San Antonio’s “party with a purpose” kicked off with a bang Thursday night, when thousands of locals and visitors gathered at Hemisfair to enjoy music, food, art, live performances, and, of course, fireworks.

A large crowd gathers at Fiesta Fiesta in Hemisfair Park.
A large crowd gathers at Fiesta Fiesta in Hemisfair Park. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Fiesta Fiesta, the official opening party for the city’s 11-day marathon of celebrations, moved from its usual location at the soon-to-be redesigned Alamo Plaza to Hemisfair and surrounding streets to accommodate the event’s growing popularity and offerings.

Attendees were decked out in their most vibrant Fiesta garb – the sound of clinking medals contributed to the musical entertainment by The Emotions and an elated crowd’s bustle. Cascarones burst left and right, sending confetti into the air and onto the ground. Vendors handed treats on sticks and in cups to ravenous and parched party goers. Dance moves of all varieties were busted out. In short, the Fiesta-spirit that San Antonians have been cultivating for 126 years was in full effect.

New this year thanks to the location swap was the children’s area at Yanaguana Garden, dedicated solely to Fiesta’s youngest participants: cast members of the Magik Theatre enthralled little ones by bringing classic storybook characters to life. Fiesta royalty in their elaborate get-ups posed for photo opps guaranteed to create lasting memories.

HeART in the Park provided an interactive, al fresco opportunity to peruse and purchase a variety of works created on-site by local artists. Adding to the artistic atmosphere, a slate of noted local poets stepped up to the microphone and shared their rhymes and ponderings with the crowd. Fiesta swag and memorabilia enthusiasts got their fix at the Fiesta Store pop-up as well as Pin Pandemonium, where collectors and vendors haggled over rare and unique pieces, all to the benefit of local nonprofits and other members of the Fiesta San Antonio Commission.

In addition the festivities at Hemisfair, the beloved Fiesta Carnival opened in the Alamodome’s parking lot, a staple in the Fiesta lineup. The carnival will be open through Saturday, April 29.

Families gather at the entrance to the carnival. Photo by Scott Ball.
Families gather at the entrance to Fiesta Carnival in 2016. Credit: Scott Ball / San Antonio Report

In the spirit of providing family-friendly food, fun, games, and rides to visitors of all abilities, the carnival will again host Fiesta Especial’s Celebration Day on Tuesday, April 25, for individuals with disabilities and their families.

If there was every any doubt about it, Fiesta Fiesta proved that San Antonians are ready to party – with a purpose.

Hanna Oberhofer

Before moving to San Antonio in 2004, Hanna was a competitive rhythmic gymnast in her native Austria. She earned degrees from St. Mary’s University and the Texas State Graduate College before joining...