Is this your first year in San Antonio? Have you heard people talk about Fiesta but wonder what it is all about? Or has someone at work smashed a hollow egg filled with confetti on your head and you have no idea why?
Our guess is that even if you have heard of Fiesta, you are feeling pretty overwhelmed with all the information and events and don’t know where to start planning.
We are here for you.
And for those of you who are not stationed in San Antonio — never say never. All Air Force basic training and a lot of medical training is completed in San Antonio, so there is a good chance you can end up in the Alamo City at some point in a military career.
San Antonio has a lot to offer. After spending nine years of my adult life in San Antonio, I am going to be bold enough to say that it is worth a visit even if you are not stationed there. There is just so much to see and do, and the city itself is full of history.
So let’s get started.
Fiesta celebrates Texas’ independence from Mexico. The Battle of Flowers started in 1891 as a way to honor those who fought in The Battle of the Alamo and The Battle of San Jacinto. Over the years, various carnivals, balls, and parades join the Battle of Flowers in a 10-day lineup of decorations, colors, food, and celebration.
Fiesta San Antonio 2019, April 18-28, is packed with parties and parades.
Hit up the Fiesta website here and take your pick. But we are guessing that if you are reading this here, you probably have a family, so we are here to tell you about some of our favorites that are particularly fun for families.
This is an event that you must attend at least once in your lifetime. The parade takes several hours but is full of ornate floats, bands, and Fiesta Royalty. It is a long parade and can happen on a very hot day. My kids have never made it through the entire thing. This year the parade is on Friday, April 26 and starts at 9:30 am.
There are a couple of things to consider for this parade.
The first is seating. You can actually buy a seat. We sat near the Alamo a couple of times. There is entertainment (other than the parade) and food vendors. The plus side is that you know that you have a guaranteed spot to watch the parade. The problem with those seats is that you are highly likely to be in the sun for most of the parade. You can check out the route ahead of time and pick a place that has a better chance of shade but is still close to food, toilets, etc.
The next thing to keep in mind is parking. The first year we went, it was so hot, and we had to walk so far that my daughter was toast before we got to our seats. The most recent time we went, we parked on the East side of 281. Our walk was short and it was a breeze getting out of there.
The Texas Cavaliers River Parade is from 7-9 p.m. on Monday, April 22, on the San Antonio River. Thousands of people find a spot on the River Walk to watch the party float by. This is another event where you can buy a seat ahead of time or can look for a free spot to watch. I will say that this might be a good time to reserve a seat, especially if you have kids. Viewing space is limited.
This is by far one of the most family friendly events of Fiesta. Alamo Height Night, April 12 from 5:30-11:30 pm at The University of The Incarnate Word, is filled with food vendors, entertainment, games/rides, and lots of fun activities for kids.
As a plus, Active Duty and Reserve Military members get free entry (but they must still have a free ticket).
Tickets are only available at the gate. If you go early, there is ample parking across Hildebrand at the AT&T building. Otherwise, the event offers park and ride services from several locations.
Head back to Alamo Heights on Saturday, April 27, to watch the dogs run the show. This event kicks off at Alamo Heights Pool at 8:15 am with the Canine Costume Contest and is a fundraiser for Therapy Animals of San Antonio. The best part about this parade is that you have the option of participating or watching!
This is my favorite Fiesta event by far. First off, the King William neighborhood is absolutely beautiful. It is worth the visit even if you go on another day. From its proximity to Hemisfair Park and playground to local coffee shops and cafes on a quieter part of the River Walk to gorgeous homes, King William is amazing.
Held on Saturday, April 27, this is mainly an art and crafts fair but you will also find wine, beer, and food vendors. There is also a small kids’ area with rides and games. The King William Fair kicks off at 9am with a quirky parade. A far cry from Battle of Flowers, this parade is full of local flavor, community groups, and fun floats.
**Tickets are required for the event and parking is tricky, so make sure to look at the event website ahead of time.
Located on South Presa from April 23-26 from 5:30 – 10:30 PM, NIOSA celebrates San Antonio’s diverse cultural heritage. You will find food and drink vendors, musical acts, games, souvenirs, and decorations. The event is broken up into over a dozen different areas like Sauerkraut Bend, a French Quarter, and Clown Alley. All proceeds go to the San Antonio Conservation Society. This is a great event but my advice to you if you are planning on taking your kids is to go early. Things can get crowded and crazy as the evening goes on.
This list only represents a tiny portion of the Fiesta schedule. Check out the event calendar to see what else is offered.
What else do you need to know about Fiesta?
Fiesta Medals – Think of these like Mardi Gras beads. There are lots of unique ones out there, and people love to collect them. My daughter went crazy over medals a few years ago and could barely walk to the parade with all of them hanging from her. Organizations and businesses raise money by selling the medals. The Fiesta Store on Broadway has a lovely display of many available medals.
Décor – Fiesta rivals Christmas for fantastic home decorations. Look for huge, colorful wreathes and Mexican flags. In addition to what you will find hanging from doors and trees, there is confetti everywhere. My kids’ favorite Fiesta tradition is cascarones. (The aforementioned mystery hollowed out eggs!). These eggs are sort of like a mini piñata. Buy them by the dozen at your nearest H-E-B and start celebrating. Watch out though. We have found that while Fiesta ends after ten days, confetti tends to stick around all year!
Don’t forget that your local H-E-B can help you with almost all of your Fiesta needs. H-E-B sells decorations, apparel, and limited edition Fiesta Medals, including some for the San Antonio Spurs. While you are shopping, you can also pick up Fiesta tickets for ticketed events at a store near you.
Just another reason why we love H-E-B.