A week-long festival celebrating one of San Antonio's signature achievements kicks off today with a series of (mostly free) events for the whole family.
This year, the City of San Antonio’s annual World Heritage Festival is celebrating the fifth anniversary of the city's historic missions being declared a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization — the only place in Texas bestowed with such an honor.
For 2020, the party is moving to virtual and socially distanced events, giving locals and visitors the opportunity to learn more about San Antonio’s five Spanish Colonial missions: San Jose, San Juan, Espada, Concepcion, and The Alamo. This year also coincides with the 300th anniversary of Mission San Jose, known as the Queen of the Missions.
"The World Heritage Festival, even as a virtual event, is an opportunity for us to come together and reflect on our unique history and heritage, and continue sharing traditions and our stories with younger generations," said councilwoman Rebecca J. Viagran in a release.
Starting September 8 and running through September 13, World Heritage Festival 2020 hosts Virtual Tour de Las Misiones Bike Ride, Walk & Run, a self-guided event that encourages participants to get out and bike, walk, or run through a tour of the historic missions. Tours must be completed September 8-13, and you must register online to receive a commemorative finisher’s medal, T-shirt, 2020 World Heritage Festival Fiesta Medal, runner’s bib, and keepsake passport. The tour is free, but registration ranges from $25-$35.
Also beginning today is "Bridging Cultures: Photography Exhibition of the Classical Gardens in Suzhou, China," a free photography exhibition on display at Mission San Jose throughout the fall. The show is hosted in conjunction with Suzhou, China — San Antonio's sister city for more than a decade. The images capture Suzhou's Classical Gardens, which are also an UNESCO World Heritage Site.
On Wednesday, September 9, tune into YouTube from 2-3 pm to catch Heritage Conservation: It’s Not Just for Buildings!, a free presentation from UTSA professors William Dupont and Dr. Angela Lombardi about the history and conservation of the missions.
Missing trivia night? Take part in a special Virtual San Antonio Missions Trivia Night on Thursday, September 10. Register for the free event here. Trivia begins at 7:30 pm.
Head inside (virtually) the Mission San Jose Church to hear the Agarita Chamber Players perform Virtual Classical Concert: Celebrating Mission San Jose. Watching via YouTube @worldheritageSA or Facebook Live @worldheritagefestival.
And close out the week with an outdoor mass at the Mission San Jose on Sunday, September 13, at 8 am. El Camino de San Antonio: Caring for Creation Outdoor Mass will be performed by Archbishop Gustavo Garcia-Siller in honor of the mission's tricentennial celebration.