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10 Must See Events at the Fiesta San Antonio

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Fiesta San Antonio Texas Cavaliers River Parade
Photo courtesy of Larry Johnson

Spring is often the start of the camping season for many RVers, and what better way to kick off a new year than visiting the Fiesta San Antonio. Held annually during the month of April, it is both the largest and most beloved spring festival in the city.

About Fiesta San Antonio

The beginnings of the Fiesta San Antonio dates back to the 19th century. A man from Chicago by the name of Mr. Ballard, in 1890, decided to come up with an event to commemorate the heroes of both the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto.

In April 21, 1891, the Battle of Flowers parade was launched, which featured a mock battle with ladies hurling flowers at each other. The parade became such a success that people in the city decided to plan for another event the following year. They began to add other events along with it, so much so that in 1905, it became known as the Spring Carnival. It was only in 1960 when the festival's name was changed into the Fiesta San Antonio.

Today, this is not merely a festival held in honor of the heroes from the Battles of the Alamo and San Jacinto. Rather, it has morphed into a festival that encompasses everything that the city of San Antonio, Texas takes pride of and treasures: family, community, camaraderie, patriotism, and a rich cultural heritage.

Must See Events of the Fiesta San Antonio

The Fiesta San Antonio features over 100 different events spread over 11 days. Since many of these events are held simultaneously, it can be really difficult to decide which events to see.

On 2014, the Fiesta will be held on April 10-27. Below are 10 events held during the Fiesta in San Antonio that you should not miss:

1.  Battle of the Flowers Parade

One of the must see events during the Fiesta San Antonio is the Battle of the Flowers Parade. Held during the second Friday of the Fiesta celebrations (April 25), it is the oldest parade in the list of events and the reason why the Fiesta came into existence. The Battle of the Flowers is also reputed to be the only parade in the country produced entirely by women. Here, you can witness an array of spectacular floats, vintage cars and carriages decorated with flowers, carrying participants adorned in brightly colored costumes. The parade begins at the Alamo Plaza and makes its way around downtown San Antonio.

2.  A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada

Organized by the Asociación de Charros de San Antonio, this event gives you a chance to experience the Mexican influence in the history and culture of San Antonio. Witness the Charrería, a training exercise used to prepare horses and their riders for war. See the different riders compete in different events like horse reining, bull riding and artistic roping.

During the intermission, marvel at the Escaramuza-young women dressed in ranchera dresses performing carefully choreographed moves while riding sidesaddle. To complete the entire Mexican experience, sample some great Mexican food and drinks sold in the different kiosks during the event.

3.  Celebrations of Traditions Pow Wow

This one-day event held during the Fiesta in San Antonio celebrates the culture and traditions of the different Native American tribes that used to dominate this part of the country.

The highlight of the event is the cultural show featuring Native American dance and music performed by participants who are direct descendants of the American Indians that once dominated the land.

4.  San Jacinto Victory Celebration

Traditionally celebrated every April 21st, this one-day event is held to commemorate the Battle of San Jacinto - the decisive battle where Texas won its independence from Mexico after just 18 minutes of fighting. Listen to historians as they read out letters from the men who fought and died during the Battle of San Jacinto. Hear the actual song the soldiers sang as they marched into battle. After that, take a tour through the Alamo Shrine, the Long Barracks and the actual grounds where the famous Battle of the Alamo took place, setting the stage for the Battle of San Jacinto and Texas' independence.

5.  Texas Cavaliers River Parade

Set at the famous River Walk along the San Antonio River, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade is one of the few parades where over 40 beautifully designed floats actually float as they pass you by. Unlike most parades during the Fiesta in San Antonio, this parade is held at night. Each float is dotted with vibrantly colored lights. Accompanied by live music, this parade is a spectacular light show that you and your family will enjoy.

6.  Fiesta Oyster Bake

One of the most popular events, the Fiesta Oyster Bake was started in 1916 by a bunch of alumni from St. Mary's University. Today, it is a well-loved food event featuring oysters prepared in every way possible, from the traditional raw out of the shell to fillings in fajitas, and even as toppings for burgers. There is also an activity area for the kids and live entertainment for the grown ups. It culminates in the evening with a spectacular fireworks display.

7.  Incognito: Fiesta's Masked Ball

Ever dreamed of attending a ball just like the local legend Zorro? Well, now you can at the Incognito: Fiesta's Masked Ball. This adults-only event is great for couples coming over to take part in the festivities of the Fiesta San Antonio. Dance to the vibrant live music in your most imaginative costume, and enjoy the fantastic live show performed by the Carnaval de San Anto dancers and drummers. Don't forget your mask, of course!

8.  Mariachi Festival

What is a fiesta without a mariachi band? Set along San Antonio's River Walk, this four-day event starts when the sun goes down. Professional and amateur mariachi bands cruise along the Paseo del Rio in beautiful floats as they fill the night air with lively music.

9.  Viva Botánica!

If you're a lover of plants and flowers, Viva Botánica is an opportunity for you to browse through, and probably bring home, flora native to Texas Hill Country and lovingly grown in greenhouses by the San Antonio Botanical Society. Shopping for plants is not the only thing you can do at the Viva Botánica, though. You can dress up your kids in their best fiesta attire, decorate their strollers or wagons, join in the parade and compete for prizes like "best stroller" or "best wagon". You can also take your family for a stroll along the Texas Native Trail and explore that portion of Texas Hill Country. Viva Botánica is a fun Fiesta event for the family.

10.  Festival Flambeau Night Parade

Now on its 66th year, the Festival Flambeau Night Parade is one of the most awaited evening events of the Fiesta, garnering a street audience of 700,000 and an additional 1.5 million television viewers. The Festival Flambeau features floats, musical groups, equestrian units, the ROTC Vanguard, and various marching bands led by none other than the University of Texas Longhorn Band. This nighttime spectacle is considered to be the largest illuminated parade in the country.

RV Campgrounds in San Antonio

To complete your entire camping experience during the Fiesta San Antonio, find a San Antonio campground or RV park to stay at.

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