Fiesta, San Antonio’s 10-day spring festival, is back in full force this year. While many activities are geared toward families with children, the event has plenty to entertain grown-ups all week.
Fiesta dates back to 1891 — a simple parade to honor the memory of those who fought at the Alamo and in the Battle of San Jacinto. While the commemoration is still part of the festival, the event has morphed, much like New Orleans’s Mardi Gras, into a citywide party honoring the richness and diversity of cultures in the region. Today, Fiesta is full of spectacle and celebration, from colorful parades to fashion shows, live music, food and drink tastings, carnivals, golf tournaments, and more.
Events are planned and managed by a nonprofit volunteer organization, the Fiesta San Antonio Commission. By their estimates, it rakes in about $340 million per year. Some events are free, while others require tickets. Funds raised are earmarked for services for city residents, so you can feel good about where your vacation cash is going.
Here are some of the best experiences you’ll find at Fiesta San Antonio in 2023 from April 20–30.
1. Fiesta At HemisFair
The official opening ceremony to Fiesta is held at the HemisFair grounds — the farmlands of the Alamo in the 18th century. The property was transformed into a 92-acre park in the 1960s and it still features a number of historic structures.
As Fiesta’s kickoff party, this is a sort of sampler of individual events. You’ll find live entertainment, a parade, a military salute, and food and beverage vendors. A fireworks display closes out the event.
2. Fiesta Flower Show
The Woman’s Club of San Antonio has been organizing this loving ode to buds and blossoms for 107 years. The show features all manner of horticultural and floral design exhibits, from creative bouquets to artworks rendered in flowers. The event is held at the Woodward House, a Victorian mansion built in 1904 by Atlee Ayers, perhaps the best-known architect in Texas.
3. Fiesta Oyster Bake
Sponsored by the St. Mary’s University Alumni Association, and held on the college’s grounds, this is a don’t-miss event for foodies and music lovers. It features more than 50 bands and live entertainers representing a variety of genres. A small army of volunteers serve up 100,000 baked and raw oysters, plus San Antonio favorites like fried chicken breasts with jalapeno (served on a stick, of course), hamburgers, and street corn. Proceeds go toward scholarships and other programs at the university.
4. Taste Of New Orleans
Back for its 36th year, Taste of New Orleans brings a bit of the Big Easy to the Lone Star State. Held at the open-air Sunken Garden Theater of Brackenridge Park, the event benefits, among others, graduating high school seniors by funding college scholarships.
From boisterous brass bands to small jazz ensembles, Taste of New Orleans brings the spirit of this Southern sister city to vibrant life. You can try everything from staple New Orleans dishes like gumbo, red beans, and rice to shrimp Creole, soft-shell crab, Cajun catfish, alligator, etouffee, and beignets.
5. This Hallowed Ground
If “Remember the Alamo” is about all you remember from high school lessons about the historic battle, lace up your sneakers and join this free walking tour. Courtesy of local historians in period garb, you’ll learn about 12 key sites along Alamo Plaza, and the events that occurred at each.
6. Midnight In The Garden Of Good And Evil
The enchanting San Antonio Botanical Garden is the backdrop for this masquerade event. Don your best mask and join the party on the indoor/outdoor patio. Tickets include live music and entertainment, a silent auction, an open bar with specialty cocktails, and a Fiesta-themed menu. Proceeds go toward a San Antonio LGBTQ nonprofit.
7. Ford Mariachi Festival
Stake out your spot on the scenic San Antonio Riverwalk for this celebration of Mariachi music. As colorful, decorated floats bob along the water, you’ll get a taste of the talent to be found in student bands from local high schools and colleges. Some boats include costumed folklorico dancers and musicians.
8. Battle Of The Flowers Parade
You might expect the Battle of the Flowers Parade to be big, bold, and blooming. Now, multiply that expectation by 10. The oldest parade in the country produced entirely by volunteer women, it was founded as a commemorative parade back in 1891. The Battle of the Flowers benefits a variety of nonprofits through the sale of 45,000 parade seats. While marching bands play, you’ll be treated to the sight of dozens of floats — and people — decked out in fresh and artificial flowers.
9. King William Fair
Along 15 residential blocks, many lined with handsome Victorian homes, in the quiet King William neighborhood, you’ll find this quirky event. A smorgasbord of Fiesta celebrations, it features a 2-mile parade with everything from mermaids to live camels.
More than 200 arts and crafts vendors from Texas and beyond are featured, selling a range of wares like handmade leather sandals, jewelry, local honey, and more. Five stages are dedicated to live entertainment. And there’s food and drink galore, with 65 vendors representing an array of cuisine styles and beverages. Proceeds benefit the preservation of this historic district.
10. Annual Fiesta Concert
The San Antonio Symphonic Band will send you off in high spirits with a selection of traditional and new concert band music that celebrates the culture of San Antonio. They’re slated to play a range of styles, from military to movies and show tunes. The event is free and takes place at the St. Margaret Mary Catholic Church in Southside San Antonio.
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