The first Fiesta San Antonio was held in 1891 to commemorate the battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto, two pivotal events in the Texas Revolution that resulted in the Texan independence from the Republic of Mexico. Local women decorated carriages, bicycles and baby buggies with live flowers, met in front of the Alamo Mission in San Antonio and threw blossoms at each other. What started as a one-parade event has evolved into one of North America’s largest festivals with an impressive attendance and economic impact.
Originally named simply Carnival, the event was renamed to Spring Carnival, Fiesta San Jacinto, and eventually Fiesta San Antonio. The festival received its current name in 1960. Its program has expanded over the years and now includes three major parades, balls, parties, crowning of local royalty, cultural and patriotic events, a carnival, and many more.
Fiesta San Antonio is held every spring, running for about two weeks in April. Its program includes over 100 events staged by local non-profit groups that make up the Fiesta San Antonio Commission. The festival is run entirely by volunteers.
The program of Fiesta San Antonio includes several major parades. The oldest one is the Battle of Flowers Parade that honors the memory of the patriots of the Texas Revolution. It is the only parade in the United States produced entirely by volunteer women. The parade is held on the second Friday of Fiesta, it features extravagant floats adorned with flowers.
Another major parade is the Fiesta Flambeau Parade. Founded in 1948, it is the country’s largest illuminated nighttime parade. The parade starts at sunset on the second Saturday of Fiesta San Antonio. Traditionally led by the University of Texas Longhorn Band, the procession includes spectacular floats, marching bands, equestrian units, dancers, and other participants.
Along with these two parades, the program of Fiesta includes a military parade, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade, the Fiesta Pooch Parade, pageants and crowning of the festival royalty, music events showcasing a variety of music genres (mariachi, Tejano, jazz, classical, pop, etc.), cultural events (art, automotive, dance, educational, fashion, flora & fauna, family, festive, historic), patriotic events (historic and military), and athletic events (walks, runs, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, bicycle rides, and more).
Photo: Katie Labor