April 19, 2018 Slideshows » Arts

25 Fiesta Events Every San Antonian Should Experience At Least Once 

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Spend a little time perusing the Fiesta San Antonio events calendar and you’ll realize just how extensive the citywide “party with a purpose” really is. Packed with a wealth of offerings ranging from concerts and festivals to parades and culinary-driven affairs, Fiesta requires more than a little prioritizing. Far from an exhaustive list, the following represent just a few of Fiesta’s many fan favorites.
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Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
Hit up Market Square during the 10 days of free Fiesta fun. Enjoy classic conjunto, cumbia and tejano tunes and food from more than 30 food booths. Free, Fri, Apr. 20-Sun, Apr. 29, Market Square, 514 W Commerce St, fiesta-sa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta Carnival
If you don't feel like going to any specific events but want to enjoy the fun of the fair, hit up the Carnival. Hit up all the rides and snack on all the funnel cakes and turkey legs you want. Free, Thur, Apr. 19-Sun, Apr. 29, Alamodome Parking Lot C, 401 - 449 S Cherry St, fiesta-sa.org.
Jinkx Monsoon
WEBB Party: The Roaring 25
After defecting from Fiesta for a brief stint as a Halloween event, the San Antonio AIDS Foundation’s WEBB Party returns to the confetti-filled celebration with The Roaring 25, a costumed bash featuring a 1920s theme. Benefiting the nonprofit’s programs and services, the silver anniversary celebration combines cocktails, cuisine samples, DJs and performances by RuPaul’s Drag Race season five winner Jinkx Monsoon. $65-$90, 7-11pm Fri, Apr. 20, Aztec Theatre, 104 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 225-4715, sanantonioaids.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Taste of New Orleans
Organized by the San Antonio Zulu Association, this three-day festival brings a Big Easy vibe to Sunken Garden complete with gumbo, etouffee and live music ranging from jazz to zydeco. $12-$15, 5pm-midnight Fri, Apr. 20, noon-midnight Sat, Apr. 21, noon-10pm Sun, Apr. 22, Sunken Garden Theatre, 3875 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 637-8328, saza.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta Oyster Bake
Billed as “the heartbeat of Fiesta,” this yearly classic raises funds for St. Mary’s University scholarships while treating the masses to roughly 100,000 oysters, cold brews, a fireworks show (10:30pm Friday) and live rock, hip-top, country and tejano on five outdoor stages. The 2018 headliners include Bret Michaels, Sean Paul, Drowning Pool and Everclear. $29.50-$157, 5-11pm Fri, Apr. 20, noon-11pm Sat, Apr. 21, St. Mary’s University, One Camino Santa Maria, (210) 436-3324, oysterbake.com.
Fiesta San Antonio
Rey Feo Crown Celebration
If you've ever attended the Rey Feo crowning ceremony, treat yourself to the after-party some year. Tickets sell out pretty quickly to this food and booze filled event, but consider this a bucket list item, especially if you're an SA native. $125, 7pm-midnight, Fri, Apr. 20, Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center, 900 E Market St, (210) 775-2343, fiesta-sa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Piñatas in the Barrio
Fair food, live entertainment and a big ass piñata?! Y'all already know we're there. Rey Feo crowns the barrio's king and queen, who will take place in next weekend's big parades. Proceeds benefit projects and scholarships on the city's West Side. Free, noon-10pm, Sat Apr. 21, Guadalupe Theatre, 723 S Brazos St, (210) 772-6595, fiesta-sa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Celebrations of Traditions Pow Wow
All are welcome to celebrate the American Indian culture with song and dance that pay tribute to the community. Free, 10am-4pm, Sat, Apr. 21, Woodlawn Gymnasium, 1103 Cincinnati Ave, (210) 775-2343, unitedsanantoniopowwow.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Mission Reach Flotilla Festival
Mission Reach is super cool anytime of the year, but especially during Fiesta. This fest offers a costume contest and parade as well as the Flotilla paddle. Free, 11am-5pm, Sat Apr. 21, Mission Park Pavillions, 6030 Padre, (210) 224-2694, fiesta-sa.org.
Southwest School of Art
Fiesta Arts Fair
A cherished Fiesta tradition for more than 40 years now, Fiesta Arts Fair routinely draws crowds of 12,000-plus to the historic grounds of the Southwest School of Art. While it spotlights artists showing and selling works in all media (from jewelry and ceramics to textiles and photography), the two-day event is equally known for its eclectic music lineup, which this year includes Los Djangoleros, Los Fabulocos and Grupo Folklórico de Bendiciones. $5-$15, 10am-6pm Sat, Apr. 21, 11am-5pm Sun, Apr. 22, Southwest School of Art, 300 Augusta St., (210) 200-8200, swschool.org.
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Asociación de Charros de San Antonio
A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada
For the last six decades, the Asociación de Charros de San Antonio has championed charrería (often described as Mexican rodeo), competing throughout the year and attracting a diverse crowd each April with its beloved Fiesta event A Day in Old Mexico. Of the 10 official suertes (competitive roping and riding events performed in period costumes), the all-female escaramuza easily stands out as a fan favorite. $5-$20, 3pm Sun, Apr. 22 & 3pm Sun, Apr. 29, Charro Ranch, 6126 Padre Drive, (210) 920-5365, sacharros.org.
Bonham Exchange
The Chili Queens Cook-Off
Did you know that chili is the official dish of Texas? Well, you bet your ass it is. But, down here in San Antone we aren’t satisfied with something as basic and boring as a chili cook-off to celebrate our state dish, especially not during Fiesta time. That’s where the fantastic and fabulous Chili Queens Cook-off, an official Fiesta event that has been around for more than 10 years now, comes in. At this beautifully bawdy affair, the chili may be hot but the Queens (not a gender-specific term in this case) are way spicier. Attendees will be entertained by DJs keeping things lively and adult beverages aplenty as they enjoy and/or compete in one of two competitions on the day: an honest-to-god chili cook-off (judging starts at 5pm) and the Tackiest Queen contest. In the inclusive and irreverent spirit of Fiesta events like Cornyation, this off-kilter classic is a true San Antonio gem that’s not to be missed. A little-known fact about the Queens Cook-off is that if any especially ambitious and talented Queen is able to win both contests at once, they’ll instantly be made mayor. It’s true. And, the Donkey Lady will swear them in. Free, 3-8pm Sun, Apr. 22, The Bonham Exchange, 411 Bonham St., (210) 224-9219, bonhamexchange.net.
Witte Museum
"Pop Up! Fiesta in the Galleries"
Over-the-top hallmarks of Fiesta, Coronation gowns first stepped into the spotlight during the inaugural Crowning of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo back in 1909. While the Coronation itself remains an elite affair (Wed, Arp. 25 at the Majestic Theatre), the elaborately beaded (and impossibly heavy) gowns and trains can be experienced in a slightly less-imposing atmosphere at the Witte. Switching up the format this year, the museum is scattering its annual exhibition of Coronation gowns into an array of pop-up displays complemented by Fiesta posters through the years. $7-$10, April 19-29, Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway, (210) 357-1900, wittemuseum.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
The Texas Cavaliers River Parade
Entitled “Magnificent Missions,” this year's Texas Cavaliers River Parade promises an evening of family fun with live music, celebrities and lights. More than 45 festively decorated floats sponsored by local community organizations and military installations drift down the river. King Antonio XCVI reigns over the evening’s festivities and gives a Texas-sized welcome to the enthusiastic spectators along the winding route. $14-$26, 7-9pm Mon, Apr. 23, San Antonio River Walk, (210) 227-4837, texascavaliers.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
NIOSA
Bring comfortable shoes, plenty of cash and make sure you’ve got a meeting spot in mind when heading into La Villita for NIOSA. The 70th presentation of the San Antonio Conservation Society’s beloved bacchanal features 15 cultural areas filled with foods from across the globe, plenty of cerveza and music and dance performances from the likes of Cadence Cloggers, Karizma and Ravenmoor. $12-$15, 5:30-10:30pm Tue, Apr. 24 - Fri, Apr. 27, La Villita, 418 Villita St., (210) 226-5188, niosa.org.
Julián P. Ledezma
Cornyation
Since its launch as a straight-up spoof of the elite Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, Cornyation has seen wild ups and downs — morphing with changing times, broadening its focus (from high society to politics and beyond) and eventually establishing itself as a major fundraiser for HIV/AIDS charities. Inheriting a title inaugurated in 1951, Charlie Biedenharn steps into the royal role of King Anchovy this year to rule over the Court of Frenetic Frantic Kingdoms during three nights of outrageous lampoonery. $15-$45, 7pm & 10pm Tue, Apr. 24 - Thu, Apr. 26, Charline McCombs Empire Theatre, 226 N. St. Mary’s St., (210) 226-3333, fiestacornyation.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta Gartenfest
Explore German culture in the biergarten during Fiesta for a true party. There will be German entertainment, food and of course plenty of beer. $5 (free for kids under 12), 5pm-midnight Wed, Apr. 25-Fri Apr. 27, Beethoven Halle and Garden, 422 Pereida St., (210) 222-1521, beethovenmaennerchor.com.
Fiesta San Antonio
Taste of the Northside
Head north for delectable dishes, drinks from 50 SA restaurants. Enjoy 5 drinks (beer and wine!) and all the samples you want. $85+, 5:30-10:30 pm, Wed Apr. 25, The Club at Sonterra, 901 E Sonterra Blvd, (210) 826-4492, tasteofthenorthside.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Battle of Flowers Band Festival
Unless you're a current or former band geek (or related to one), chances are you've never been to this fest. If you appreciate music in all its forms, definitely make it a point to hit up this band festival, now in its 80th year. Area high schools bands battle it out for top ranks and fan favorites, bringing out all the stops from musicianship and showmanship for a literal parade of bands. After the awards are all said and done, thousands of students fill the field and join forces for a unified medley paired with a fireworks show. $5, 6:30-9:30pm, Thur Apr. 26, Alamo Stadium, 110 Tuleta Dr,, (888) 695-0888, fiesta-sa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Battle of Flowers Parade
At the very center of the 10-day celebration, Fiesta’s parades run the gamut from traditional reverence to whimsical and wacky. If you can only attend one, most would point you toward the Battle of Flowers Parade, the over-the-top procession that sparked Fiesta itself back in 1891. Produced entirely by women and designed to honor the heroes of the Alamo, the beloved tradition brings together all the hallmarks of Fiesta for a procession through downtown featuring elaborately decorated floats, decked-out royalty, ROTC units, local celebs and marching bands. $12-$25, 9:30am-2:30pm Fri, Apr. 27, parade route (begins at Broadway at E. Grayson St.), (888) 695-0888, battleofflowers.org.
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Fiesta San Antonio
10th Street River Festival
This two-day festivals lets you enjoy great food, cold drink and live music that celebrates SA's cultural diversity – all on the river from the oldest running VFW from the state of Texas. Free, noon-12:30am, Sat, Apr.28-Sun, Apr. 29, VFW Post 76 on the Riverwalk, 10 10th Street, (210) 223-4581, fiesta-sa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta Pooch Parade
Therapy Animals of San Antonio’s Fiesta favorite returns with the ever-popular Canine Costume Contest (8:15am, registration required) and a parade through the tree-lined streets of Alamo Heights. $25-$30 (free for spectators), 7:45-11am Sat, Apr. 28, Alamo Heights Swimming Pool, 250 Viesca St., (210) 614-6734, therapyanimalssa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
King William Fair & Parade
King William Fair began in 1968 as a small and quirky celebration of the eclectic neighborhood that lends the fair its name. The Fiesta San Antonio favorite now attracts tens of thousands of revelers from all over each year. Aside form being a damn good time, the fair, like most Fiesta events serves a good cause. King William Fair is the main fundraiser of the King William Association, which seeks to “preserve and protect the oldest historic district in Texas and promote the unique cultural heritage of San Antonio.” In addition to a solid lineup of live music, this year's event brings together a slew of artists and artisans showing and selling their work. $15 (free for kids under 12), 9am-6pm Sat, Apr. 28, King William Historic District, 122 Madison St., (210) 271-3247, fiesta-sa.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta Flambeau Parade
While it may not boast the rich history of the Battle of Flowers Parade, the Fiesta Flambeau stands out as a San Antonio original that’s billed as “America’s largest illuminated night parade.” With the official parade mascot Torchy lighting the way, the Flambeau draws roughly 700,000 Fiesta fans into the streets of downtown (not to mention 1.5 million television viewers) for a lively procession featuring elaborately decorated floats, marching bands and equestrian units. $16.50-$30, 6:45-10pm Sat, Apr. 28, parade route (begins at Broadway at E. Grayson St.), (210) 364-5349, fiestaflambeauparade.org.
Fiesta San Antonio
San Jose Missionfest
This South Side tradition begins with an outdoor mariachi mass and offers a full day of family-friendly fun with food and live entertainment from tejano, country, jazz and conjunto artists. The event benefits Mission San Jose Church, a World Heritage site. $5 (free for kids 12 and under), 10:30am-11pm, Sun Apr. 29, Mission San Jose Church, 701 E Pyron Ave, (210) 922-0543, fiesta-sa.org.
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Fiesta San Antonio
Fiesta de los Reyes at Market Square
Hit up Market Square during the 10 days of free Fiesta fun. Enjoy classic conjunto, cumbia and tejano tunes and food from more than 30 food booths. Free, Fri, Apr. 20-Sun, Apr. 29, Market Square, 514 W Commerce St, fiesta-sa.org.

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