The flowers bloom in April for San Antonio’s largest festival as the city takes a break for fun, families included. Fiesta San Antonio offers a 10-day celebration with hundreds of thousands filling the streets for a couple of the largest parades in the country. Add foodie festivals and the crack of cascarones, or confetti-filled eggs, and you have the recipe for family fun.
NOTE: Due to COVID-19 Fiesta San Antonio has been cancelled for 2020.
Fiesta Fiesta @ Hemisphere
As the opening event of Fiesta, crack your fist cascarone in the shadow of the Hemisphere Tower. See the Royal Court and sample your favorite carnival or Tex-Mex food.
Located at Hemisphere , 434 S. Alamo St. Gates open at 3 p.m. Free to enter.
For an old-school carnival take the kids to an for all the rides and food. Open every day of Fiesta.
Located in the Alamodome Parking Lot C, 449 S. Cherry St. Open for 11 a.m. to midnight. Free to enter.
NIOSA–A Night in Old San Antonio
Celebrate the unique heritage of San Antonio with a ultimate foodie festival. Featuring 250 different booths and non-stop entertainment from more than a dozen stages, this is the festival party.
Located at La Villita, 418 Villita St. gates open at 5:30 p.m. Advanced tickets available. Kids under 12 are free with an accompanying adult.
The Texas Cavaliers River Parade
As the first of three parades for Fiesta San Antonio, take a seat under a cypress tree along the San Antonio River Walk for an illuminated night parade. And see 45 river boats float by as each lights up the night sky.
The parade starts at 7 p.m. and lasts until 9 p.m. Advanced reserved seating is available.
Battle of Flowers Parade
Infused with tradition and history, the Battle of Flowers parade gives the city of San Antonio a reason to celebrate. And the school kids get the day off to enjoy the fun.
First catch the Battle of the Flowers Parade for the largest parade organized entirely by volunteers. Since 1891 ladies dressed in yellow direct the spectators to their reserved seats for the second largest day parade in the country.
During our visit, we secured reserved seating in the shadow of the Alamo. The Battle of Flowers Parade kicks off with a band, military, universityand local high school bands all march. The bedazzled members of the Fiesta Courtdressed in historic sequined costumes don elaborate flowered floats enchanted the tiniest girls. Giant helium balloons and drill teams made an appearance in the parade too.
Tradition is king at Fiesta and extended families sit in the same spots every year to make a day of it with elaborate parade-side picnics. Though food vendors provide everything from traditional Tex-Mex favorites to carnival classics.
The parade starts at 12:20 p.m. and lasts until 4 p.m., the route proceeds down Broadway and E. Grayson. Advance reserved seating is available.
Fiesta Flambeau Night Parade
Next San Antonio pops a million glow sticks for the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. The largest illuminated night parade in the country with 700,000 people along the sideline and another 1.5 million watching on TV.
A lively parade, that’s similar in style and length to Battle of Flowers Parade but not the same participants. Fiesta San Antonio is a family affair, though younger kids might get cranky by the end.
The parade starts at 7:00 p.m. and lasts until 10:00 p.m., the route proceeds down Broadway and E. Grayson. Advance reserved seating is available.
More Family Fun in San Antonio
While in San Antonio tour the Alamo. Built in 1718 by Spanish missionaries, the Texas Revolution escalated and the Alamo became the center of the conflict. In 1836, after a nearly two-week long siege, the Battle of the Alamo broke out between William B. Travis, commander of the Alamo and General Santa Anna and the Mexican troops.
Though the defenders of the Alamo died in the battle, the legend lives on. In 2015, the United Nations designated the Alamo and the remaining four San Antonio Missions a UNESCO World Heritage site.
After the parades, some history and a couple of tacos, the kids need to play. So head to the Yanaguana Garden, named after the Payaya Indians. And find a crazy fun climbing structure, a sandscape, a splash pad and a public art area with changing rooms and restrooms located in HemisFair Park.
Where to Stay
To enjoy all that downtown San Antonio offers, I always stay on the River Walk. The Hotel Contessa, 306 W. Market St., is an all-suite boutique hotel on the River Walk with 265-rooms across 12 floors.
And the location can’t be beat–just steps away from La Villita, HemisFair Park and the Briscoe Western Art Museum. So find a quiet location perfect for families in the middle of the action, just not the bars.
Where to Eat:
Be sure and grab a table next to River Walk to share a plate of nachos and sip on a margarita as the river boats float by. My favorite place is the original Tex-Mex restaurant on the River Walk, Casa Rio, 430 E. Commerce St.
Since 1946 it’s been serving up steaming plates of enchiladas. Got a picky eater? Try a bean and cheese taco, my boys love them.
Getting Around Downtown San Antonio
Most major airlines service the San Antonio International Airport, that’s 10 miles north of Downtown San Antonio. Cab service or pubic transportation is available at the airport.
Love to Ride? Try out San Antonio’s B Cycle, a bike sharing program. The cycles are rented by the hour after a small fee and bike from one attraction to the next.
Via Streetcar, operated by San Antonio’s public transportation system VIA, offers several color colored routes to popular tourist destinations, like El Mercado and the King William District. My kids love riding the streetcars and a $4 day pass offers an easy way to get around downtown on the cheap.
Consideration for brands mentioned.
Know Before You Go:
- Downtown hotels charge for parking, some offer self-parking.
- The Alamo is especially hallowed ground for Texans, please remove hats and photos are prohibited inside of the mission, the main building.
- With the majority of attractions located within walking distance, walk or take public transportation instead of driving since parking is limited during busy events.
- The Alamo doesn’t have designated parking though a parking lot is nearby.
- Arrive early for the Fiesta Parades before the streets close to vehicle traffic.
- Reserved seats for the parades sell out.