Does your birthday celebration extend into a birthday weekend? Some people even claim a birthday week, planning seven days of lunch dates and cocktail hours with friends. So when venerable San Antonio turns 300 years old, it’s reason to celebrate for the entire year. After all, not many U.S. cities have been around since 1718.
San Antonio has teamed with leading arts organizations, cultural institutions, and service and health groups to commemorate its 300th birthday, creating a year-long calendar full of ways to celebrate. Highlights of an extensive array of activities and events are listed below, along with annual traditions and a few new things, too.
Here's our guide to celebrating 300 years of San Antonio:
"Confluence and Culture: 300 Years of San Antonio History" — through January 9, 2019
This Tricentennial exhibit at the Witte Museum takes you on an interactive trip through three centuries with art, artifacts, and encounters with people from the city’s past. While you’re there, take in the San Antonio River Authority’s companion exhibit, “Gathering at the Waters: 12,000 Years of People,” celebrating thousands of years of history with a focus on indigenous people.
San Antonio 1718: Art from Viceregal Mexico — through May 13
This exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Art combines landscapes, portraits, and more to tell the story of the first 100 years of San Antonio.
Made in S.A.: A Tricentennial Film Festival — through May 21
Presented by Texas Public Radio, San Antonio Film Commission, and Slab Cinema, this initiative presents free, outdoor screenings of movies filmed in the city. Check the TPR Facebook page for updates, but here is the current schedule:
- March 17: Wings at Fort Sam Houston’s Quadrangle (pre-register for clearance)
- March 20: Miss Congeniality at Arneson River Theater
- April 7: Viva Max! at Hemisfair Park
- May 2: The Sugarland Express at South Park Plaza
- May 9: Selena at the Central Library
- May 21: Go Down, Death at Sunset Station
Viva Hemisfair! — April 6-8
Marking 50 years to the day since the grand opening of the 1968 World’s Fair, a key date in the city’s long history, this weekend celebration looks towards the city’s future. At the reimagined Hemisfair Park, which is undergoing a three-phase renovation, walk through cultural zones and enjoy live music, public art, historical exhibits, and throwbacks to the 1968 Fair.
Fiesta San Antonio — April 19-29
You can’t celebrate the city’s 300th year without enjoying the city’s most popular festival. More than 3.5 million people attend the 11-day celebration featuring more than 100 events. See the full calendar here.
Tricentennial Commemorative Week — May 1-6
This is it! Of all the service projects and arts and cultural events, this week marks the centerpiece of the year-long celebration. Enjoy six days of events showcasing the essence and spirit of San Antonio. Each day has a special theme: Day of Reflection, History & Education, Founder’s Day, Arts for All, Legacy Day, and Military Appreciation, as well as simultaneous fiestas at four of the missions and a fireworks extravaganza.
Common Currents Art Exhibits — through May 7
Six art organizations and galleries host a visual celebration of city history. ArtPace already had its turn with the exhibit, but see this creative and collaborative effort, which tells different parts of the story, throughout the spring. Upcoming schedule:
- Blue Star Contemporary through May 7
- Southwest School of Art through April 22
- Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center through April 29
- Carver Community Cultural Center from March 15-April 26
- Mexican Cultural Institute from March 29-May 7
Tejano Conjunto Festival — May 16-20
The largest and oldest celebration of its kind in the nation, this five-day fest at 418 Villita St. brings the sounds and sights of cumbia, polka, boleros, and more to the Tricentennial. A celebration of San Antonio’s rich Tejano culture brings tens of thousands of multigenerational conjunto lovers each year, but 2018 promises to be bigger than ever.
Where the Past Meets the Future: Using Technology to Learn About San Antonio’s History — August 1
See San Antonio history as you never have before with this holographic exhibition at the San Antonio Museum of Science and Technology celebrating the city’s 300 years. The Southwest regional office of Logistics Management Institute, based in San Antonio, is partnering with SAMSAT to create the free experience and highlight the city’s tech sector.
World Heritage Festival — Fall 2018
During the Tricentennial, this annual five-day event celebrating San Antonio’s missions, collectively designated a UNESCO World Heritage site, has even more significance. With dates to be determined, festivities at the missions showcase work by local artists, gourmet food, an organized bike tour, live music, and more. Watch for details here.
300 Accordions: Celebrating San Antonio’s Conjunto Tradition La Villita — October 13
The Conjunto Heritage Taller will honor 300 conjunto musicians who have helped to preserve and perpetuate this musical tradition in San Antonio.
Ford Holiday River Parade — November 23
This iconic night parade lights the River Walk for the holiday season. A city-wide tradition, this is one can't-miss event during the city’s Tricentennial celebration.
Celebrate San Antonio — December 31
Wrap up the year-long Tricentennial with this free downtown extravaganza, with three stages of live music, plus fireworks.
Learn more about these and many more month-by-month happenings at the Tricentennial Commission’s site.