Gorditas, Floats and Royalty: Fiesta is San Antonio’s Most Popular – and Unconventional – 11-Day Celebration

Megan Lagrone |

2019 Dates: April 18-28

San Antonio (January 28, 2019)

What is it: Fiesta is a citywide celebration held every April in San Antonio. This year marks 127 years since the start of this annual party. Each year, more than 100 events take place throughout the city, including festive parades, patriotic observances, exhibits, creative culinary offerings and more. Eccentric hats, live music, elaborate gowns worn by Fiesta “royalty” and Fiesta medals are the norm in San Antonio during this unconventional festival.

Dates: April 18-28, 2019

History: Fiesta began in 1891 as a way to honor the memory of the fallen heroes of the Alamo and the victors of the Battle of San Jacinto, both key battles in the fight for Texas’ independence. The inaugural event featured the first Battle of the Flowers parade where women threw flowers at each other as they walked around the Alamo. Today, the parade has grown to be the second-largest float parade in the U.S., and Fiesta has evolved into one of the nation’s premier festivals with more than 3.5 million people attending each year, 20 percent of whom travel from across the state, nation and world. 

Fiesta Royalty: Each year, “kings,” “queens,” “princesses,” “duchesses” and more are crowned as “Fiesta Royalty.” Attire is a major component, and women don elaborate gowns with long trains fully-embellished in crystals and adornments that take nearly a year to complete.  Chosen by committees based on their charitable works, the Fiesta “court” reigns for a year (with duties including additional charitable work throughout the city) before the next one is ushered in. A Latino “Rey Feo,” or “Ugly King,” is also named during Fiesta, a reign achieved by raising at least $250,000 for scholarships in a competition against another candidate.

Food: Across the more than 100 official Fiesta events, food plays a large part of the celebrations. Traditional San Antonio favorites such as gorditas, chicken on a stick and aguas frescas can be found a majority of Fiesta celebrations. Some events feature specialty menus such as baked oysters, shypoke eggs and a variety of German sausages.

Fiesta Medals: Decorative pins representing local celebrities and organizations are among the most highly coveted items in San Antonio during Fiesta. Parties are often held throughout the city for the sole purpose of exchanging medals, and locals collect as many as possible and display them proudly on sashes at Fiesta events.

Popular Events: Fiesta San Antonio now has more than 100 official events. See below for a roundup of some of the most popular celebrations. For a complete list, visit here.

Fiesta Fiesta at Hemisfair – April 18

Fiesta 2019 kicks off at the recently revamped and expanded Hemisfair with live entertainment and fireworks. At the neighboring Marriott Plaza, visitors can visit Taste of the Republic, an exclusive culinary celebration featuring a range of Texan cuisines.

Texas Cavaliers River ParadeApril 22

Every year, this one-of-a-kind parade takes place on the banks of the San Antonio River with thousands of onlookers. In addition to more than 45 festively decorated river barges, the event also features live music and celebrity guests. (Photo: page 1, top of release)

A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada – April 21 & 28

This popular event upholds the deep-rooted customs of the traditional Mexican Charreada, Mexico’s national sport similar to a rodeo. Great for all ages, it features gourmet fare, pony rides for kids, Ballet Folklorico, live Mariachi music and, of course, a Charreada.  (Photo: page 2, top right).

NIOSA (A Night in Old San Antonio) – April 24-27

Each year during Fiesta, San Antonio’s historic La Villita neighborhood hosts approximately 85,000 locals and visitors over four nights for live entertainment and local food representing the customs, history and culture of San Antonio.

Battle of the Flowers Parade – April 26

Bright and colorful floats, marching bands and entertainers fill the streets of downtown San Antonio. The crowd asks Fiesta royalty to “show us your shoes”—an unusual, yet beloved tradition that has spurred an unofficial competition for the best footwear among parade participants. (Photo: page 1, second from top, right)

The King William Fair – April 27

Taking place on the streets of the historic King William district, home to a multitude of stately Victorian homes and gorgeous gardens, the King William Fair is a family-friendly event with art and craft vendors, live music and food and beverage booths and its own (rather quirky) parade. 

Fiesta Flambeau Parade – April 27

The Fiesta Flambeau Parade is the nation’s largest illuminated parade. The 2.6-mile parade route illuminates the streets of downtown San Antonio with floats, bands and entertainers fully adorned with lights. The parade draws more than 750,000 spectators and an additional 1.5 million television viewers each year. (Photo: page 3, above right)

For more information on the festival, activations, additional events and tickets, please visit


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Megan Lagrone

About Visit San Antonio:

Visit San Antonio is a 501(c)6 that serves as the sales and marketing arm of San Antonio, a leading leisure and meetings destination. San Antonio welcomes 31.1 million overnight leisure visitors annually. Hospitality is one of the top five industries in the city, contributing $15.2 billion to the local economy and employing more than 140,000 people. More information about Visit San Antonio can be found at