Some of the biggest in-person events that happened in the San Antonio area this year

One of the greatest celebrations in SA made a return this year -- Fiesta!

(Top left): Runners at the Rock 'n' Roll marathon series in downtown SA. (Top right): Couple attending the Día de Los Muertos Festival (Courtesy of Francisco Cortes) (Bottom left): Man taking part in Fiesta festivities. (Bottom right): Group celebrating Wurstfest in New Braunfels. (Courtesy of Wurstfest New Braunfels) (KSAT)

SAN ANTONIORead more stories wrapping 2021 here.

Although we are nearing the end of year two of the COVID-19 pandemic, it looked quite a bit different compared to last year.

With vaccines and more treatments available to help combat the coronavirus, many U.S. cities were able to have a slow return to normalcy, including San Antonio.

This allowed for one of the greatest celebrations in the city to officially return in-person -- Fiesta! And, let’s not forget other happenings, including the Day of the Dead River Parade, Luminaria at Hemisfair, Diwali Festival, and much more.

Here’s a recap of the in-person events that returned to the Alamo City this year:

Viva la Fiesta!

Fiesta Fiesta 2021 (Andrew Wilson and Raven Jordan for KSAT)

The biggest celebration in all of San Antonio officially made its grand return this year after being canceled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, though it was in a reduced but still enjoyable capacity.

Fiesta went from June 17-27 as medals, crazy hats, beer, signature food and live music filled the air.

Although the number of Fiesta events was cut down to around 50, which is considerably lower than the typical 115, many near and far were still eager to attend.

Some of this year’s biggest events during Fiesta included NIOSA, the Texas Cavaliers River Parade, the Fiesta Porch Parade, and much more. You can relive all of your favorite Fiesta moments here.

Día de los Muertos

Muertos Fest San Antonio (Muertos Fest)

It’s a long-held tradition that’s celebrated throughout Mexico and right here in San Antonio -- Día de los Muertos. And this year, many were able to honor their deceased loved ones with in-person celebrations.

Although Día de los Muertos was Monday, Nov. 1-2, some events in SA took place just before.

Muertos Fest celebrated its ninth year on Oct. 23- 24 at Hemisfair. The “expanded” festival featured community altars, live music, art, workshops and was free and family-friendly.

On Friday, Oct. 29, the San Antonio Day of the Dead River Parade was held as many witnessed colorful and handmade art on barges in the River Walk. The parade was virtual in 2020 due to the pandemic.

You can re-watch the parade, or see our recap of Muertos Fest here.

Luminaria and Diwali Festivals at Hemisfair

Crowds of people filled the Hemisfair to celebrate the 13th annual Diwali SA Festival of Light. (KSAT)

Hemisfair started coming back to life and hosted many in-person events this year, although in a reduced capacity.

Starting off the month of November, the park held the Diwali “Festival of Lights” as a multitude of sounds and lights filled the night air.

The festival celebrates Indian culture and traditions by featuring traditional Indian dance, more live entertainment, food and booths that sell goods from various parts of India.

Diwali is akin to New Year’s Eve and represents the triumph of good over evil, light over darkness and knowledge over ignorance.

The annual celebration is held every year on the first Saturday of November. You can re-live the fun moments of Diwali Fest by clicking here.

Luminaria Festival in downtown San Antonio. (Charles Cima/Flickr Creative Commons)

The next weekend, Luminaria returned to Hemisfair on Nov. 13 with three stages for music, film, and fine art throughout the park grounds, the areas of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center and the San Antonio River Walk.

The event also featured more than 45 Texas artists and groups for live performances.

From fine art to theatre, film, performance art, music and much more, there was plenty for all ages to enjoy at this year’s event.

For a recap of this year’s performers, or to learn more, click here.

Wurstfest in New Braunfels

Wurstfest New Braunfels (Wurstfest New Braunfels)

Bring out the sausage and beer because Wurstfest was here for its 60th year!

The 10-day celebration was held Nov. 5-14 in New Braunfels, but similar to other in-person events, it also had a reduced capacity due to the pandemic. Last year’s event was canceled.

This was also the first year Wurstfest took place after a devastating fire in 2019 destroyed the iconic Marktplatz building, where the event was previously held.

Many were able to celebrate the city’s German heritage, attracting many near and far from across the state and beyond.

If you weren’t able to attend this year’s Wurstfest, or if you want a recap, click here.

Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon

Runners warming up at the starting line.

One of the biggest fitness events of the year came to downtown San Antonio in December-- the 2021 Humana Rock ‘n’ Roll running series.

More than 18,000 runners from the Alamo City and across the country took to the streets through the Pearl and Brackenridge Park areas to the East Side before crossing the finish line near Hemisfair.

The theme of this year’s race was “Fiesta in December.”

Colin Marz, 27, of San Antonio took the win in the men’s group and Ildi Gaal, 30, of Raleigh, took the win for the women for the full marathon.

For the half marathon, Andrea Pomaranski, 39, of Wolverine Lake, and Jose Santana Marin, 32, of Miguel Hidalgo took the top spots.

You can see the full list of winners or see what this year’s races entailed by clicking here.

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About the Author:

Cody King is a digital journalist for KSAT 12. She previously worked for WICS/WRSP 20 in Springfield, Illinois.