Fiesta is a unique San Antonio tradition for many reasons. It’s a 10-day celebration for the people. It’s sponsored by non-profits. And it’s oodles of fun for the whole family. If you’re feeling the urge to give back this Fiesta, here are some pretty cool Fiesta events benefitting some pretty cool people.
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If you don’t make it out to the Battle of the Flowers Parade, don’t worry! Fiesta has plenty of parades for your family to enjoy.
Fiesta Flambeau Parade
The nighttime Fiesta Flambeau Parade is the largest illuminated parade in the nation. Running from 7:45pm -11pm, the parade features bands, musical and equestrian groups, plus tons of other attractions that entertain and dazzle the crowd, creating a night filled with incredible illuminated musical memories. Getting tickets can be tricky, so check here for info on advance tickets.
Fiesta Pooch Parade
Dog lovers, this parade is for you. Whether you want to enter your dog in the parade, or just come for the spectacle, the Fiesta Pooch Parade helps raise money for the Therapy Animals of San Antonio. From 8am – 11am on April 28, wind your way around the parade route through Alamo Heights, starting at the Alamo Heights swimming pool. Come early for special exhibits and educational presentations for the whole furry family. And don’t miss the Canine Costume Contest before the parade – dress up your dog, costume your kids, wear your sombrero, and come in your walking shoes!
Lackland Fiesta Military Parade
For a serious full-scale parade, try the Lackland Fiesta Military Parade. On April 25, from 9:30am – 10:30am, share in time-honored military customs and traditions. Then, after the festivities, check out the historic aircraft on display. The event is free and open to the public.
It’s a garden fiesta for the whole family at Viva Botanica! Come to the San Antonio Botanical Gardens on April 21, from 10am – 2pm and sport your finest Fiesta attire. Decorate the kids’ wagon or stroller and start the fun with the children’s parade. You could win awards more “most original,” “best red wagon,” and “best stroller.” Then enjoy crafts, music, and games, even take a “walk across Texas” and venture out along the Texas Native Trail. Admission is $8 for adults, $5 for kids 3-13, and $6 for seniors, military, and students.
Texas Cavaliers River Parade
Here’s another chance for one of Fiesta’s grand parades, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade is April 23, from 7pm – 9:30pm. For $12-$22, your family can join the crowds along the River Walk and experience the most unusual parade in America. This year’s theme, “Rocking on the River,” promises an evening of family fun with live music, celebrities, and lights.
Free Music for the Family
You’ll find a wealth of culture and live entertainment at Fiesta. If you’re looking for free family-friendly music infused with culture, check out some of these spots:
If you want to kick off Fiesta right, head down to Alamo Plaza on April 19 from 5:30pm-9:30pm for the official opening of Fiesta 2012 in front of the Alamo. Be wary of the crowds, but you can enjoy live entertainment, Fiesta Royalty, and special guests, all while cracking cascarones and joining in the crowd’s enthusiastic proclamation “Viva Fiesta!”
Fiesta de los Reyes
From April 20- 29, explore Market Square at the Fiesta de los Reyes from 10am – midnight. One of the largest free Fiesta celebrations, it adds a twist to Fiesta family fun and entertainment. Enjoy live entertainment on multiple stages with a variety of music and folkloric dancers. With food booths galore, your family can enjoy new and delicious Fiesta treats! And the kids have their own special area – Reino de los Niños.
And, of course, there’s the ever-popular USAF Band of the West Fiesta in Blue. This year’s event will take place Saturday and Sunday, April 21 and 22 at Edgewood ISD Performing Arts Center.
Fiesta de la Familia
Fiesta de la Familia at St. Gregory Catholic Church has its annual Spring Festival on April 22, from 11am-8pm. You and your family are invited to enjoy continuous live entertainment, games and rides for all ages, and a variety of delicious foods. You might even glimpse a few local celebrities while you’re there.
San Jose MissionFest
Come to the San Jose MissionFest on April 29, from 11am-10pm for all your family’s favorites: great food, entertainment, plus arts, crafts, and all-around fun at the Children’s Corner. Get there before 5pm for free admission and enjoy the live music throughout the day, featuring a combined performance by Grammy-winning Texmaniacs, Rick Trevino and Los Lobos. If you want to sit and enjoy the music, be sure you bring your own lawn chair.
Support the Clark High School Band at Family Funday Sunday on April 22, from 1pm – 5pm. The Cougar Band Booster Club kicks off the event with “Fiesta’s Shortest Parade” on De Zavala Rd at the High School. Marvel at the marching band and make your way around the booths for games and food. It’s not just the musical stylings of the Cougars, enjoy a variety of musical groups at this family-oriented event.
If you’re a diehard Mariachi fan, or if your family just loves Mariachi, you don’t want to miss the Mariachi Festival. Along the River Walk from 7pm to 10pm, April 24-27, enjoy the traditional trumpeting of the mariachis as they play aboard colorful floats cruising along the Paseo del Rio. Part of one of the oldest Mariachi festivals in the country.
Fun & Games
Fiesta is rooted in tradition, but there’s a lot more that goes into making it a party! There is plenty of fun and games to be had at Fiesta, things to get your kids busy and having fun.
Get the party started at the Fiesta Carnival. Running every day from April 18 – 29, make your way to the Alamodome Parking Lot C at 100 Montana for glittering lights, exciting rides, and of course your favorite fair foods. It’s free admission, and the revenue from the carnival goes to support the activities of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission. Starting in the late morning or afternoon, let the lights dazzle you as the sun sets and the fun begins at the carnival.
Fiesta de los Niños
Parents and kids, there’s a little something for everyone at the Fiesta de los Niños. Check out Port San Antonio on April 21st, from 10am- 6pm for this free event (plus free parking). At noon, follow the homemade floats as they lead the way through Port San Antonio’s Town Center and discover the ultimate kid-friendly haven. Filled with games and rides in a safe, alcohol-free environment, parents can sit back, relax and enjoy food, music, and dance performances while the kids go crazy, kicking off Fiesta at a party designed especially for them!
Fort Sam Houston Fiesta Ceremony and Fireworks Extravaganza!
Mix military ceremony and fun at the Fort Sam Houston Fiesta Ceremony and Fireworks Extravaganza! From 1pm-9pm on April 22, arrive early to get good seats in the bleachers or bring your own, just be prepared for the grand fireworks extravaganza that ends the night! During the day enjoy the free fun of the Fiesta Country Fair with live entertainment, carnival rides and games, military displays, and novelty items. And of course, your fair share of food and drinks.
Paseo del Rio Children’s Festival
The Paseo del Rio Children’s Festival promises a free, fun, entertaining, and educational Fiesta event for kids of all ages. On April 21, from 10am-4pm wind your way around the River Walk and enjoy a day of live entertainment, interactive games, face painting, clowns, storytelling, mascots, arts and crafts, wildlife exhibits, and more all designed to keep your kiddos delighted.
Fiesta Arts Fair
If you love art, don’t forget to stop by the Fiesta Arts Fair. It’s not the cheapest event on the block, but it’s a lot of fun with crafts galore and beautiful booths to explore. This year’s event is Saturday, April 21 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. and Sunday, April 22 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. Tickets are $ 16-weekend pass; $10 daily for adults; $5 daily for children ages 5-12, and free for children under 5 accompanied by adults. You’ll end up spending most of your time in the Children’s Art Garden. Go early before it gets crowded.
Fiesta has been a San Antonio tradition dating all the way back to 1891, with the first Battle of the Flowers. To celebrate the heroes of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto, San Antonio citizens worked together to create what is now the second-largest national parade (The Tournament of Roses parade coming in first) and the only one in the country to be planned and directed completely by women.
Since its initial success, Fiesta has grown into what it is today – a 10-day celebration with some 100 + events all sponsored by nonprofits. With a list of events for every interest, from music, food, sports, pageantry, military and patriotic observances, exhibits, and parades, getting a handle on fiesta can seem daunting.
I’m sure you’ve got your favorites, but remember, there are new events every year! And if you’re looking for some events for the whole family, let SA Busy Kids be your guide.
Let’s start with the Fiesta Traditions rooted in history!
Travel back in time with the 74th Battle of the Flowers Band Festival’s musical blast from the past. All that history I mentioned before? Well, this year, they are highlighting the proud heritage of Fiesta through music. See students from over 30 high school bands join forces to present an entertaining musical evening that is one of Fiesta’s most popular and time-honored events. And if that’s not enough, the kids can marvel at the fireworks over Alamo Stadium during the grand finale. It’s happening Thursday, April 26th, with the Patriotic Prelude starting at 6:30 p.m. at Alamo Stadium. General admission is $4 for adults, $2 for kids, check here to see about pre-ordering or reserving seats.
Battle of the Flowers Parade
The next day, Friday, April 27, see where the tradition began with the Battle of the Flowers Parade. The parade starts at 12:30pm and travels from Broadway at Josephine all the way downtown past the Alamo to Martin and Santa Rosa. If you want to avoid some of the adult festivities, there’s tobacco and alcohol-free seating on the block from Travis to Houston. You can pick up your tickets from the Fiesta Store at 2611 Broadway (10am-6pm Monday –Friday, 10am to 3pm on Saturday) or check online to see your other options.
Celebration of Traditions PowWo
To get a look at the traditions of another culture, you might want to check out the Celebration of Traditions PowWow. On April 21, from 10am – 4pm, you and your family are invited to view and participate in the American Indian culture and traditions of dance and music at an official Native American Pow Wow. Head to the Woodlawn Gymnasium at 1103 Cincinnati Ave, for Gourd Dancing starting at 11am, the Grand Entry at 12:30, and intertribal dancing and exhibitions until 4p.m. There will also be vendors selling Native American arts, crafts, and supplies. Add a little history to your Fiesta, it’s free and open to the public.
A Day in Old Mexico
Spend A Day in Old Mexico at the Charro Ranch at 6126 Padre Dr. Hosting two Charrerias, on April 22 & 29 from 1pm- 6pm. Here you can watch the equestrian skills of men and women in traditional clothes, and maybe even catch some bull riding and artistic roping skills. Enjoy delicious Mexican food and drink, listen to mariachis, and watch the beautiful Mexican ballet folklorico entertain. Tickets are $15 for adults and $3 for kids 12 and under.