A not-so-well-known River Walk activity each year is the San Antonio Mud Festival. Each year, the San Antonio River is drained in January, right after New Year’s Day.
This is so it can be cleaned up. Tourists drop all sorts of goodies in it, like cameras, cell phones, jewelry, toys, and so many other things. It is amazing to see on the news each year what is dropped in there! There is also a lot of trash, not to mention a ton of waste from all of the pigeons who live along the River Walk.
Our second most popular attraction with tourists, (the Alamo being number one), the River Walk is free to enjoy for everyone, but it is important to keep it looking clean. So for about eight days each January, the water is drained and everything is cleaned out.
Instead of this being a bummer for everyone, it was decided to turn this time into another fiesta. The Michelob Ultra Riverwalk Mud Festival was created. About 15,000 people take part in each year. There is a Mud Parade, an arts and crafts show, and a big party at the end of the celebration. A Mud King and Queen contest is held. And don’t forget about the Mud Coronation and also the Mud Pie Ball. Can you believe it?
It actually takes place once the river is refilled. For 2009, the river was drained from January 2 through 9 and the Mud Festival was held from January 8 through January 11.
If you are visiting the Alamo City the first week of January, don’t worry. Everything on the River Walk, except the actual river, will still be open. Sometimes when you are walking along, shopping and eating, you tend to forget that the water is actually there. If you have a good imagination, you can picture it and pretend it is there. I encourage you to hold off your visit until after the water is back, if at all possible because it really is a beautiful place to visit. The Christmas lights will be turned off, but the water will be back in about a week.