A Guide: How to VIVA FIESTA across San Antonio without losing your chanclas
San Antonio’s celebration of culture, music, charities and chicken-on-a-stick is making its long-awaited comeback. It’s the first time the 11-day celebration will be held in its entirety since 2019 due to the pandemic.
Which events are the right ones for you? If you said “all of them,” let’s party. But I get it, Fiesta can be overwhelming, it’s impossible to do it all because there are literally 110 events.
Fiesta begins Thursday, March 31 with its kickoff event “Fiesta Fiesta” in Hemisfair. Nearly all of the traditional events will be back in full swing after 2020’s Fiesta events were first postponed and then canceled. The next year, in 2021, had a modified Fiesta in the summer instead of April.
“This city is about to erupt like a family reunion that we haven’t had in a very long time and that’s the part that I’m most looking forward to is seeing everybody’s smiles and coming back together again,” San Antonio Mayor Ron Nirenberg said during a council meeting earlier this month “It is something that I think we all deserve, especially those who have been working so hard on the front lines of virtually every sector of this community to get it to where we can celebrate again.”
Fiesta events are run by individual non-profits that use the money earned from those events to fund necessary programs. But the entire series is organized by the Fiesta Commission.
While it’s not a complete list, here’s a few of this year’s events; we’ve divided them up a little bit:
The Kickoff: FIESTA FIESTA
“Fiesta Fiesta” is the event that starts it all. It’s where the hair is let down, cascarones are cracked, and an ugly tie or two gets cut in half. It’s free and is taking over Hemisfair. This is also the place to beef up your Fiesta medal collection at Pin Pandemonium.
- Fiesta Fiesta - Thursday, March 31. 4:00PM - 10:00 PM - Hemisfair - Fireworks: 9:50 PM
Don’t bring a cloud to rain on my (half dozen) parades
There’s no better way to show off your San Antonio pride than sitting in a foldable chair that you chained to a light pole last week to claim your spot and then yelling at a Fiesta royal on a parade float to show you their shoes (it’s a thing.)
The parades are the core of Fiesta. They’re so big that the Friday parade for the Battle of Flowers is an official city holiday even for school districts. The Battle of Flowers is the original event that started Fiesta in the 1890s
The Saturday night illuminated parade — the Fiesta Flambeau — has enough lights to overwhelm the Texas power grid and also put Disneyland’s Main Street Electrical Parade to shame.
- Texas Cavaliers River Parade - Monday, April 4, 7:00PM - The Riverwalk
- Battle of Flowers Parade - Friday, April 8, 9:30 AM - Downtown San Antonio
- Alamo Heights Pooch Parade - Saturday, April 9, 7:45 AM - Alamo Heights
- King William Fair Parade - Saturday, April 9, 9:00 AM - at the King William Fair
- Fiesta Flambeau Parade - Saturday, April 9, 7:00 PM - Downtown San Antonio
The Cavaliers, Battle of Flowers, and Flambeau all have tickets that can be purchased at their website. The Battle of Flowers and Flambeau do not run along Broadway this year and have new parade routes that begin on Main Avenue.
Kings, queens and royal clout
Fiesta has more royalty than a deck of cards. There’s King Antonio; El Rey Feo, El Rey Fido, Miss Fiesta, Queen of the Order of the Alamo, Charro Queen, the Queen of Soul. The list goes on. Most will have their ceremonial coronations during the first few days of Fiesta.
Food, festivals and frenzies
Fiesta’s holy trinity of gastronomy includes gorditas; corn, that is either in a cup or roasted; and chicken-on-a-stick (if it doesn’t have a jalapeno at the top of the stick, you’re doing it wrong.)
There's plenty more food options than those, of course. If you find yourself hungry at a Fiesta event, that’s your own fault, guey, If you love food booths, music, and unexpectedly running into everyone you’ve ever met, check these out:
- Alamo Heights Night - Friday, April 1, 5:30 PM - University of the Incarnate Word
- Night in Old San Antonio; NIOSA- Tuesday, April 5 - Fri. April 8, 5:30 PM - La Villita
- Taste of The Northside - Thursday, April 7 - 6:30 PM - Dominion Country Club
- Taste of New Orleans - Friday, April 1 - Sun. April 3- Sunken Gardens Theater
- Oyster Bake - Friday, April 1 & Sat. April 2 - St. Mary’s University
- St. Philip's College CultureFest and Rib Cook-Off Thursday, April 7, 10:00 AM - St. Philip’s College
- King William Fair - Saturday, April 9 - 8:00 AM - King William Neighborhood
- Fiesta de los Reyes - Friday, April 1 - Sun. April 10 - Market Square
- Fiesta Carnival - Thursday, March 31 - Sun. April 10 - Alamodome
Songs, dance and culture:
A sweet serenade from the band festivals and cultural concerts will get you amped up.
- Mariachi Festival - Tuesday, April 5 - 6:00PM - Riverwalk
- Jazz Band Festival - Saturday, April 9, 8:00 AM - 5:00 PM - St. Mary’s University
- Battle of Flowers band festival, Thursday, April 7, 5:00 PM - Alamo Stadium
- Fredstock Music Fest - Friday, April 8th 2:00 PM - San Antonio College
- Chaparral Music & Heritage Festival - Saturday, April 2, 12:00 PM - Hemisfair
- Pinatas in the Barrio - Saturday, April 2, 12:00 PM - Guadalupe Plaza
- A Day in Old Mexico and Charreada - Sunday, April 3, 11:00 AM Rancho Del Charro
Run off those gorditas
There are multiple fitness events to help you shred the “Fiesta 15” which is the number of pounds you gain by the time Fiesta is over.
- Fiesta Fitfest - Friday April 8 - Sunday April 10 - UTSA
- Fiesta Run to Remember - Saturday, April 9 - Comanche Park
- Chromosome 18 Starfish Dash 5K - Saturday, April 9 - UT Health San Antonio
- OLLU 5K Confetti Walk and Run - Saturday, April 2, Our Lady of The Lake
San Antonio’s LGBTQ+ community unites behind multiple Fiesta gatherings for a gay old time. Some of these are the most outrageous and outlandish of the entire schedule of events.
For instance: If you like drama and drag queens, Fiesta Cornyation will send you on a whirlwind of salacious, scandalous satire that takes the politically preposterous through the wringer by means of cathartic caricatures. It’s a stage production at its core with a cavalcade of whimsically witty skits produced by volunteer designers.
- Fiesta Cornyation - Six showings; Tues. April 5 - Thurs. April 8 - Empire Theater
- The WEBB Party - Friday, April 1, 7:00 PM - The Aztec Theater
- Chili Queens Cook Off - Sunday. April 2, 3:00 PM - The Bonham Exchange
- Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil- Saturday, April 9, 7:00 PM - San Antonio Botanical Garden
Military City, USA
We wouldn’t be “Military City, USA” if there weren’t Fiesta events honoring the military,
- Air Force at The Alamo - Monday, April 4 - 11:00 AM
- Army Day at The Alamo - Tuesday, April 5 - 11:00 AM
- Marines at The Alamo - Wednesday, April 6 - 11:00 AM
- Navy Day at the Alamo - Thursday, April 7 - 11:00 AM
- All Veterans Memorial Service - Sunday, April 10 - 1:00 PM - Veterans Plaza
Pups, pooches and four-legged friends!
Animal fans have their pick of events including El Rey Fido which raises money for the San Antonio Humane Society and then there’s also the Alamo Heights Pooch Parade listed above.
- El Rey Fido Coronation - Saturday, April 2, 10:00 AM - Hops & Hounds
- Festival De Animales - Saturday, April 9 & Sunday April 10, - San Antonio Zoo
Since we couldn’t list everything, the official Fiesta schedule is right here.