Mission Marquee Plaza/ Facebook

From Dr. Carmen Tafolla's This River Here to Miss Congeniality, San Antonio has long provided fodder for poets and moviemakers alike. Now, the two art forms are coming together during a spectacular cultural event at the Mission Marquee Plaza.

The City of San Antonio World Heritage Office will once again salute rhythm and rhyme during Viva Poesía: Palabras, Música, y Cultura on April 1, 6-10 pm. The annual bash, made possible in part by the City's Department of Arts and Culture, kicks off National Poetry Month by honoring the artistic influence of local poets.

In honor of the Mission Drive-In's 75th anniversary, this year's theme will be "For Reels! A Poetic Tribute to the Movies." Guests can hear original works from a star-studded lineup, including San Antonio's past Poet Laureates Tafolla, Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson, Jenny Brown, and Dr. Octavio Quintanilla. Local spoken word artists Eddie Vega, Rooster Martinez, Arrie Porter, Isabel Brown, and Ollie McCrary will also perform pieces created especially for the event, celebrating the magic and nostalgia of films.

During the event, Department of Arts and Culture Director, Krystal Jones, will introduce San Antonio's new Poet Laureate, Nephtali De León, to San Antonio's literati. Emceed by Anthony "The Poet" Flores, Viva Poesía will also feature live performances by local comedians, the Wonder Theatre, the San Antonio Philharmonic Brass Ensemble, Como Las Movies, and more.

The family friendly event will also offer engaging activities for the younger set, like make-and-take art activities and interactive workshops led by local artists and poets. Plus, pop-up vendors will serve grub and drinks throughout the evening.

The event is free and open to the public, with free on-site parking. More info about Mission Marquee Plaza and its jam-packed 2023 season can be found online.

"Vast artistry, rich culture, and vibrant traditions make San Antonio a city filled with diverse creativity," said District 3 Councilwoman Phyllis Viagran via a release." The entire family is invited to experience the sights, sounds, and festivities of Viva Poesía…."

Photo courtesy of Taste of the Republic

San Antonio's official Fiesta foodie event crowns very first king and queen


Attention royal watchers! A pair of new monarchs have ascended to the throne. We suspect they’ll be less prone to tell-alls than a certain other aristocratic pair.

On April 20, Doc Watkins and Ara Celi will begin their reign as the King and Queen of the Republic. Although Taste of the Republic has wowed guests as the VIP culinary kickoff to Fiesta San Antonio for six years, this will be the event’s first coronation.

Doc Watkins is familiar to any San Antonio music lover. Not only is he an accomplished jazz pianist, but he also owns the swanky underground nightclub Jazz, TX, at the Pearl.

Ara Celi made her name in acting, snagging up roles in blockbusters like American Beauty, Machete, and Bruce Almighty. Dapper Dans across town might also know her for her chain of upscale barbershops, Matador Men’s Grooming.

The coronation adds to the electric atmosphere already promised by Taste of the Republic. The event recently announced an all-star 12 local celebrity chef, who will throw down with founding chef Brian West to serve food from the six culinary regions of Texas.

In a season of firsts, Taste of the Republic will also move to The Alamo this year, coinciding with the opening of the new Ralston Family Collections Center of historical artifacts, including the vast Alamo collection of “In the Air Tonight” singer Phil Collins.

Those wanting a sneak peek at all the excitement can join Watkins as he hosts a special performance at Jazz, TX, on March 26. A fundraiser for Fiesta San Antonio and the Remember the Alamo Foundation, the intimate event will include premium seating packages with a meet-and-greet, a signed copy of Watkin’s latest album, and bottle service. Tickets, ranging from $99-$310, are available online.

Photo by Prod 77 Luminaria/ Facebook

Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival dazzles San Antonio with new fall date


One of San Antonio’s most dazzling happenings is preparing to once again light up downtown. San Antonio nonprofit Luminaria has revealed the date for the 2023 Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival and is seeking artists to illuminate one of fall’s most anticipated events.

For its 15th anniversary year, the festivities will move from November to October 21 from 6 pm-midnight. Featured works and performances will snake around Hemisfair and the Henry B. González Convention Center, highlighting Alamo City’s diverse arts scene.

Along with the announcement, the nonprofit opened applications for artists. The festival accepts submissions from various disciplines, including performance art, digital art, spoken word, film, sculpture, theatre, and dance.

A panel of local art experts will assess each application, considering inclusivity and whether the work will be premiering at the fest, among other factors. Applications must be submitted by March 26. The final lineup will be announced in the fall.

Last year, the festival hosted 7,000 attendees, giving exposure to more than 250 individual artists. Although some of the creators hailed from as far as Europe and South America, the majority are based in the San Antonio area. More information can be found online.

“As a true signature event for the city, this is a wonderful opportunity for the talented and diverse artists of San Antonio to have professional exposure and spark their own creative juices,” said Krystal Jones, director of the City’s Department of Arts & Culture, via arelease.

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Book Festival

San Antonio Book Festival uncovers literary luminaries for 2023 event


Whether you're a fan of YA, horror, romance, or poetry, it's time to book it. The San Antonio Book Festivalis back on April 15 with a lineup sure to delight local bibliophiles.

Now in its 11th year, the free festival will take place at the Central Library and University of Texas San Antonio campus downtown from 9 am-5 pm. Alamo City readers can participate in dozens of activities, including author presentations, panel discussions, book sales, signings, and children's and teen activations.

This year's lineup features literary luminaries ranging from acclaimed novelists to young adult scribes. Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award finalist Rebecca Makkai will promote her latest book, I Have Some Questions for You. Matthew Desmond, a MacArthur Fellow and Pulitzer Prize winner, will participate in the festival with his new nonfiction book Poverty, By America. National Book Award honorees Marytza Rubio and Alejandro Varela will additionally be on hand.

Additional award-winning authors participating in the festival include Pulitzer Prize–winning Geraldine Brooks with her book Horse; 2022, MacArthur Fellow Kiese Laymon and his memoir Heavy;New York Times bestselling author Stephen Graham Jones with new thriller Don't Fear the Reaper; and Pulitzer Prize–winning Jane Smiley with a new novel, A Dangerous Business,.

Several children's, middle-grade, and young adult authors like New York Times bestsellers Adam Silvera and Melissa de la Cruz will enchant audiences. The esteemed lineup also includes Brandon Hobson, Christina Soontornvat, Claudia Guadalupe Martinez, Shannon Hale, and LeUyen Pham.

Texas' literary heritage is covered with Deborah D.E.E.P. Mouton, Elizabeth McCracken, Jeff Guinn, and San Antonio's Lewis F. Fisher and Marcia Argueta Mickelson. Festival favorite Sandra Cisneros will promote her first published collection of poems in twenty-eight years, Woman Without Shame / Mujer sin vergüenza.

According to San Antonio Book Festival Literary Director Anna Dobben, there is a particular focus on genre fiction. For the first time, the festivities will incorporate a panel devoted to romance books.

"The past year in US publishing has been vibrant and varied. Readers sought romance books in greater numbers, thanks to the rise of BookTok (TikTok, but for book lovers)," says Dobben via a release. "There's also been a trend towards thriller and horror lately, with authors using the genre to discuss trauma and mental health, likely because the past few years have been so anxiety-provoking."

Hungry readers can purchase street foods at trucks or nosh at three Book It! Luncheons with Ada Calhoun, Dean King, and Reza Asla. Kicking off the celebration will be a new 21-plus event on April 14, Lit Happens. An ode to the narrative word and community, the party will kick off with an outdoor poetry activation featuring Jose Olivarez and San Antonio Poet Laureate Andrea "Vocab" Sanderson at 6 pm. Guests can also take in Worth Repeating at Texas Public Radio, a storytelling session similar to The Moth's events and a Literary Death Match with Texas-connected writers V. Castro, Rubén Degollado, Bobby Finger, and Jonny Garza Villa.

The full author lineup can be viewed on the festival's website. Locally owned and operated Nowhere Bookshop will again be the Festival's official bookseller.

"What makes the Book Festival a perfect San Antonio event is that we truly offer something for everyone," said Lilly Gonzalez, the festival's executive director. "From the subjects in our books—heavy-hitting nonfiction dealing with environmental issues, immigration stories, and wealth inequality—to the brand new Friday night event that we're calling LIT HAPPENS, designed as a block party for book lovers, the Book Festival is for every San Antonian."

Photo courtesy of Fredstock Music Festival

Fredstock Music Festival

San Antonio College’s Music Business Program will present their annual music festival, Fredstock, featuring six bands, food trucks, a beer booth, and local vendors.

Fredstock was created to give music business students a hands-on experience on what it is like to host a music festival; it is almost completely student-led.

Photo by Ric Vasquez

The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center presents Tejano Conjunto Festival

The Tejano Conjunto Festival is the first and longest running conjunto festival in the country and is internationally recognized as the most influential event for this beloved and popular Texas musical tradition. Guests can hear the very best in conjunto music from all across the many different styles played regionally in Texas

The line-up for the 41st annual festival will include headliners Ricky Naranjo y Los Gamblers. Tony Tigre Saenz, Los Texmaniacs featuring special guest Flaco Jimenez, and more than 20 other performers.

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6 splurge-worthy spas for max relaxation in San Antonio

Weekend plans sorted

It can be difficult to embark on a "treat yourself" spree when tallying up the costs of self-care. Skimming the extensive (and often expensive) menu of available services at any given spa, special treatments can feel like a waste of money. Thankfully for San Antonians, we're surrounded by local spas offering much more than the standard massage or facial. From award-winning hotel spas to salons offering boutique beauty services, here are six San Antonio spas where the end result is worth every penny.

Mokara Spa
As the city's only Forbes four-star spa, the Mokara is widely recognized as one of the best spas in the world, not just San Antonio. And you don't have to be a hotel guest to enjoy a service at the 17,000 square foot spa itself, where prices will cost $100 and up, depending on the service. Spring for the signature facial treatment, where a trained esthetician will customize a skincare regimen to your own personal needs. They also have treatments like body wraps, pedicures, manicures, massages, customized spa packages, and more. Book a service here.

Loma de Vida Spa
Looking for a way to treat a mom-to-be in your life for Mother's Day? Treat her to the Babymoon experience at La Cantera Resort's Loma de Vida spa. The experience include's a couples massage, a baby belly facial for the mom in question, and a chance for her to take some time to float peacefully in the spa's outdoor pool and enjoy lunch or a snack in one of the private cabanas. The entire experience is $555, but the spa offers weekday discounts and those Hill Country views are worth it. Book a service here.

The Thompson San Antonio Hotel Spa
It's hard not to feel like Goldilocks when entering the Thompson Hotel spa, because everything is justright from the second you walk in. Pricing for spa services range upwards from $100, but the spa offers some cost-effective spa packages (the Relax and Recharge package includes a 50-minute massage and 50-minute facial for $350, for example), or the Thompson Hotel spa membership, which includes benefits like 2 complimentary day passes a month for friends and family, 20 percent off spa services, and more. Book a service here.

The Spa at Eilan
If you're looking for a couple's treatment, the Eilan spa has a lot of options, from the Soothe for Two Rasul service (essentially a private steam and aromatherapy session), a couple's hot stone massage, or a men's facial. The spa at Eilan also has a wide assortment of spa packages that include a facial and massage in the set price. If you've never tried a body wrap before, the Eilan spa has a signature Hanakasumi body treatment, which features the calming scents of cherry blossom and lotus flower. Prices start around $110, and you can book a service here.

Folawns Medical Spa and Salon
If you're feeling a bit sluggish after a long week, you might want to try something other than a standard facial or massage. Folawns Medical Spa and Salon offers vitamin B12 shots that'll give you a boost that's both more natural and more convenient than having to stop at Starbucks. For only $20 a shot, it also helps boost your immunity, too. Folawns also offers other treatments like hydrafacials, IV treatments, laser hair removal and more. Book a service here.

Beauty Haus SA
Have you ever felt like you walked straight into a TikTok reel? Beauty Haus SA's got you covered on that front, but they aren't just about the 'gram: The talented staff offers a wide assortment of relaxing treatments, from massages and facials to lash lifts, brow tints, lip plumpers, and more. This writer tried her first ever lash lift and tint at Beauty Haus. They're not kidding when they say you won't need mascara for at least 4-6 weeks, as long as you apply castor oil to your lashes. The starting price for the lash lift and tint starts at $75 dollars (prices vary based on the technician) but it's definitely a nice confidence booster. Book a service here.

New Hill Country wine school teaches Texans how to become aficionados


Texan wine enthusiasts and beginners wanting to test their skills or develop them further can now do so at a new Hill Country wine school led by an award-winning winery out in Hye, Texas.

William Chris Wine Co. (WCWC) has opened their William Chris Wine School with Wine and Spirit Education Trust (WSET) classes and a one-of-a-kind ambassador certification course beginning in April. The school is offering these courses not only to educate fellow Texans about the intricacies of wine, but also to provide inspirational experiences that help ignite their passion for it.

“WSET courses are designed to inspire and empower anyone looking to develop their wine knowledge—regardless of prior experience, and from enthusiasts to professionals,” said Director of Education Kelsey Kramer in a press release. “So, we encourage anyone to sign up for our WSET courses no matter their current level of wine knowledge.”

WCWC is the first Texas winery to provide these educational courses to industry peers and enthusiasts. They’ll offer two WSET level tracks with multiple classes; their beginner-level WSET Level 1 classes are open for registration for April 15 and May 15. The WSET Level 2 Award in Wines courses are for more experienced aficionados, and are centered around trying new wines from all over the world while also educating on wine theory, grape-growing techniques, and more. The level two classes are scheduled for May, June, and July.

Kramer added that over half of the William Chris team have successfully passed the WSET Level 2 Award in Wines courses.

“Our ultimate goal, as always, is to increase the standard of knowledge for those in the Texas wine industry,” she said. “Anyone who participates in a course with us supports this goal and the future success of the industry as a whole.”

Though Texas wine is not included in the WSET curriculum, the wine school has their own solution for that. They are offering an exclusive Texas Wine Ambassador Certification program that focuses solely on wine-making and grape-growing in our own state. Their first certification class is scheduled for April 22.

More information about the William Chris Wine School and its classes can be found on their website.

Goofiness keeps Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves light on its feet

Movie Review

In the franchise world in which we now live, movie studios are always looking for the next big thing that will ensure fans come flocking to the theater. The role-playing game Dungeons & Dragons has gotten a pop cultural boost in recent years thanks to the Netflix show Stranger Things, and now – just shy of its 50th anniversary – it's getting its own blockbuster movie, Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves.

The film premiered at South by Southwest (SXSW) as the festival's opening pick. The somewhat complex story centers on two of the titular thieves, Edgin (Chris Pine) and Holga (Michelle Rodriguez), who lead a group of rogues who make a living by stealing, but only from those who deserve it. One such altruistic mission, a relic that can bring back the dead, leads to the pair getting caught and put in jail, separating Edgin from his daughter, Kira (Chloe Coleman).

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Michelle Rodriguez and Chris Pine in Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves

Fellow thief Forge (Hugh Grant) agrees to look after her, but after a daring escape, Edgin and Holga discover that Forge is even more of a scoundrel than they thought, rising to the title of Lord in their absence with the help of the sorceress Sofina (Daisy Head), and poisoning Kira’s mind against them. They must gather the rest of the team, including Simon (Justice Smith) and Doric (Sophia Lillis), to try to take him down and recover the relic once and for all.

Written and directed by John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein, with help from co-writer Michael Gilio, the film has the unenviable task of turning the famously dense game into something that pleases both fanatics and those unfamiliar with its many characters, creatures, and locations. It’s clear the filmmakers are trying to strike a balance between the two, loading the story with terms they barely attempt to explain while at the same time making the movie as goofy as possible.

Only the second of those two approaches truly works. The problem the filmmakers run into is that this is an introductory film that barely seems to care about introducing its characters. A lengthy speech by Edgin at the beginning attempts to do that, but is staged in such a way that the humor of sequence takes precedence over the details of the people. The only reason the characters wind up likable is because of the sheer amount of time spent with them and the actors’ performances.

Well, that and the comedy sprinkled throughout the film. If Daley, Goldstein, and Gilio do anything right, it’s not taking the material too seriously. The world has already seen Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones, so adding in funny elements like the wise-cracking Edgin, a supremely fat dragon, and more keeps the film from getting lost in its own minutiae. Not all the jokes land, but 75-80 percent of them do, which is enough to keep the film buoyant.

Pine, as he’s shown in the recent Star Trek and Wonder Woman films, has charm to spare. He occupies this particular role extremely well, and so even if you can’t remember his character’s name, his performance carries the film. Rodriguez is an acquired taste, but her surly demeanor and physical prowess works for her here. The supporting actors shine at times, but the film doesn’t showcase them enough to make them stand out.

While miles better than the reviled 2000 Dungeons & Dragons, Honor Among Thieves is a merely okay beginning for a possible new franchise. There’s some excitement to be had and it stays light on its feet thanks to the comedy, but more attention paid to the story is warranted if they decide to make sequels.


Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves opens in theaters on March 31.