While more than half of Fiesta events are free, you’ll need to purchase a ticket for the rest. Buy them at the gate, or online at the Fiesta Store. Many events also require you to buy tickets for food and beverages once you are inside the gate.
What To Wear
Fiesta is vibrant and vivid - and so is the clothing! So, grab the most colorful items in your closet and your sash for your medal collection. And, if you really want to wow the Fiesta crowd, the more extravagant your hat, the better. Dress for beautiful warm weather (check San Antonio weather here), in confetti-welcoming garb and don't forget your sunscreen. You'll do a lot of walking, and perhaps a lot of dancing, so we recommend comfortable shoes. Need more ideas on what to wear? Check out Fiesta fashion here.
Parking is at a premium downtown. Spaces are hard to come by, traffic is heavy, and many parking lots only take cash. If you do decide to drive and find a place to park, make note of where you’re leaving your car so that you can easily find it afterward. Better yet, grab a cab for a stress-free ride (estimate fares and call a taxi here.) Enjoy the festivities and skip the hassle of parking! Catch the VIA park and ride downtown to select events like Oyster Bake, A Tast of New Orleans, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade, NIOSA, the Battle of Flowers Parade, King William Parade and the Fiesta Flambeau Parade for just $2.50/person each way!
All official Fiesta events are sponsored by local non-profit organizations, and they deal in cash for admission tickets and food and beverages, so bring plenty of cash.
A non-smoking ordinance is in effect within the public right of way and in any seats within the public right of way or city property along the three major Fiesta parade routes (Texas Cavaliers River Parade, Battle of Flowers and Fiesta Flambeau).
Although Porta-Potties are plentiful at Fiesta events, expect to stand in line, so plan accordingly. It’s smart to carry some toilet paper and hand sanitizer with you.
Look for recycling and trash containers to dispose of waste at Fiesta events.
Having your hands free to hold food and drink means that your handbag should have a long strap to sling across your body, or improvise some other solution.
What in the world is a cascarone?
These colorful eggshells are filled with confetti and are for sale all over Fiesta. Break one in your hand over someone’s head to show you care.
Why does everyone have medals pinned all over them?
It's a long standing tradition, among many locals, to obtain and wear as many Fiesta medals as possible. You'll see some folks wearing their weight in medals, fastened to sashes and hats. It's a point great pride to San Antonions, so feel free to compliment them. Buy a Fiesta medal at the official Fiesta store.
Fiesta Fun Facts
The Battle of Flowers Parade was first held in 1891 to honor the heroes of the Battle of the Alamo (March 6, 1836) and the Battle of San Jacinto (April 21, 1836). The procession featured flower-covered horse-drawn carriages, bicycles adorned with fresh flowers, children costumed as flowers riding on floats, and participants throwing flowers at each other.
Women Take the Lead
The Battle of Flowers Parade is the only parade in the U.S. that is planned and directed exclusively by women.Today, Fiesta annually involves 75,000 volunteers from 100 nonprofit groups who coordinate over 100 events.The Order of the Cascaron was formed in 1992 to recognize the outstanding efforts of volunteers who make Fiesta possible.
A Primer on Fiesta Royalty
The Order of the Alamo was founded in 1909. Every year, members meet to choose the Queen and her court, which includes a Princess, 12 Duchesses from San Antonio, and 12 Duchesses from outside of the city. King Antonio is chosen by The Texas Cavaliers, an organization founded in 1926 and the sponsor of the River Parade during Fiesta. El Rey Feo, the Ugly King, has been a tradition since 1947, an official part of Fiesta since 1980, and is sponsored by the LULAC Rey Feo Scholarship Committee. Rey Feo contenders raise funds for students to use toward college expenses and the candidates who raises the most gets the crown. Every charreada (a Mexican-style rodeo) needs a queen, so the Charro Queen rules over the annual Fiesta Charreada event at the Charro Ranch (6126 Padre Dr.), where performers show off their equestrian skills in the style and tradition of old Mexico. The Queen of Soul is chosen by the San Antonio Queen of Soul Board from a field of talented contestants during an annual pageant. One lucky young woman between the ages of 18 and 25 then represents the African-American community during Fiesta and for the following year.
Cornyation—The Silly Side of Fiesta
King Anchovy, a spirited spoof on King Antonio, is chosen by the Cornyation committee, which produces an extremely popular and spirited spoof on King Antonio’s coronation. Cornyation donations (more than $500,000 so far) go to local charities such as the San Antonio AIDS Foundation.
Celebrate San Antonio's Heritage at NIOSA
A Night In Old San Antonio® (NIOSA®) is a four-night festival in the heart of downtown San Antonio that celebrates the city’s diverse cultural legacy for more than 85,000 revelers annually. Through the magic of 240-plus food, drink and atmosphere booths; 13 live musical acts; children’s games; decorations; souvenirs; and costumed volunteers, NIOSA brings the city’s heritage alive in 15 cultural areas. Sponsored by and benefiting the San Antonio Conservation Society (one of the nation’s oldest and most active historic preservation organizations), the 68th presentation of NIOSA will be held Tuesday through Friday evening, April 19-22, 2016, during the city's Fiesta® San Antonio celebration.
NIOSA is one of the top fundraisers for historic preservation in the nation and truly lives up to its motto as a “Celebration for Preservation.” Beginning with efforts to prevent historic structures from being razed and to preserve such unique features as the city's Spanish Colonial missions, the Society is credited with saving most of the historic attractions that now make San Antonio one of the top tourist destinations in Texas.
What makes NIOSA unique from festivals around the world? Food items are created, perfected, and prepared by NIOSA volunteers on-site and truly reflect the areas where they can be found. In fact, sometimes the only place they can be enjoyed is at NIOSA. All booths are run by Conservation Society volunteers from across the country, many of whom are second or third generation members.
On average, NIOSA revelers annually consume over 31,000 lbs. of beef; 14,750 lbs. of chicken; 9,800 lbs. of sausage; 3,200 turkey legs; 56,500 buns, rolls and bolillos; 36,645 flour tortillas; 11,000 tamales; 29,120 lbs. of fruit and vegetables; and 4,000 lbs. of guacamole.
Rain, Rain Stay Away
Spring weather can be tricky, and while we want May flowers we don’t necessarily want the April showers to fall during Fiesta. The Rain Rock is officially hung on a tree next to the NIOSA headquarters in La Villita at 227 S. Presa on the first Monday of Fiesta to chase away bad weather. This is a 30-year tradition started by a NIOSA volunteer, who learned about it from an old West Texas cowboy.
Cascarones are hand-decorated, hollowed-out eggshells filled with confetti. To have a cascarone cracked open and confetti poured on your head is said to bring good luck. They first appeared at NIOSA in 1959. About 35 volunteers from the Conservation Society work year-round making more than 120,000 cascarones to sell at NIOSA. In the past 50 years, cascarones sales have resulted in more than $605,000 for historical preservation projects in the San Antonio area.
Fiesta medals and pins are an integral part of the celebration. Maybe because San Antonio is a military town? Numerous organizations create medals to sell or give away each year, with the goal being to collect as many as you can. King Antonio XLIX is credited with starting the tradition in 1971, when he put 200 royal coins on ribbons and distributed them at Fiesta events. If you have an opportunity to shake hands with Fiesta royalty, you may be lucky enough to have a medal slide into your palm.