To complete its year of Tricentennial celebrations, San Antonio will shift from a focus on its Canary Islander and Spanish origins to its Mexican history.

The Mexican Cultural Institute will lead a collaborative efforts to celebrate Diez y Seis, or Mexican Independence Day, on Sept. 15-16, along with a traditional El Grito celebration to honor Mexico’s founding father Don Miguel Hidalgo.

The Institute will “bring together all the stakeholders that want to be part of this one celebration, to make sure everyone feels comfortable in joining together,” said Ambassador Reyna Torres Mendívil of the Consulate General of Mexico, while presenting Aug. 8 to the Tricentennial Commission.

On Sept. 5, the City announced a grand two-day celebration combining the Dieciseis de Septiembre Parade, El Grito San Antonio, and Fiestas Patrias (Patriotic Holidays) at Market Square, through the Sept. 15-16 weekend.

The parade will follow its traditional route beginning on Guadalupe Street and concluding at Market Square. Proceeds from events will fund 10-15 $1,000 scholarships for the LULAC scholarship fund, Mendívil said.

Nearly 30 other official events, running through October, will continue the celebrations. Events include an Independence-themed Charreada on Sept. 16, a special El Rincón del Alebrije Mariachi Lab at the Pearl also on Sept. 16, and Viva Mi Cultura with the Guadalupe Dance Company, Oct. 3 and 10. A complete list of events, with detailed time and location information, is available as a downloadable PDF here.

After Mexican Independence celebrations are over, the Tricentennial Commission – having largely completed its work as an events programming organization – will move into a role of marketing and sponsorship support for the fall season, helping to attract wide audiences and expand programming for several events.


Though hundreds of Tricentennial partner events remain on the schedule, a few stand out as major opportunities to see the city and its potential for the future in a new light.

The 11th annual Luminaria Contemporary Arts Festival will move from Friday to a Saturday and Sunday schedule on Nov. 10-11, and will expand its footprint from Hemisfair to include Mission San José.

During the Aug. 8 commission meeting, Luminaria Executive Director Kathy Armstrong said she sees the festival as a finale for the Tricentennial year.

For the first time, Armstrong said, “Luminaria asked our artists to consider the Tricentennial, to consider the city, the history, and the land. All these artists are thinking deeply about San Antonio and what it means to them.”

The festival will end Sunday night with special performances on the grounds of Mission San José, which will include indigenous, Spanish, and European music, as well as the Agarita ensemble.

(From left) Chris Stokes, Olivia Youngblood, and Stephanie Marquez make shadow puppets in front of a light display at Luminaria.
(From left) Chris Stokes, Olivia Youngblood, and Stephanie Marquez make shadow puppets in front of a light display at Luminaria in 2017. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report
City Fest

That same weekend will see the inaugural City Fest, sponsored by the Rivard Report along with local partners including the Tricentennial Commission, Southwest School of Art, and others.

Presenting to the commission, Rivard Report Publisher and Editor Robert Rivard called City Fest an “ideas festival” in line with similar events in Austin, Aspen, and other forward-looking cities.

With discussions and talks by thought leaders focused on urbanism, Rivard said the festival will serve as a capstone to the City’s 300th anniversary.

“2018 is history, where do we go from here?” he asked, and said City Fest will “put an exclamation point on the Tricentennial later in the year.

“We really do need to leverage this year we’ve had; there won’t be another one like it for quite some time,” Rivard said.

A focus on upcoming legislative battles over local and state control, school finance reform, and alternative transportation, will ask San Antonio “what are we doing to really propel us forward, to really accelerate the progress we’ve made over the last decade?” he said.

Luminaria and City Fest “will bring a lasting legacy to the community, giving residents an opportunity to engage on City specific issues,” said Laura Mayes, Tricentennial public relations manager.

Serve300, Military City, World Heritage

Other main focuses of the Tricentennial Commission itself will be its community service initiatives, honoring the military, San Antonio’s World Heritage status, and football.

On Aug. 25, the University of Texas at San Antonio’s Football Fan Day invites incoming freshmen to the Alamodome to celebrate football tradition with a free scrimmage.

The Sept. 6-8 World Heritage Festival features a sunset picnic and “Restored by Light” events at Missions Concepción and San José. A special Oct. 12 Restored by Light Reinspired” event will invite artist Louis Vega Treviño to interpret a design for the Mission San Juan façade.

Mission Concepción is lit up to recreate the facade’s original designs during Restored By Light.
Projections onto Mission Concepción recreate the facade’s original designs during the Restored By Light event in 2017. Credit: Bonnie Arbittier / San Antonio Report

Military balls will be held Sept. 28 to honor the Air Force, Oct. 13 to honor the Navy, and Nov. 10-11 to celebrate the Marine Corps, Veterans Day, and the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

The last of four Serve 300 events will take place on Oct. 13, this time focused on sustainability and the environment and completing its Tree-centennial initiative to plant 300 trees throughout Bexar County.

Over the course of the year, Serve 300 has included 6,400 volunteers in various events, contributing more than 17,000 hours of community service for 45 community agencies, Mayes said.

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Nicholas Frank

Senior Reporter Nicholas Frank moved from Milwaukee to San Antonio following a 2017 Artpace residency. Prior to that he taught college fine arts, curated a university contemporary art program, toured with...