Travel: Fiesta Week in San Antonio, TX – NIOSA 2013

I’m a Texas gal, I grew up in San Antonio. Growing up, one of my favorite times of the year was Fiesta Week! Fiesta Week is a 10-day celebration featuring some 100 events that include music, food, sports, pageantry, military and patriotic observances, exhibits, and parades. Nonprofit organizations sponsor every activity. Fiesta® San Antonio started in 1891 as a one-parade event, and takes place every April. It’s evolved into one of our nation’s premier festivals, with an economic impact of more than $284 million for the Alamo City. Over 75,000 volunteers help make Fiesta Week a success. Some 3.5 million party-goers enjoy Fiesta® San Antonio. More than 20 percent of Fiesta-goers travel from across the state, the nation, and even the world! (Like me!)


One of my favorite Fiesta events, is NIOSA. Since I no longer live in TX, and it’d been four years since I attended Fiesta Week, I decided to hop on a plane & fly to Texas to enjoy NIOSA!


A Night in Old San Antonio, better known as NIOSA, joined Fiesta in 1948. It’s a 4-day event. The San Antonio Conservation Society sponsors NIOSA. The society works to save San Antonio buildings and maintain the city’s cultural heritage. It takes about 16,000 volunteers each year to stage NIOSA.  What’s NIOSA all about? Culture, food, music & art! It’s a blast! The historic, downtown village of La Villita, takes center stage as 85,000 visitors come through the gates during NIOSA. Fifteen unique cultural areas are represented at A Night In Old San Antonio. Each offers the sights, sounds and tastes of the national heritage early immigrants brought to the city, as they settled the wild Texas frontier. Y’all know me, I was there for the FOOD! Shall we?! SONY DSC In San Antonio, it’s not a Fiesta (party) without Cascarones! For those not familiar with them, cascarones are hollowed out eggs, that have been cleaned, dried, & filled with confetti! Decorated, confetti-filled cascarones are gently cracked over the recipient’s head to shower him or her with confetti. It’s a lot of fun! SONY DSC  The NIOSA grounds are very large, and cover several blocks. Each area is mapped off & devoted to a certain culture. You’ve got China Town, French Quarter, Irish Flat & Mexican Market, to name a few. SONY DSC Each booth has volunteers cooking up delicious delicacies for you to eat. The lines can get long, like the one above for Maria’s Tortillas! The seven ladies you see under the orange umbrellas are making tortillas by hand. This booth is always a favorite with fiesta attendees. Right next to Maria’s Tortillas, was a Tejano band that was performing for the crowd. I got a little snippet of them captured on video for you:

Not bad, huh?! Right next door to the Tejano band, was one of my favorites, the Gordita stand! Gorditas are very thick corn tortillas that you can slice open & stuff with beans, meat, lettuce, etc. My mom used to make the best ones ever! We’d slice them open and add butter. Once the butter melted, I’d eat it up in no time flat. SONY DSC SONY DSC I must say, I was disappointed in the Gordita I got. The tortilla itself was not thick enough & there was NO MEAT! It was filled with a very thin layer of refried beans, lettuce, tomato & cheese. Thankfully, the line was not too long, so I didn’t waste too much time waiting for this disappointing morsel. Time to move on! One of the things I love about NIOSA, and Fiesta Week in general, is all the bright colors! Here are a few souvenirs that were for sale, I should’ve bought one of those dolls! SONY DSC Time for more food! This chicken smelled divine, and I had to stick my camera through the fence to snap a pic! SONY DSC The NIOSA gates open up at 5:30PM, and I like to be there when they open… you’ll see why later! I don’t know if the lady below was planning to eat all those Bongo-Ka-Bobs (beef shish-ka-bobs named after a local musician) by herself, or if she was going to share them; but they sure looked good! SONY DSC

Even though it was a cloudy/rainy day; that didn’t stop anyone from attending NIOSA. After  I’d been there for about an hour, the crowd was starting to get pretty thick.SONY DSC I like to leave before the crowds get too bad. When I saw more folks coming in the front gate, I knew I had to put some pep in my step and hit up all the booths I love pronto! First on my list, the Smoothie Booth! SONY DSC SONY DSC Everywhere you look at NIOSA, there’s food, music and people having fun, like these folks! SONY DSC SONY DSC In case you’re wondering what they were groovin’ to, here it is: Another thing I love about Fiesta Week, is the hats! These aren’t your everyday, run-of-the-mill hats, oh no – these are one-of-a -kind works of art! Take a look at a couple that really stood out from the crowd: SONY DSC SONY DSC Aren’t those amazing?! Fiesta is all about having a great time & forgetting your troubles for a full 10 days! Just a couple more stops to make for a few more of my favorite NIOSA nom-noms! Brownie Bites, anyone?!SONY DSCFunnel Cake & Big Red? No place but San Antonio!  SONY DSCAs I finished off the funnel cake, I took a look around and this is what I saw:SONY DSC

I knew it was time to make my last purchase of the evening, Chicken Tacos to go, please!  SONY DSC SONY DSC Don’t forget the napkins! SONY DSC I highly recommend everyone attend NIOSA (and Fiesta Week) at least once in their lifetime! I like to compare it to Mardi Gras, but without the beads… if ‘ya know what I mean!

I hope you have enjoyed my little NIOSA recap-there’s no way I could have captured everything though-there’s just too much! Lots more food and fun that I did not photograph, but I hope you get the idea. For more info on NIOSA and Fiesta Week, go to the official Fiesta San Antonio website.

Until we meet again, NIOSA, until we meet again!

Disclosure-this is NOT a sponsored post, I was NOT paid to write it. I Love my Texas, San Antonio & Fiesta Week & wanted to share it with my readers!