta is way, way bigger than just the Battle of the Flowers today – there are over 100 events across those 11 days. And it's one of the nation's largest festivals.
San Antonio Fiesta attracts people from all over the city, all over Texas, and all over the world. And that's because it has something for everyone.
Are you a huge history buff? Try attending the Pilgrimage to the Alamo – a solemn procession that places wreaths at the Alamo to tribute heroes of the battle.
Do you love food? Try the Taste of New Orleans for a delicious Cajun feast.
Or how about exploring another culture? Then try attending "A Day in Old Mexico and Charreada", where participants wear traditional clothes and celebrate Charreada, a competition involving horse reining and bull riding.
Or you could attend Fiesta Gartenfest, a German-style fiesta event. You can experience German entertainment, food, and beer.
And, of course, if you like parades, you have more than enough options: the famous Battle of the Flowers Parade, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade located on the beautiful San Antonio Riverwalk, and the evening Fiesta Flambeau Parade are some of the festival's main events.
If you're a local and want to celebrate where you reside or where you're from, try one of the neighborhood-specific events. These include Alamo Heights Night, King William Fair, and Taste of the Northside.'
So, in a nutshell, Fiesta has a little bit of everything for everyone – and for every budget. Many events are completely free to attend!
With over 100 events, it can be hard to know what's worth going to. Here, we've listed a few of our favorite events to offer up some suggestions.
Start out your fiesta right by attending the Fiesta Oyster Bake. Typically the opening weekend of Fiesta, this event has it all: music, food, and a carnival to boot!
And it's all for a good cause – taking place on the campus of St. Mary's University, proceeds from the festival raise money for student scholarships at the university and support the University and Alumni Association.
The event has five different stages, so there's something for everyone: rock, country, Tejano, R&B, and pop music. There are over 70 different food and drink booths, and every year 100,000 oysters are sold (baked, raw, and fried – there's all kinds available).
This event, simply referred to as NIOSA by locals (said knee-oh-sah) is a four-night event held in downtown San Antonio at the historic La Villita area. Similar to the Oyster Bake but much bigger, it has over 200 food and drink booths, 14 music areas, and 15 themed areas.
Most of these themed areas help celebrate the city's cultural diversity. It includes the French Quarter, Irish Flats, Mexican Market, Saurkraut Bend, South of the Border, Villa Espana, China Town, and the catch-all International Walkway. No matter what your ethnicity or cultural background, NIOSA welcomes everyone for a huge cultural celebration.
And all proceeds go to the San Antonio Conservation Society, so it helps preserve parks and historic properties throughout the city.
Of course, no Fiesta list would be complete without mentioning the famous parade that started the whole thing: the Battle of the Flowers Parade. We've already covered most of the information about this event above, but did you know it's the only parade in the US produced entirely by women?
Here's an insider tip: purchase tickets on their website so you can have a reserved seat and not have to worry about being able to see all of the floats on the parade route.
Obviously, as with any outdoor festival, you're going to want to wear comfortable shoes and plenty of sunscreen. But you should also remember to dress up!
Many Fiesta-goers dress to impress, wearing colorful clothes, Mexican dresses, and flower crowns. And if you don't have these things, you'll be sure to find some local vendors along the way that will sell them to you.
One thing you'll definitely notice is all of the medals. What's that all about?
Fiesta medals are sort of like the beads of Mardi Gras - they're a symbol of the celebration. Each event will have a unique medal each year, so by collecting these medals, you can show off just how many Fiesta events you've been to!
Of course, it's not only for events. Many businesses get in on the fun and sell them, too. Or some will sell medals to their employees as a sort of company pride. And, of course, there are some that are so rare they aren't sold, but rather won (the Pearl is notorious for these types of medals).
If you want to learn more about Fiesta medal culture, check out our article.
This year, San Antonio Fiesta takes places from April 18th to April 28th, and we hope you're now just as excited as we are!
Be sure to attend this special event that's Puro San Antonio! Do you want to create your own medal to make this Fiesta one to remember? We can offer you a free quote and help you make a special medal, whether it's your first or your hundredth.