It’s almost April, and you know what that means… the greatest time of year in San Antonio: Fiesta®!
Fiesta is back, y’all, with over 100 events running March 31–April 10! The best part of our city’s claim to fame is that it really has something for everyone. All times of day, all types of entertainment, parades of all varieties on land and water—the list is beyond any imagination. From nightlife to family-centric events, pick your favorites or check out all of them. With more than 100 events to choose from, you really can’t go wrong. Some are listed as free, but let’s get real—you need to take money for all of them. Besides the obvious like water and sunblock, here are some tips on how to do Fiesta with your family in 2022. ¡Viva Fiesta!
What exactly is Fiesta?
As a longtime San Antonian, Fiesta is just part of our holiday schedule. Growing up, I did not fully realize the historic significance. Give your kids some cultural context and explain why we celebrate Fiesta. Per the official Fiesta website, “Fiesta San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event as a way to honor the memory of the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.” This first parade had horse-drawn carriages, bicycles decorated with flowers, and floats carrying children. From that first event, Fiesta caught on and is now a citywide celebration that showcases San Antonio’s diverse neighborhoods, nightlife, music, arts, and dining. Plus, Fiesta is the “Party with a Purpose,” as most of the money raised goes right back into our community for development and preservation.
Get your Fiesta attire ready!
Fiesta has a dress code: colorful and fun! To help kids really get into the spirit, help them pick out some Fiesta-wear in bright colors, get them some flower crowns, or help them make a crazy hat. H-E-B offers a great selection of Fiesta apparel for a good price. Also, explain to your kids a few super Fiesta-y traditions: medals, big hats, and cascarones.
- Fiesta medals: Some people collect medals and wear them on vests, sashes, jackets, and hats. Each medal is unique, and many represent or benefit area charities. Some are free, and some cost a lot of money. And some people are medal fanatics.
- When it comes to hats, many Fiesta-goers feel that bigger is better. They make the hats themselves and include fun decorations, Spurs signs, and more.
- Cascarones are colorfully dyed eggshells filled with confetti. Contrary to what you may have heard, it is in poor taste to just smash them on someone’s head; that hurts and is rude. To properly use a cascaron, you hold it over someone’s head, break the eggshell with your hand, and let the confetti fall out.
Kings and Queens
Your kids may get a kick out of meeting a real king or queen. Explain to them that another Fiesta tradition (yes, there are many!) is the naming of various kings, queens, and duchesses who represent local organizations. Two of the highest-profile Fiesta royalty titles include King Antonio, the official King of Fiesta, and El Rey Feo, the people’s king. The elected royalty work to raise money for the organization they represent. Sometimes they even give out free Fiesta medals! During parades you are supposed to ask Fiesta royalty to “show us your shoes!” Some, mostly the queens and princesses, will show you elaborately designed shoes. But the dresses, oh the dresses, you have to see to believe.
Although they are epic and unique, I honestly don’t recommend the big parades—the Texas Cavaliers River Parade, the Battle of Flowers, and the Fiesta Flambeau—if your kids are under five. These parades take massive amounts of coordination and are often very crowded, which can result in lag times between floats or entertainment. I find that little kids just don’t have the patience to sit there or deal with the sheer amount of people in close proximity. If you do brave the big parades, buy tickets in advance, tell your kids what to expect, and make sure to talk to them about what happens if you get separated. Have a plan in place just in case. I know a lot of people who love the King William Fair and Parade. It’s smaller-scale and kid-friendly, with characters of all types. If you want to show your children it is cool to be “weird,” this is the place. But you’re never really going to understand our city’s special quirks until you see the Pooch Parade. Trust me, your life will never be the same.
Speaking of parades, many schools or daycares host a Fiesta “shoebox” float parade for students. This is something I didn’t even know about until our oldest started preschool. Using stickers, tissue paper, and various other craft materials, kids decorate shoeboxes to resemble parade floats and pull them through the hallways of their schools. Your kid may want to participate or be a spectator. When you’re a kid, the only thing more exciting than a Fiesta shoebox parade is the fact that most local schools consider the Battle of Flowers to be a school holiday. You know you live in South Texas when…
A Few More Family Fun Events
Here are just a few more Fiesta events on my list to check out this year, each chosen with a different theme in mind for a well-rounded experience. Again, with more than 100 events, there is something for everyone.
Arts: Fiesta Arts Fair
I’m a big fan of the Fiesta Arts Fair at the Southwest School of Art because it has awesome shopping, food, and music. But we really go because they have the Young Artists’ Garden. Bring an empty bag to carry all your kids’ handmade masterpieces. Tip: Go early to get a close parking spot and beat the crowds.
Culture: Day in Old Mexico Charreada
A Charreada is a Mexican rodeo and a tradition that pre-dates the traditional cowboy. Held at the Charro Ranch, this event features food, drinks, pony rides for the kids, Ballet Folklorico performances, and live mariachi music. And a little shout out for girl power: the female side-saddle riders are fierce!
Fitness/Wellness: Walk for Autism/Superhero 5K
If your kids are into superheroes, this is the event for them, regardless of whether or not they are on the autism spectrum. While the event benefits families raising children, youth, and adults with autism, everyone is encouraged to come dressed up as their favorite superhero to enjoy live music, food trucks, and games. It is literally a parade of superheroes. So cool.
Whether you’re taking the kids or taking the night off, find your favorite part of Fiesta San Antonio 2022 and fully embrace it! You really won’t regret it. Get out, taste something, and start traditions of your very own—let’s fiesta, family!