World Heritage Festival

5-day festival celebrates San Antonio's famous missions

5-day festival celebrates San Antonio's famous missions

The Alamo, mission, San Antonio, November 2012
World Heritage Festival runs September 6-10. Photo by Paco Montoya

San Antonio will celebrate the second annual World Heritage Festival this week with a full calendar of events. Established in September 2016 to commemorate the San Antonio Missions' designation as a UNESCO World Heritage site, the five-day event provides an opportunity to celebrate the city’s rich history, heritage, and culture.

Festivities begin with a press conference at The Alamo on Wednesday, September 6. Featured events include the opening of the San Antonio Story Exhibit, a sunset picnic at mission San Juan Farm, a bike and walk tour of the missions, and the Mission Pachanga Music Festival. The weekend will close with a celebratory mass of thanksgiving at Mission Concepcion on Sunday, September 10, at 10 am.

“San Antonio’s World Heritage missions are a significant part of what gives our city its historical and cultural context,” Mayor Ron Nirenberg said. “San Antonio is a global city. I’m grateful the World Heritage Festival has become an annual event that gives our community an opportunity to celebrate our unique legacy and heritage.”

Built by Franciscan friars in the 18th century, the five frontier mission complexes represent the Spanish Crown’s efforts to colonize, evangelize, and defend the new frontier. The decorative elements of the churches illustrate the interweaving of Spanish and Coahuiltecan cultures, combining Catholic symbols with indigenous designs inspired by nature. In 2015, UNESCO selected the missions as a World Heritage site based on their collective geographical and functional relationship in the San Antonio River Basin.

The five-day festival is a collaborative effort between the City of San Antonio, Bexar County, San Antonio River Authority, The Alamo, Mission Heritage Partners, Las Misiones, and the National Park Service. Proceeds from the events will support nonprofit organizations and projects that preserve, maintain, promote, and connect.

Here is the full schedule of events:

  • September 6: World Heritage Festival Press Conference
  • September 6: Opening of the San Antonio Story Exhibit
  • September 7: Sunset Picnic at Mission San Juan Farm
  • September 7-8: Living Heritage Symposium
  • September 8: Restored by Light at Mission Concepcion
  • September 9: Tour De Las Misiones Bike Ride and 5K & 10K Walk at Mission Park Pavilion
  • September 9: Mission Pachanga Music Festival at Mission Park Pavilion
  • September 10: Celebratory Mass at Mission Concepcion