It's time to party in San Antonio. Fiesta is arriving in the city with more events — both official and unofficial — than ever before. The traditional 10-day celebration runs April 18-28, and it's worth a road trip from every corner of Texas.
Many activities are like mini-festivals, full of food, drinks, music, and games. Others are more reverential and pay tribute to the history and culture of the people who have helped to make what the Alamo City is today. Whatever your tastes, here are some of the truly essential (and officially sanctioned) Fiesta events to put on your to-do list.
Fiesta Carnival — April 18-28
You can’t have Fiesta without a multi-day carnival. The family-friendly extravaganza will be held daily in one of the Alamodome parking lots along Cherry Street. The gates open between 5 pm and 6 pm, most days, except for April 20-21 and 26-28 when they open at 11 am. The carnival provides an assortment of food, games, and rides.
Admission is free, but buying a wristband ($22-$25, depending on which evening) gets you access to all the rides.
Fiesta de los Reyes — April 19-28
Market Square is always a festive place, but during Fiesta de los Reyes, it’s pretty much ground zero for partying. There will be many bands on five stages every day. Gary Hobbs, Grupo Vida, Little Joe y La Familia, The Spazmatics, Augie Meyers, and Jay Perez are just some of the scheduled performers that are sure to attract huge crowds. If that’s not enough, there will be a variety of food vendors every where you turn.
Admission is free.
Texas Cavaliers River Parade — April 22
Thousands flock to the banks of the River Walk to see more than 50 decorated, illuminated floats as part one of the nation’s most renowned and unique parades. "Showtime in San Antonio" is the theme for this year’s river parade, over which King Antonio XCVII will preside between 7-9 pm. Created in 1926, Texas Cavaliers are one of the most well-known civic groups in Texas, which in comprised of hundreds of local community and business leaders who raise funds for local youth, first responder, and military charities.
Check the Cavaliers' website for details on ticket packages for special seating along the River Walk.
Cornyation — April 23-25
Fiesta has its reverent, regal coronation of royalty — usually family affairs and celebrations of local culture. Cornyation is not that. It's completely irreverent and very much for the adults. The annual event boasts contemporary, edgy, occasionally raunchy satire and commentary of local, state, national, and global affairs and culture. There are skits and performances galore, and the audience is encouraged to laugh, sing, and chant along. This year's theme is "The Court of Tremendous Expectations." Showtimes are 7 and 10 pm at Empire Theater.
Check out the Cornyation website for ticket information, which range from $15-$100. Act fast, it's one of the hottest Fiesta tickets in town.
A Night in Old San Antonio — April 23-26
Spanning four nights at La Villita, NIOSA is an exploration of the rich, diverse cultures that have played a crucial part in the origins of San Antonio. As such, visitors will have plenty of food and drinks from which to choose. In the mood for escargot or Blarney bacon? How about anticuchos or Yak-i-Tori chicken? La Villita will be filled with the sounds of mariachis, and German, Irish, Americana, and zydeco music, among other genres. There’s also a place for the youngsters. Pro tip: Wear comfortable shoes. A lot of walking and crowd surfing lie ahead.
Tickets are $12 in advance at local H-E-B stores, or $15 at the gate.
Battle of Flowers Parade — April 26
The 128th Battle of Flowers Parade begins around 9:30 am near the Pearl. This San Antonio classic is the nation’s second largest day parade, involving hundreds of entries from around the country walking and riding through the streets of downtown. The parade is so big that it's cause for an official citywide holiday. As it should be because hundreds of thousands of spectators turn out for the lavish parade, with many setting up lawn chairs or camping out in tents to secure their prime spot along the route days in advance.
Admission for official seating: $12-$25. (A free afterparty follows at Pearl.)
King William Fair — April 27
The fair, set across much of the King William Historic District, is family-friendly and yet a little quirky. The event kicks off at 9 am with a mini-neighborhood parade, where most of the entries reflect the Southtown community’s vibe. Visitors then stay for a day full of live music on five stages, art, craft and food vendors, and a massive children’s play area. There’s all kinds of fun to be had wherever you go in the neighborhood turned fairgrounds — especially if you’re lucky enough to know someone who lives there. Such residents can be found having their own house party within a party.
Fair admission: $15 for adults, free for children 12-under. Admission to see the parade is free.
Flambeau Parade — April 27
On the next to final night of Fiesta, downtown is the place to be again for the largest illuminated night parade in the country. Festivities begin 7 pm near the Pearl. Hundreds of entries are watched by hundreds of thousands of spectators lining the streets every year. “Reflections of Music Past” is the theme for this year’s event. Take particular note of the University of Texas Longhorn Marching Band, which takes part in the Flambeau parade every year.
Official bleacher seating is $18.50-$35.