If you're a recent transplant to San Antonio, chances are you don't know what Fiesta is really all about. Though the 11-day carnival is arguably the city's most cherished tradition, locals tend to keep it close to their chest. Unlike some other towns' touristy to-dos, this shindig is by locals and for locals.
Still, one must start somewhere. While there are dozens of official and unofficial events, these are some of the favorites newcomers shouldn't miss. Stock up on sunscreen and buy a new hat. It's time to party.
An event so nice they named it twice; this April 20 kickoff to the season packs Travis Park with food, fun, and fireworks from 4-10 pm. Free and open to the public, this party is also dog-friendly. Here's your chance to buy a puppy guayabera.
Taste of the Republic
This year, the culinary kickoff to Fiesta will take over San Antonio's most iconic venue. Grab a cocktail, walk the Alamo grounds, and nosh on bites from more than a dozen of the city's top chefs. April 20, 6-10 pm.
A Taste of New Orleans
Jazz fills the air at this tribute to the Big Easy, help at the Sunken Darden Theater April 21-23. The menu includes iconic NOLA bites like etouffee, gumbo, boudin, and beignets. There's also some lagniappe for the kiddos courtesy of face-painting booths and clowns.
Fiesta Oyster Bake
Aw shucks! The world is your oyster at this annual foodie festival, held April 21 and 22 from 5-11 pm. Dozens of vendors take over the St. Mary's University grounds, selling every possible iteration of signature shellfish. The music ain't too shabby, either. Headliners this year include Pat Green, Color Me Badd, and Everclear.
Alamo Heights Night
Party in the '09 during this family friendly block party featuring food, rides, and live entertainment. The one-night-only engagement takes place on April 21 at the University of the Incarnate Word.
Texas Cavaliers River Parade
This floating parade has been making a splash since 1941. More than a dozen floats will dazzle spectators on April 24 from 7-9 pm.
Fiesta de Los Reyes
A multi-day tribute to San Antonio's rich Mexican heritage, this free event happens from 10am-midnight Sunday through Friday and 10 am-1 am Saturday. Each night from April 21-30 at Market Square features a bonanza of Fiesta foods and some of the nation's most popular Tejano and Conjunto acts.
A Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA)
One of Fiesta's wildest parties, NIOSA takes over La Villita from April 25-28 to celebrate the city's diverse cultural heritage. Expect long lines and a raucous crowd — especially on Thursday's college night. And bring plenty of cash — this year, the fest did away with the wristbands.
Part political lampoon, part burlesque show, this decidedly adults-only revue takes over Charline McCombs Empire Theatre April 25-27 with two shows a night at 7 pm and 10 pm.
Taste of the Northside
Though many of Fiesta's events take place in the city's core, this foodie spectacular gives North Siders a reprieve from all those high Uber fares. The April 25 event isn't cheap but provides bites from more than 25 local restaurants and endless wine and beer samples.
Battle of Flowers Parade
The grand dame of Fiesta's parades, this vivid promenade is produced exclusively by women. Tickets are required for dedicated seating, but plenty of free vantage points are throughout the route. And if you have the day off (who can work during Fiesta?), head to Bonham Exchange afterward for their legendary day party. The parade starts at 9:30 am on April 28.
King William Fair
Nestled among the breathtaking homes of the historic King William District, this street fair includes food and drink vendors, children's activities, and artisan vendors. It's even more fun for those who live in the neighborhood. Charm your way into getting an invite to one of the front-yard parties.
Fiesta Flambeau Parade
Billed as "America's largest illuminated parade," this dazzling display On April 29 is the rowdier cousin of Battle of the Flowers. Reserved seating is available, but the smart money is to park at one of the bars on the route. Margaritas definitely help with all the hooting and hollering.
Want even more ideas of how to celebrate? Check out the full list of official events here.