Like clockwork ever year, April comes, and the city of San Antonio explodes in cascarones and celebration for Fiesta. This year marks the 125th anniversary, and over the next two weeks, official Fiesta events will be taking place across the city. For newcomers, the sheer number of Fiesta events can be daunting. To that end, we have put together the top events to attend.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but it will help you navigate the colorful waters of Fiesta. See the complete list of events on the official Fiesta website.
Fiesta Oyster Bake
Known as "the heartbeat of Fiesta," the oyster bake is the party that kicks off Fiesta. There are five stages (country, Tejano, rock, hip-hop, children's, and pop) where guests can hear artists ranging from Kevin Fowler to Chamillionaire. Over 70,000 people come each year to drink and see the live shows, gorge on all the delicious food, and enjoy the firework displays. The "oyster shots" and baked oysters are the highlights, but also try the turkey legs and chopped brisket tacos. April 15 and 16.
Taste of New Orleans
For three nights, San Antonians can pretend they are in the Big Easy as they dance in second line parades and listen to zydeco and jazz. Foodies rave about this event, and it's not hard to see why. Vendors will be selling popular Cajun and Creole dishes like gumbo, beignets, crawfish, boudin, cracklins, etouffee, and so much more. There are also many activities for children like face painting and a play area. April 15 through 17.
Fiesta Arts Fair
Artists from around the country are invited to participate in the Fiesta Arts Fair. This event is one of the biggest art fairs in the country. Hosted by the Southwest School of Art, the event showcases jewelry, metal work, glass work, sculpture, digital media, and much more. One highlight is the Children's Art Garden, where kids can try their hand at various arts-and-crafts projects. Attendees are also able to purchase select art while enjoying great music and food like paletas and mangonada. April 16 and 17.
With its ribald humor and campy antics, Cornyation is a sketch show that describes itself as "the raunchiest, cheapest event of Fiesta." This event started as part of NIOSA in 1951, but was canceled by organizers after being deemed too irreverent. Luckily, the event was revived more than a decade later and continues to be a fun and indecent night of Fiesta. It takes place at the Majestic Theatre and tickets to the shows always sell out, so we recommend buying them sooner rather than later. April 19 through 21.
A Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA)
Almost 90,000 people come out for NIOSA every night. Expect the crowds to be huge, but if you want to minimize them, try going on Tuesday or Wednesday, as Thursday is college night and Friday draws a huge party crowd as well. There are over 200 food and drink vendors at this event, and part of the fun is viewing all the decorated booths. NIOSA is also one of the best events to see all the insanely elaborate custom hats (sombreros with Christmas lights are a typical sighting) that Fiesta attendees create. April 19 through 22.
Ford Mariachi Festival
Everyone has seen the mariachi bands who play for diners along the River Walk. From 7 to 10 pm for four nights, folklorico dance groups and mariachi bands will perform in floating barges on the river. Find a margarita to sip on while watching the performances from a nearby restaurant or bar. April 19 through 22.
Battle of the Flowers Parade
Everything about Battle of the Flowers is impressive. It's one of the largest parades in the country and is the founding (and biggest) Fiesta event. It's also organized exclusively by local female volunteers. But even without those accomplishments, the parade would still be a great spectacle full of costumes, flowers, floats, fireworks, and fun. April 22.
King William Fair
Taking place on streets of the historic King William neighborhood, this event kicks off with a quirky, small parade in the morning. The rest of the day is for the fair. There are many vendors as well as live music stages and street performances. This event has a little something for everyone. Expect to see attendees in full Fiesta attire of outrageous hats, medals, and decorations. April 23.
Fiesta Flambeau Parade
This nighttime parade is the largest illuminated parade in the country. Inspired by the nighttime parades in New Orleans during Mardi Gras, the parade's original organizers wanted to capture the magic of Fiesta at night. Torches illuminate the parade path, and virtually all parade participants and their floats have lighting as well. The result is dazzling. Flambeau is not as boisterous as Battle of Flowers, but it is just as beautiful. April 23.
Fiesta Pooch Parade
This one's for the dogs. The 18th annual event parades costumed pooches through Alamo Heights for a fun, quirky Fiesta experience. The parade starts at 9:15 am, but competitive pups should arrive early for the ever-popular costume contest. April 23.
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