One of Fiesta’s most beloved events is a four-night festival known as “A Night in Old San Antonio” or NIOSA.
This year NIOSA will celebrate its 75th anniversary and a few changes are coming — there are no more wristbands and paper tickets are back!
NIOSA is the top fundraiser for historic preservation in the U.S., living up to its motto as a “Celebration for Preservation.”
The party will take place from 5:30-10:30 p.m. nightly from Tuesday, April 25 through Friday, April 28 across four acres of historic buildings, cobblestoned streets, walls and fountains in San Antonio’s La Villita, located at 418 La Villita Street.
From 2010 to 2020, NIOSA raised more than $12 million for the Conservation Society, whose mission is to preserve historic buildings, objects, places and customs in the San Antonio area.
There will be more than 165 food, drink and vendor booths with multiple entertainment stages playing continuous live music across 14 different cultural areas.
Confirmed vendors returning this year are Mr. Chicken, Maria’s Tortillas, anticuchos, German sausage, Bongo-K-Bobs, beignets, fried mushrooms, yakitori, steer on a stick, eggrolls, gorditas and fajitas de pollo, organizers said.
New food booths for 2023 include fish and chips in Irish Flats, chicken wings in Main Street, Chili Queens chili and tamales in Haymarket, potato pancakes in Sauerkraut Bend and blarney bacon returning to Irish Flats.
Tickets for NIOSA are $20 per person. They will be $25 at the gate. Children ages 12 and younger are free when accompanied by an adult.
Here’s what’s returning to NIOSA in 2023:
*The list below was provided by NIOSA
- NIOSA 2023 will go back to its pre-COVID tradition of selling paper coupons for food, drink, and souvenirs on the grounds that can be purchased outside and inside the NIOSA gates during the event. That’s right: no wristbands!
- NIOSA only takes cash for coupons; ATM machines are available at all gates and on the grounds.
- In honor of its 75th Anniversary, the Chili Queens are back, whose origins at NIOSA date back to 1947 when Society members created replicas of the old-time chili stands that dotted Juarez Plaza.
- Advance discount entrance tickets are available now through April 28 for $20/pp at area H-E-B grocery stores; Ft. Sam Houston; Lackland AFB and Randolph AFB.
- Advance discount entrance tickets for $20 are available now through April 28 on the NIOSA website; an additional handling fee will be charged. These e-tickets from the NIOSA website can be loaded onto a phone or tablet, or printed. NIOSA leaders strongly recommend buyer prints e-ticket as back-up.
- Advance discount entrance tickets for $20 are available now through April 21 at NIOSA headquarters at 227 S. Presa, at Nueva Street, from 10 a.m. to noon and 1-3 p.m. on weekdays. No free parking is available; cash, checks or credit cards are accepted.
- Tickets can be purchased nightly during NIOSA at the gates for $25 for adults; children 12 and under are free when accompanied by an adult. Gates open at 5:30 p.m. and close at 10 p.m.; food sales and entertainment continue until 10:30 p.m.
- All tickets are non-refundable; NIOSA is open, rain or shine.
- All areas will be located within La Villita this year. Check the NIOSA website often for maps and lists of foods in each area.
- Children 12 and under are still free when accompanied by an adult. However, there will not be children’s games or face painting.
VIA Metropolitan Transit will offer Park and Ride services to NIOSA.
Now that Fiesta is celebrating 75 years of fundraising — it’s time to look back on how the festival started.
The Conservation Society held its first harvest festival in 1936. It was held every year in the fall with the exception of 1943 and 1945 because of World War II.
Originally, the festival was held under different names and with slightly different themes and locations, according to NIOSA officials.
In 1946, members of the Conservation Society asked the city of San Antonio to hold the annual event during Fiesta.
Fast forward two years later and the one-night event was held during Fiesta and went by the name we all know today — “A Night In Old San Antonio.”
By 1958 it had expanded to four nights and in 1966, the name was registered and trademarked, NIOSA officials said.