The mountain laurels are in bloom, and the temperature is still weeks away from reaching triple digits. (I hope I didn’t just jinx us.) It’s halfway between Spring Break and the beginning of summer, which means Fiesta is just around the corner! Beyond the revelries of NIOSA and jesters of Cornyation, there is a bevy of festivities for families with children hoping to participate in San Antonio’s “largest party.”
Fiesta is a rite of passage for many: full of tradition and flair. We were eager to introduce our little ones to a part of the culture of our beloved hometown. We’ve settled down on our Fiesta experience, only taking in two or three events during the 11-day affair, but I’ve compiled a list of events for every day that promotes a family-friendly atmosphere and a range of experiences. ¡Viva Fiesta!
April 16th: The Witte Museum’s Jewels of the Court: A Journey Through Fiesta’s Coronation: This magnificent collection holds an array of breathtaking gowns, trains, and memorabilia pertaining to the the glamour of Fiesta’s Coronation. Children can dress up in robes and crowns as they pretend to be a part of Fiesta royalty.
April 17th: Fiesta Pops: This Fiesta tradition blends dance from the Guadalupe Dance Company and music from Sebastien De La Cruz, accompanied by the San Antonio Symphony.
April 18th: The first Saturday of Fiesta is packed with festivities. These are some family-tested picks:
Any Baby Can 5K: The event will feature the 11th Annual Walk for Autism, live music, food, activities for all, and new this year, the Superhero 5K run. Other activities and resources include: tricycles from Monarch Academy; an area called Rudy’s Playground, where organizations provide adaptive activities for individuals of all ages and abilities; and Fiesta de Los Jefes, which features interactive displays from the San Antonio Fire Department, San Antonio Police Department, and more.
Fiesta de los Niños: This is a free party for the “pint-sized folks”! Games, rides, and attractions are all available in an alcohol-free setting. Food booths and entertainers will round out the day, and don’t miss the Sombrero Loco parade—a kids’ parade that winds its way through Port San Antonio’s Town Center—at noon.
Viva Botanica: At this event, strollers get decked out for a parade through the Botanical Gardens. Kids’ crafts and games celebrate the natural beauty of San Antonio in spring. Volunteers from the Botanical Society will be hosting their ever-popular plant sale, featuring local plants friendly to San Antonio’s climate.
Fiesta Arts Fair: For 42 years, the Southwest School of Art & Craft has showcased the work of local artists at this award-winning event. Children can create their own masterpieces while listening to regional music and chowing down on Fiesta foods like turkey legs, fruit cups, and more!
April 19th: Deco District Arts & Music Festival: The Network for Young Artists (NYA) presents dozens of local and national performers at this most diverse and spirited celebration. The Historic Deco District serves as a culturally relevant backdrop for a series of local youth talent who seriously rock their socks off.
April 20th: Texas Cavaliers River Parade: “Believe” is the theme of this year’s river parade—a truly unique experience that attracts hundreds of thousands of people. The parade features more than 40 elaborately decorated floats carrying musicians, community members, and local celebrities while King Antonio XCIII reigns over the events along the winding route. The River Parade is often considered by locals to be the Opening Ceremonies of the Fiesta parades. Grab a ticket for a folding chair along the river banks, where you’re practically guaranteed a trinket or two tossed from the floats. Or watch from the comfort of home, with live coverage from KSAT.
April 21st: Mariachi Festival: This series is one of the oldest mariachi festivals in the nation. Each night features the musical talents of local junior high and high school performers in traditional mariachi form. Performers travel 2.5 miles along the river, sharing their gift of music.
April 22nd: Children’s Texas History Forum: Celebrate the history of the Alamo with a presentation on the heroes and heroines of the famous siege. Young history buffs will delight in the personal details and accounts shared by direct descendants from the days of Texas’ Republic.
April 23rd: Fiesta Especial Celebration Day: This event makes specific accommodations for Fiesta-goers who have special needs and disabilities. Fiesta activities include: rides, games, music, and crafts. Don’t delay—this FREE event REQUIRES RESERVATIONS IN ADVANCE. Make yours by calling (210) 656-6674 or emailing [email protected]
Family Fiesta: Now in its 25th year, Family Fiesta at Colonial Hills United Methodist Church is open to all Fiesta-goers looking for a family-friendly event with everything little ones could hope for, from pony rides and games to crafts and a petting zoo. Admission and parking are both free.
April 24th: Battle of Flowers Parade: The founding event of Fiesta has been going on for 123 years. Originally, it commemorated Texas’ victory over Mexico at the Battle of San Jacinto, paving the way for independence. Now it serves as a reminder of our heritage and honors tradition. It is the only parade in the nation produced by a volunteer organization made up entirely of women. A mix of glamour and community pride, the event attracts thousands to the streets of downtown San Antonio with their noisemakers and shouts of “show your shoes!” Members of the court are known for their elaborate gowns as much as their more practical choice of footwear. Cowboy boots are a popular choice, as are tennis shoes and even bunny slippers. Slather on the sunscreen and strap on your biggest sun hat before settling down along the route.
April 25th: Another Saturday of Fiesta means a whole series of events! Take your pick or try to make the rounds!
Fiesta Pooch Parade: Liven up your pooch’s morning walk with a little Fiesta spirit! Join in the Pooch Parade, a 2.6-mile route through the tree-lined streets of Alamo Heights. The costume contest is the highlight of the morning, with prizes going to the most spirited and creative get-ups.
King William Fair: We never miss the King William Fair. It starts with a funky parade congruent with Southtown’s vibe and settles into booths of all kinds along the streets of Texas’ first historical neighborhood. There’s a “Kid’s Kingdom” that spans an entire block and backs up to the San Antonio River. Growing up, I can’t tell you the number of poor goldfish we “won,” only to have to hand off the plastic baggie before we headed home. I don’t know if my mom wanted to spare us the heartache of inevitably losing the fish or the headache of keeping them. Either way, it’s a tradition our family continues.
United Way Kids Festival: This event takes place rain or shine and features stage performers and life-size characters like Mickey and Minnie Mouse. The event draws between 5,000–8,000 visitors to Lockwood Park and is especially appropriate for parents of young children, as many resources are geared toward early childhood development and education.
April 26th: Family Funday Sunday: Clark High School stays in step with Fiesta, but with a twist! They feature the “shortest parade,” followed by band performances and silent auctions benefiting the band. Popular songs and marching band standards are part of the set and are like a real live Gymboree class!
A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada: This Fiesta event is like an old-fashioned horse competition, complete with mariachi music, folklorico dancing, and traditional horse riding and rope tricks. With special guest King Antonio XCIII, it’s an exciting and enriching way to say adios to Fiesta 2015!
However you decide to celebrate Fiesta, I wish you much confetti in your hair, medals on your sash, and cups in your stack. ¡Viva Fiesta!
What are some of your favorite family-friendly Fiesta events? Please tell us in the comments!