A beloved San Antonio tradition with a rich, bedazzled history, Fiesta sprang from 1891’s inaugural Battle of Flowers Parade — an eccentric procession in which participants pelted one another with flowers in tribute to “the fallen heroes of the Alamo and Battle of San Jacinto.” As the Battle of Flowers evolved into an elaborate, televised spectacle that’s proudly produced entirely by women, the festival it inspired expanded into an 11-day celebration featuring multiple parades, the crowning of Fiesta royalty and dozens of community events that raise funds for local scholarships and vital nonprofits.
Due to its economic impact and the massive crowds it draws to downtown San Antonio, Fiesta occasionally gets compared to South by Southwest — but it has much more in common with the boozy regalia of Mardi Gras. And while Mardi Gras has its beads, Fiesta has its medals. Based on collectible coins distributed by the Texas Cavaliers and their elected King Antonio as far back as 1946, wearable Fiesta medals joined the party in 1971 and are now must-have souvenirs that get sold at events and swapped at parties.
Alexander Marchant has celebrated this distinctly San Antonio tradition since the opening of our Olmos Park showroom in 2015 — complete with custom Fiesta medals. Designed and produced by graphic artist Will Templin (proprietor of King William Design and Alamo Medals), our latest medal takes stylistic cues from the elegant door knockers Bronzes de France crafts from historical designs preserved from 19th-century palaces and chateaux.
Originally intended for the 2020 celebration — now tellingly dubbed “The Fiesta That Never Happened” — these blingy keepsakes are currently up for grabs in our Olmos Park showroom (4335 McCullough Ave.) and ready to be shown off during Fiesta 2021 (which was moved from April to June due to safety protocols). Although certain Fiesta signatures won’t return until April 2022 — the Battle of Flowers Parade, the Fiesta Flambeau Parade and King William Fair among them — there are still plenty of ways to celebrate and support Fiesta this summer. Check out our event recommendations below and visit fiestasanantonio.org for a complete schedule of events.
A Day in Old Mexico & Charreada
The national sport of Mexico, charrería (often described as Mexican rodeo) comes to light at this Fiesta outing hosted by the Asociación de Charros de San Antonio. Of the 10 official suertes (competitive roping and riding events performed in period costumes), the all-female escaramuza is the hands-down fan favorite. $20, 3-5pm Sunday, June 20 & 3-5pm Sunday, June 27, Charro Ranch, 6126 Padre Dr., sacharros.org.
The Texas Cavaliers River Parade
Active since 1926, the sharply dressed Texas Cavaliers return to the San Antonio River Walk with their signature parade of decorated barges. Presided over by King Antonio XCVIII Phillip Peacock Bakke, this year’s event benefits Will Smith Zoo School, a nature-based preschool on the grounds of the San Antonio Zoo. $14-$26, 7-9pm Monday, June 21, San Antonio River Walk, texascavaliers.org.
NIOSA (A Night in Old San Antonio)
The San Antonio Conservation Society’s Fiesta institution takes over historic La Villita with eclectic live music on nine outdoor stages and more than 150 food and drink booths divided into 14 themed cultural areas — from Mexican Market to Sauerkraut Bend. $20, 5:30-10:30pm Tuesday, June 22 – Friday, June 25, La Villita, 418 Villita St., niosa.org.
The oldest active singing society in Texas, Beethoven Maennerchor celebrates the Lone Star State’s German heritage with three festive evenings filled with German cuisine, free-flowing beer, appearances by Fiesta royalty and performances by the 50-piece Beethoven Concert Band and the Beethoven Big Band along with German choirs and dance groups. $8-$10, 5pm-midnight Wednesday, June 23 – Friday, June 25, Beethoven Halle and Garden, 422 Pereida St., southtownbeethoven.com.
“Te Amo, Fiesta”
Beyond the bluebonnet paintings and dinosaur bones, the Witte Museum preserves and showcases Coronation gowns — elaborately beaded (and incredibly heavy) creations worn during Fiesta’s opulent Coronation of the Queen of the Order of the Alamo. Promising to be one of Fiesta’s coolest (read air-conditioned) events, the museum’s new exhibition “Te Amo, Fiesta” features garments worn by all nine Fiesta royals: the Queen of the Order of the Alamo, King Antonio, Charro Queen, Queen of Soul, Rey Feo, La Reina de la Feria de las Flores, Miss Fiesta San Antonio, Fiesta Teenage Queen and Miss San Antonio. $10-$14, 10am-5pm Monday, 10am-7pm Tuesday, 10am-5pm Wednesday-Saturday, noon-5pm Sunday (on view through August 1), Witte Museum, 3801 Broadway, (210) 357-1900, wittemuseum.org.