Fiesta® 101, Kids’ Edition: Tips for Family Fun

It’s April, and you know what that means… the greatest time of year in San Antonio: Fiesta®!

The best part of our great 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 the imagination! From nightlife to family-centric events, you can 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’ll need to take some money with you to enjoy all of them. Besides the obvious like water and sunblock, here are some tips on how to make the most of Fiesta with your family in 2024. ¡Viva Fiesta!

What exactly is Fiesta?

As a longtime San Antonian, Fiesta is just a normal part of our holiday schedule. A whole season to party? Great! I freely admit that when I was growing up, I didn’t fully realize the historic significance of the celebration. Make sure you give your kids some of the 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 has grown and thrived, and is now a citywide celebration that showcases San Antonio’s diverse neighborhoods, nightlife, music, arts, and dining. Plus, Fiesta is the ultimate “Party with a Purpose,” because 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, or visit the official store, Fiesta at North Star®. Also, explain to your kids that there a few traditions central to Fiesta: 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.
  • Big hats: 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: 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

During Fiesta, your kids can get a kick out of meeting a real king or queen! 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 medals! During parades you are supposed to ask Fiesta royalty to “show us your shoes!” Some, mostly the queens and princesses, will give you a glimpse of their elaborately designed shoes. But the dresses – oh the dresses! – you really have to see to believe.


Although they may be both epic and unique, I honestly don’t recommend the big parades – that is, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade, the Battle of Flowers parade, and the Fiesta Flambeau – if your kids are under the age of five. These parades take massive amounts of coordination and are often very crowded, which can result in lag times between the floats or entertainment. I’ve found that little kids just don’t have the patience to sit there when there is nothing happening, or deal with the sheer number 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 you talk to them about what to do if you get separated. Have a plan in place, just in case.

Just because the big parades are daunting, it doesn’t mean families with young children have to miss out! I know a lot of people who love the King William Fair and Parade. It’s both smaller-scale and kid-friendly, with characters of all types. If you want to show your children it is cool to be “weird,” then this is surely the place! That said, 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 and 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 child may want to participate or just be a spectator! When you’re a kid, the only thing more exciting than a Fiesta shoebox parade is the fact that most local ISDs consider the Battle of Flowers to be a school holiday. You know you live in South Texas when you get a day off to Fiesta!

Arts: Fiesta Arts Fair

I’m a big fan of the Fiesta Arts Fair at the Southwest School of Art because it has a mix of awesome shopping, food, and music. But what we really go for is 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

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, and so cool!

A Few More 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. Check out this ACM guide to kid-friendly events.

Whether you’re taking the kids or taking the night off, find your favorite part of Fiesta San Antonio 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!

Updated by Anastasia from an original post by Kristen R.

Born and raised South Texan who has explored living in other states but there is no place like home. She loves being in the "room where it happens" and carries many different titles: mama to a bubbling boy and girly girl, wife to an associate pastor, communications consultant, and a variety of mis pronunciations of her name {Honest- Asia}. Mostly found with a large unsweet tea or iced Americano in hand at The Pearl, Yanaguana at the Hemisfair, side lines of games in Floresville, or exploring the trails of the San Antonio river.