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. 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 eggshells 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.
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. Marys 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 eggshells 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 and for Fiesta.