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San Antonio Fiesta

Updated on April 27, 2012

Battle Of Flowers Parade 2012

Downtown San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro and his wife ride in the Battle of Flowers Parade 2012.
Downtown San Antonio, Mayor Julian Castro and his wife ride in the Battle of Flowers Parade 2012.

San Antonio Fiesta

In San Antonio Fiesta means just one thing--an eleven day party for the entire city. Eleven days of food, carnivals, music, parades, and entertainment every April.

Throughout the 11 days of partying, approximately 3.5 million people go to the various Fiesta events. The big party gets underway with fireworks at Fort Sam Houston. The new King Antonio is inducted at the Alamo each year and reigns supreme for ten days.

On the first Friday and Saturday nights of Fiesta, St. Mary's University hosts the Fiesta Oyster Bake. If you love oysters, you will not want to miss this. This year it is on Friday night, April 8 from 5pm to 11pm and Saturday, April 9 from 11am until 11pm for 2011. Can you believe that? The money goes toward scholarships and other school activities.

Another popular Fiesta event is NIOSA, which is short for Night In Old San Antonio. This is a huge carnival with food and alcohol as well. Things can get out of hand when some of the patrons drink too much so you do have to be careful, but it is very popular and goes on for most of the ten days. It is located in La Villita, King William District, on the River Walk and by the Tower of the Americas. NIOSA has food from all over the world for you to try.

There is even a Fiesta Fashion Show. While you are at one of the many Fiesta events around the city, you may see people cracking egg shells covered with colored paper and filled with confetti on the heads of others. These are a San Antonio tradition called cascarones.

The Texas Cavaliers River Parade happens on the first Monday night of the eleven day party. It is another San Antonio River parade and about 200,000 people go to it down on the River Walk.

On the last Friday of San Antonio Fiesta, we have The Battle Of Flowers Parade. For 2011, it will be Friday, April 15. Believe it or not, this day is a holiday for most of San Antonio. Many businesses (not mine) shut down and so do all of the schools and colleges. The parade is broadcast on TV and it is one of the biggest parades in the United States, attended by over 300,000 and watched by many more at home who have the day off from work, but who do not want to fight the crowds.

The Fiesta Flambeau Parade takes place on the final Saturday evening of Fiesta. It is a two hour nighttime street parade in downtown San Antonio, complete with marching bands and lighted floats. It draws a crowd of about 500,000 and it, too, is televised.

In addition to the events listed above, there are many other events going on during these ten days in April all over the city. Some events are free and others cost an admission fee plus you have to buy your own food and drinks. For more information on all that Fiesta has to offer, visit the official Fiesta web site.

For 2012, Fiesta will be held from April 19 through April 29.

For 2013, Fiesta will be held from April 18 through April 28.

For 2014, Fiesta will happen from April 17 through April 27.

Many visitors come in from all over Texas for some of these events.

Fiesta 2011

Fiesta Fashion Show

Do you enjoy seeing the work of new clothing designers? If so, the Fiesta Fashion Show may be something you will enjoy. Do you love clothes? Would you rather buy new clothes than anything else? Then you will love this show.

The designers are fashion design students at the University of the Incarnate Word. The students draw designs and then create a whole collection of their work and make the clothes in a course at the University. So what you experience is a wide array of clothing from brand new talented artists whose work you have never before seen. It is an exciting time for the new designers as well as the attendants.

The design students also produce and direct the Cutting Edge Fiesta Fashion Show. They find professional models and hire them, stage the show, and choose the lighting and sound. The show is produced just like a New York City fashion show during fashion week! If you have ever been to one of those fabulous fashion shows, you know how much fun they are!

The proceeds from ticket sales go to scholarships for students at the University of the Incarnate Word. Individual tickets can be purchased for $75. Tables of 10 can be bought for either $1500, $1000, or $750. For 2009, the fashion show is on Monday, April 20 at 10am, followed by a luncheon at 11:30am at the Marriott Rivercenter Hotel at 101 Bowie Street.

Remember to attend this official Fiesta event, see a great show put on by up and coming designers, enjoy a delicious lunch, (I have eaten at this hotel and they have excellent food, not to mention the catered service is wonderful) and help put fashion design students through school, all at the same time! Take someone who loves clothes and have fun.

Fiesta Oyster Bake

On the first weekend of Fiesta in San Antonio, St. Mary's University holds the Fiesta Oyster Bake. If you love oysters, you will not want to miss this. Buy your tickets early. This is one of the most crowded and popular events.

St. Mary's serves up over 100,000 oysters plus delicious turkey legs, grilled corn on the cob covered in butter and salt and so many more delicious dishes. 30 bands will play on five stages on campus during the two day event.

About 70,000 people faithfully attend this event each year. Most students and faculty attend and thousands from the community go year after year, especially alumni of St. Mary's University. It is sort of a "homecoming" event in the spring. This year it is on Friday night, April 17 and Saturday night, April 18, 2009.

The St. Mary's Alumni Association, who sponsors Oyster Bake, grosses $2 million each year! Can you believe that? The money goes toward scholarships for needy students and for other school activities.

Tickets are needed to get into the event and food is not included in the ticket price. Additional tickets have to be purchased inside that are good for food and events so bring plenty of cash. You will have a blast. It really is fun and the entertainment is great.

Night In Old San Antonio

Night In Old San Antonio, aka NIOSA, is the biggest of the Fiesta parties during the 10 day celebration. Why? The main reason is the food. At least that is what everyone says when I ask them why they go to NIOSA.

No one has ever told me they go for the music, but there is quite a variety played each night. There is a good variety of live music played in various areas of La Villita over four nights. The music is Western, Mariachi, German oompah music, jazz/pop, rhythm and blues, Dixieland jazz, polkas, and on and on. You can see stage dances, cloggers, and you can dance to the lively music and burn off all of the delicious food they serve at La Villita.

Bring plenty of money so you can sample foods from 15 different cultures. Of course, there is plenty of Mexican food. But did you know there is also German food, French food including snails, and Polish, Irish, Chinese, American cuisine, and other foods. Yummo!

French beignets from New Orleans are there along with many other sweet goodies. If you have not been to New Orleans and had beignets, you are missing a real treat. Last summer, I got to go and they are incredible! So, if for no other reason, visit the NIOSA French Quarter and have some beignets.

For 2009, the dates of a Night In Old San Antonio are April 21 through April 24 from 5:30pm until 10:30pm each night. There is an admission fee. Tickets can be purchased ahead of time or at the door.

NIOSA dates for 2010 are April 20 through April 23.

For 2011, the dates are April 19 through April 22.

For 2012, the dates are April 24 through April 27.

Come and plan to have a great time listening to live entertainment while you try great new foods.


Texas Cavaliers River Parade

The Texas Cavaliers River Parade takes place on the San Antonio River, along the Riverwalk on the first Monday night of Fiesta. For 2011, it is on Monday, April 11 from 7pm to 9:30pm. Eva Longoria of Desperate Housewives will be the grand marshall!

There are 17,000 reserved seats on sale for the parade, but most of the 250 people who see it in person are standing on the Riverwalk or on a bridge above the Riverwalk, or are eating at one of the sidewalk cafes on the Riverwalk.

If you do not want to go to the Riverwalk among all of the crowds, the parade is on live television in San Antonio. I prefer to watch it at home because I can be in my uncrowded, air conditioned home and I can get drinks, snacks, or use the facilities and not worry about losing my concrete seat!

Local television anchors describe each float as it comes along and you can see everything up close and personal.

If you do buy tickets for the parade, I suggest carrying stadium seating seat cushions with you to avoid a numb bottom. If you have ever attended a football game, you will know exactly what I mean. Two and a half hours of sitting on concrete is a long time.

If you want to go to the parade, be smart and make reservations at one of the many eateries for an outdoor cafe table during the parade. A lot of people do this. That way, you can sit and watch while you eat a delicious meal and you can use the restaurant restroom if needed.

There are at least 40 river floats each year. Some contain celebrities. The floats are sponsored by military installations and community organizations. Each year, the parade has a theme. For 2011, the theme is "The River of Dreams."

Battle Of Flowers Parade

The Battle Of Flowers Parade is the highlight of Fiesta in San Antonio. Fiesta is an 11 day party in San Antonio and on the final Friday afternoon, we have a street parade downtown to commemorate the Battle of Flowers. This day is a holiday in San Antonio. Schools are closed and so are a lot of businesses.

When I first moved to San Antonio, ten years ago and heard about this day, I envisioned tulips fighting daisies with swords and fists. Absolutely hysterical! I have since learned that the Battle Of Flowers commemorates the Battle of San Jacinto, when Texas won its independence from Mexico on April 21, 1836.

The parade honors the Alamo's heroes and everyone who participates in it is asked to bring a flower wreath to put on the front lawn of the Alamo as they pass by.

Interestingly enough, this parade is not on the San Antonio River. It is a normal marching parade in downtown San Antonio.

The 2011 parade was on Friday, April 15 and started at 12:45pm. If you cannot make it downtown, you can watch it live on local television. This year's theme is Hats Off To Texas. The parade is one of the biggest parades in the United States, attended by over 300,000 and watched by many more at home who have the day off from work.

Nine high school bands in the San Antonio area are chosen to march and play in the parade. It is a great honor to be chosen to be in the parade. A lot of families take their children and teens and go down and cheer for the bands from their high schools.

No matter what the weather is like, this is a crowded parade route filled with happy San Antonians and visitors from all over the state. The visitors pour into San Antonio for Fiesta, and especially for the final weekend.

Tickets to sit in the Alamo Grandstands and the Cenotaph Stands are $18. Tickets to sit on the Alamo Street bleachers are $15. To sit in the Maverick and Broadway bleachers, the cost is $12.

Eva Longoria Fiesta 2011

Fiesta Flambeau Parade

The Fiesta Flambeau Parade is held on the final Saturday night of Fiesta, through the streets of downtown San Antonio. Our city is very proud that this parade is the biggest lit up nighttime parade in the entire United States!

This parade is also known as the people's parade and approximately 700,000 people line the streets to watch it. Of course, if you are in San Antonio, you can watch it live on television from the comfort of your hotel room or vacation home. About 1.5 million people watch it on television across southern Texas. It is a very big deal!

Traditionally, the parade is started off with the fabulous sounds of the University of Texas Longhorn Band. This one is not just a local event. Bands from as far away as Arkansas, Alabama, Florida, Mexico, Oregon, and Hawaii.

This is a wonderful parade with horses, precision marching teams and a lot of illuminated floats and other things to see. The kids will love seeing all of the lights.

For 2009, the theme of the parade is Flambeau--Vegas Style. It starts at 7:45pm and the parade route is 2.6 miles long.

Tickets to sit in the Alamo Grandstands and the Cenotaph Stands are $18. Tickets to sit on the Alamo Street bleachers are $15. To sit in the Maverick and Broadway bleachers, the cost is $12.

Fiesta Cascarones

At Easter and during the 10 days of San Antonio's biggest party, Fiesta, you will see fiesta cascarones being smashed on people's heads.

Here in San Antonio, people save up their egg shells for months before spring. They carefully break their eggs near the top, smaller part of the eggs. They wash them, and dry them out. Then they fill them with confetti, and glue colored tissue paper on the top of the eggs.

Many people do not make their own cascarones. Don't worry. You can buy confetti-filled eggs at any grocery store in San Antonio during the March and April spring season. Super Wal-Mart and Super Target also carry them. Stores cannot keep them in stock. On Easter Sunday, you will see families in parks all over the city with them.

If that is not enough, people park along busy roads all over San Antonio and set up little stands selling dozens of homemade cascarones in egg cartons for your smashing pleasure. These stands are always crowded because San Antonians buy dozens of them at a time.

For some reason unbeknownst to me, San Antonians get a kick out of smashing these confetti-filled eggs on the heads of anyone from friends and relatives to total strangers and not only at Fiesta events. I have been smashed in the head with them at church on Easter Sunday. For some, they are fun but it gives me a headache when they smash them too hard on me and who wants a head of hair with eggshells and confetti, especially on Easter Sunday?

So beware. There is a good chance you will see them if you are in San Antonio for Easter


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    • Abecedarian profile image

      Abecedarian 6 years ago from These United States, Texas

      Interesting and informative hub. Love it. Fiesta week is a big thing in San Antonio, I love the Oyster Bake, but you just have to remember to use plenty of sun screen and wear a hat/cap because it's usually very hot and sometimes wet (rainy).