Photo courtesy of Red Bull

San Antonio’s premiere event to kick off Fiesta has arrived. The Red Bull Batalla is the biggest Spanish-language freestyle rap battle series that takes place all in one night on Thursday, April 20.

Eight of the best Spanish-language lyricists from the United States and Mexico – with championship titles to match – will battle it out on-stage in a bracket-style tournament from 9 pm to 2 am at Paper Tiger. In collaboration with the Fiesta San Antonio Commission, Red Bull has created their first-ever Red Bull Fiesta medal that will be available for the first 500 patrons at the event.

Initial confirmed participants in the championship bracket include:

  • Cuban, the 3rd place finalist in the 2022 Red Bull Batalla USA (from Texas)
  • Jordi, the 2022 USA Texas Regional Cup Winner (from Texas)
  • Oner, the 2022 National Champion of Red Bull Batalla USA (from Florida)
  • Reverse, the 2021 National Champion of Red Bull Batalla USA (from Florida)
  • Yartzi, the two-time National Champion of Red Bull Batalla (from Puerto Rico)
  • Lobo, the 2019 Red Bull Batalla de Los Gallos Mexico National Champion (from Mexico)
  • Yoiker, the 2022 National Champion of Red Bull Batalla México (from Mexico)

“Fluffy the Host” aka Omar Cadena and DJ Lobo will guide the night’s events with additional talent from opener DJ Rudy. Texas Latin DJ collective Peligrosa will conclude the evening with a “special collaborative performance” according to a press release.

While the competition takes place, guests can enjoy curated Red Bull cocktails, as well as free haircuts and beard trims during a first-come, first-serve pop-up barbershop experience with several local barbers. A few featured barbers include Faded Culture’sSergio Barron and Adrian Barron, Oscar Cantu aka “Kurly Kutz” of Koo Kutz Barber Shop, and others.

More information and RSVP for the Red Bull Batalla Exhibición can be found on Eventbrite.

Fiesta San Antonio/ Facebook

6 cherished Fiesta traditions every beginner should know

Fiesta Traditions

If you're a San Antonio newcomer, Fiesta can be tricky to decipher. It's hard to make heads or tails of why the fashions are so outrageous or why everyone seems to go gaga over chicken on a stick. Still, there's no need to be baffled. Get in on the fun with this handy guide to some of the festival's most cherished traditions.

One of Fiesta's flirtiest traditions has its roots in China, where 13th-century nobility were gifted eggs stuffed with scented powder. When the custom made its way to Mexico, confetti filling made the favors a much more celebratory affair. While it takes seconds to crack cascarones, production is a year-long affair. Shops like the Cascarón Store have done big business creating custom-themed eggs. And volunteers with the Conservation Society of San Antonio spend every Thursday painting the thousands of shells that get shattered during a Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA).

Chicken on a stick

Meat served on skewers, of course, is no newfangled invention. Historians say it predates Turkey's Ottoman Empire. But in San Antonio, only one speared protein matters — a breaded chicken cutlet crowned by a whole jalapeño. Though it's difficult to pinpoint the exact origins of chicken on a stick, it's most closely associated with one man. A fixture of NIOSA since the '90s, J.J. Gonzales — aka Mr. Chicken — is now synonymous with what has become Fiesta's most iconic carnival treat.

Fiesta hats
Hats have always been a part of Fiesta. The grandeur of the carriages at the first Battle of Flowers was only matched by their riders' Gilded Age hats. These days, the headgear veers more ridiculous than elegant, with towering adornments ranging from paper mâché Alamos to corn dolly recreations of royal courts. Find them preening at the Woman's Club of San Antonio's annual hat contest and luncheon or strolling the runways of almost every Fiesta event.

When selecting Fiesta gear, be sure to opt for a solid fabric. Those threads will soon be stretched to the limit by a cluster of imaginative medals. The tradition dates to the '40s when the reigning King Antonio would delight children by tossing coins into the parade crowd. In 1971, Charles Orsinger took the idea further by punching holes in the celebratory change. Today, the military-style pins have their own economy — sold by businesses across town and traded feverishly on online groups.

Though San Antonio society has crowned various kings and queens since at least the 1800s, the Order of the Alamo coronated the first Fiesta queen in the 1900s. The Texas Cavaliers followed suit with King Antonio in the 1920s. Although several unofficial royals are part of the 11-day affair, the Fiesta San Antonio Commission only recognizes nine sovereigns, including the people's king, el Rey Feo.

Show us your shoes!

The elaborately stoned and embroidered gowns worn on parade floats aren't exactly featherweight. Who can blame Fiesta royalty for wanting a sturdy foundation? Long ago, San Antonio's queens, princesses, and duchesses abandoned stilettos in favor of more sensible tennis shoes and boots. The crowd soon caught on to the secret, and soon "show us your shoes!" became the Battle of Flowers parade's signature cry. Today, the comfortable footwear — now highly embellished — has become a spectacle of its own.

A Night in Old San Antonio/ Facebook

A Night in Old San Antonio returns to enchant locals with new food and fun this April


Currently, in homes across the city, locals are busily crafting flower crowns, searching for new guayaberas, and dreaming of chicken on a stick. Fiesta San Antonio is just around the corner, and tickets are now on sale for one of the season’s most popular events.

The planners of A Night in Old San Antonio, affectionately referred to as NIOSA, have revealed the details of this year’s festival. The four-night celebration of Alamo City’s rich cultural heritage will be held April 25 through 28, 5:30-10:30 pm nightly, offering revelers more than 165 food, beverage, and entertainment booths; continuous live music, and the chance to snag up essential Fiesta souvenirs.

As usual, the affair will be held at La Villita Historic Arts Village District, taking full advantage of four acres of puro atmosphere. The grounds will be divided into 14 districts in homage to the city’s diverse identity, from a frontier town done up in Old West duds to a mural-filled zone honoring Spain.

The big news this year is that NIOSA is doing away with wristbands and returning to paper coupons. Although cash is the only accepted currency, ATMS will be scattered across the site so people can purchase sausage and medals to their heart’s content. In honor of its 75th anniversary, the Chili Queens will also return. The vendor’s origins at NIOSA date back to 1947 when volunteers would create replicas of the chili stands that were formerly scattered across Juarez Plaza.

As always, the event will benefit The Conservation Society’s work to preserve the San Antonio area’s historical properties and parks. From 2010 to 2020, NIOSA raised more than $12 million to help the 99-year organization continue its mission.

$20 advance entry tickets are available through April 28 online or at area H-E-B stores, Fort Sam Houston, Lackland Air Force Base, and Randolph Air Force Base. Tickets at the gate are $25, and children 12 and under are free.

Taste of the Republic/ Facebook

Fiesta kickoff brings top San Antonio chefs to the Alamo for an epic culinary event


Fiesta San Antonio has many cherished traditions — collecting each year's medals, decorating hats to ridiculous heights, and losing huaraches in the street. But for most locals, it isn't Fiesta without the wide variety of food. It's fitting that the whole shebang kicks off with an epic culinary event.

Tickets are now on sale for Taste of the Republic, the annual celebration of Texas' legendary food culture. This year, the event is decamping to the Gardens of the Alamo on April 20, 6-10 pm.

"There's no state with a more colorful and diverse culinary history, and there's no better place to celebrate that history than the grounds of The Alamo," says founding chef Brian West via statement.

Since 2017, Taste of the Republic has been the VIP kickoff of Fiesta Fiesta, the official opening event of Fiesta San Antonio. As usual, West has asked chefs to draw inspiration from six of the state's culinary regions. Each dish will be expertly paired with the wine for a complete epicurean experience. The ticket price also covers beer and cocktails.

The lineup is a who's-who of local chefs, including Andrew Weissman of Weissman Restaurant Group, Jesse Kuykendall of Milpa, Ceasar Zepeda of Sangria on the Burg, Jose Ochoa of Palenque Grill, Juan Carlos Bazan of Cuishe Cocina Mexicana and Toro Kitchen + Bar, Braunda Smith of Lucy Cooper's Ice House, Benjamin De Los Santos of Benjie's Munch, Ernie Bradley of Cherrity Bar, Lisa and Damien Watel of Bistro09, Esaul Ramos and Joe Melig of 2M Smokehouse, Nicola Blaque of The Jerk Shack, and Kristina Zhao of Dashi Sichuan Kitchen + Bar.

Tickets ($125) benefit the Fiesta Commission and the Remember the Alamo Foundation, two important organizations that preserve and promote Texas's cultural heritage. Those interested should act quickly, however. The event sells out well in advance of Fiesta.

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Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is ridiculous and fun at the same time

Movie Review

The Transformers series has been one marked by near universal derision by the critics and (mostly) massive box office, highlighting the divide between those who watch movies for a living and those who just go for fun. Given that history, it seemed unlikely that the latest film, Transformers: Rise of the Beasts, would unite the two factions.

Like the last film, Bumblebee, Rise of the Beasts is a prequel to the Transformers films directed by Michael Bay from 2007-2017 (Bay remains as a producer). Set in 1994, it features a way-too-complicated story involving something called the Transwarp device prized by three separate groups of Transformers: The Autobots led by Optimus Prime (Peter Cullen); the Maximals, animal-esque bots led by Optimus Primal (Ron Perlman); and the Terrorbots, led by Scourge (Peter Dinklage). One guess as to which of those groups is the evil one.

Mirage (Pete Davidson) in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts

Photo courtesy of Paramount Pictures

Mirage (Pete Davidson) in Transformers: Rise of the Beasts.

Noah Diaz (Anthony Ramos) is a former soldier in Manhattan who can’t find a job and tries his best to take care of his sickly brother, Kris (Dean Scott Vazquez). Elena Wallace (Dominique Fishback) works at a museum on Ellis Island, where she encounters an artifact with unusual markings. Through a series of unlikely but still fun events, both of them are dragged into the conflict between the Transformers, with nothing less than the fate of the universe at stake.

Directed by Steven Caple Jr. and written by a team of five writers, the film is as ridiculous as any of the previous iterations, and yet somehow it becomes the most entertaining entry yet. Some of this has to do with the human characters, who are given engaging scenes outside of the ones with Transformers, allowing them to be relatable instead of just pawns in the robot battles.

The trifecta of Transformer groups turn out to be actually interesting, rather than an excuse to fill the screen with CGI nonsense. The Autobots, as usual, are the main heroes, and with Bumblebee using movie quotes to talk and Mirage (Pete Davidson) lobbing wisecracks constantly, they’re rarely unentertaining. Having the animal-like Maximals on board gives a new dimension, and the seemingly unstoppable Scourge makes for an intimidating villain.

That’s not to say, of course, that the film doesn’t devolve into chaos on multiple occasions. Several of the battles, including the final sequence, seem designed to be almost incomprehensible. But Caple and the visual effects team appear to have understood that clarity makes for a better moviegoing experience, and so even as bedlam reigns, there’s a level of focus to the film that other films in the series have not had.

Even though his character isn’t fully fleshed out, Ramos brings a kind of streetwise energy to the role that makes him stand out. Fishback is not given as much to do, but she’s still highly enjoyable. Cullen, who’s been voicing Optimus Prime since the 1980s, is still a commanding presence, allowing Davidson, Michelle Yeoh, Perlman, and more to bring their own unique flair to their characters.

It may be a low bar to jump, but Transformers: Rise of the Beasts is the best film so far in the series, cracking the code of pairing humans with robots for a (semi)intelligible story. A late movie teaser will have fans geeking out over the future, but it’s best to enjoy this film for being as good as it is.


Transformers: Rise of the Beasts opens in theaters on June 9.

San Antonio had the 3rd largest population increase in the U.S., new Census report says


We already know things are changing in Texas at large, but how about San Antonio? Now, six out of the 15 most populous cities in the United States are in the Lone Star State, and the Alamo City had one of the largest numeric population increases in the nation. The U.S. Census Bureau's latest findings add more validity to reports that less people are interested in living in the city proper, and are seeking residence in the suburbs.

San Antonio added nearly 18,900 new residents between July 2021 to July 2022, bringing the city's total population to nearly 1,473,000. That put San Antonio at No. 3 on the list of numerical increases (as opposed to proportional growth). For scale, the report lists Austin at 1.0 million. Fort Worth took the top spot with its gain of 19,170 residents, and Phoenix, Arizona earned No. 2 after adding 19,053 to its population count.

The top 10 cities with the largest numeric population increases are:

  • No. 1 – Fort Worth, Texas
  • No. 2 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 3 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 4 – Seattle, Washington
  • No. 5 – Charlotte, North Carolina
  • No. 6 – Jacksonville, Florida
  • No. 7 – Port St. Lucie, Florida
  • No. 8 – Cape Coral, Florida
  • No. 9 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 10 – Georgetown, Texas

New Braunfels also earned a nod in the report for being the No. 13 fastest growing city in 2022, and crossing the 100,000 population threshold. The city grew by 5.7 percent, adding up to 104,707 residents.

In an overall analysis of the 15 largest American cities in 2022, San Antonio ranked No. 7. Houston was the only Texas city that ranked higher at No. 4 with its population of over 2.3 million people. Dallas came in at No. 9 with a population of just under 1.3 million, and Austin barely made it into the top 10 with a population of 974,447 residents. Fort Worth ranked outside the top 10 at No. 13, with a population of 956,709.

The top 10 most populous American cities are:

  • No. 1 – New York City, New York
  • No. 2 – Los Angeles, California
  • No. 3 – Chicago, Illinois
  • No. 4 – Houston, Texas
  • No. 5 – Phoenix, Arizona
  • No. 6 – Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
  • No. 7 – San Antonio, Texas
  • No. 8 – San Diego, California
  • No. 9 – Dallas, Texas
  • No. 10 – Austin, Texas

The report additionally discovered that housing inventory skyrocketed by 1.6 million units between 2021 and 2022. Texas had the third fastest housing growth with a rate of 2.3 percent, versus Utah, which had the fastest growth at 3.3 percent.

San Antonio didn't make the cut in the list of the 10 most populous U.S. metro areas (as opposed to the cities, themselves), but Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington ranked No. 4, and Houston-The Woodlands-Sugar Land ranked No. 5.

The full report can be found on census.gov.

The Disney Immersive Experience is now offering sensory-friendly viewings

A whole new world

The Disney Immersive Experience at Lighthouse ArtSpace San Antonio has found a way to be extra inclusive for Disney fans.

Starting on Saturday, June 17, there will be three sensory friendly viewings of the Disney Immersive Experience (you can purchase tickets for the specific sensory friendly performances here).

So what does a sensory friendly viewing entail exactly? For starters, the volume of the show is reduced for a more comfortable viewing experience for guests with special needs.

Other accommodations for the sensory friendly viewing include comfortable gallery lighting (and there will be no blackouts like there are in the regular showings), reduced guest capacity, sensitivity warnings at certain potentially agitating moments in the show, and quiet areas outside of the gallery (where the show takes place) so guests can take a break if the noise is too overwhelming.

After the first sensory friendly viewing on Saturday, June 17, the remaining two sensory friendly performances will take place on Sunday, July 16, and Sunday, August 13.

Every sensory friendly viewing will take place at 10 am. Make sure to select the correct time slot when booking tickets (the sensory friendly performances are also marked 'sensory show' on the online booking calendar.) The sensory friendly viewings are also priced exactly the same as the regular viewings.

The Disney Immersive Experience will be housed at Lighthouse ArtSpace until August 13, 2023, and tickets are still available for regular showings as well as the sensory friendly viewings.

:Inclusion is important to us with all of our offerings, but all the more so with Immersive Disney Animation, which is truly an exhibit where everyone should feel welcome," says Lighthouse Immersive producer Corey Ross via release. "These viewings reduce the sensory output of the show to offer a relaxed environment and judgment-free zone where the wonderful worlds and characters of Disney Animation Studios can be enjoyed by all.”