Hundreds of mariachi musicians convene in San Antonio for Mariachi Extravanganza concert and competition

Harlandale High School is one of a handful for local teams competing in high school division on Dec. 1

SAN ANTONIO – One thousand mariachi musicians will convene in San Antonio to compete and perform in the 29th Annual Mariachi Extravaganza competition and concert this weekend.

Harlandale High School’s mariachi group is among the nearly 50 mariachi teams who will perform during the national competitions on Friday at the Lila Cockrell Theatre.

The students have been putting the final touches on their performance, getting ready for the competition that kicks off Friday.

“It makes me, like, really nervous, especially since they’re like three high schools from San Antonio,” Efrain Alvarez 11th grader at Harlandale High School said. Efrain started playing mariachi music in the 9th grade as a guitarron player. “We want to show, like, what we can do to the rest of the Valley, you know?” he said.

“This is actually going to be our first year competing at the extravaganza,” Mariachi Director Jack Hernandez at Harlandale High School said. “We’ve competed in other events, but this one is one of the major events, probably the biggest event around that you can imagine here in the state of Texas.”

Alexandria Nieto is a 10th grader who plays the guitar in the varsity Mariachi group at Harlandale High School.

“We’ll have like three pages to memorize for the music,” Alexandria said. “It’s probably the hardest part.”

Efrain agrees that memorizing the music is hard because they’ll have to learn so many pages quickly, but he said when everyone starts playing, the nerves fade away.

“Like, once I hear all of the other instruments, I just go away. Everything goes away from me,” Efrain said.

The high school students will compete at 2 p.m. on Friday at the Lila Cockrell Theater. Wristbands to see the National Mariachi Group competitions can be purchased at the door at the Lila Cockrell Theatre. In addition to the competition, the high schools competing will have vocal and instrument workshops with members of the esteemed group Mariachi Nuevo Tecaltilán. Winners from the competition will have the honor of joining Mariachi Nuevo Tecaltilán on stage for the performance at 7:30 p.m. on Saturday at the Lila Cockrell Theatre.

“You get to be on one of the biggest stages out there, as well to be able to open for one of the largest groups, well-known groups in the world,” Hernandez said.

“I’m the first person to be a mariachi in my family, but it was always, like, the thing for us. Like, if it was somebody’s birthday or we’re celebrating a game or something where there has to be mariachis playing. So it’s just like, makes my family proud to play,” Alexandria said.

“It makes me feel good. Like I’m representing something that I love. So it just, like, puts me out there.”

There are only a handful of local high schools representing San Antonio in the competition. There are teams from all over the country like Nevada and Washington state.

Harlandale is hoping the community will support them at the performance.

One wristband allows entry into all three National competitions and can be purchased at the Lila Cockrell Theatre Box Office. Tickets for the Mariachi Extravaganza Concert can be purchased on Ticketmaster.

For more information head to

Best times to watch the national competitions:

  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 10:45 AM - Original Songwriting Competition
  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 2:00 PM - National Mariachi Group Competition - Middle School
  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 4:00 PM - National Mariachi Group Competition - High School
  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 8:30 PM - National Mariachi Group Competition - College/University
  • Sat., Dec. 2 @ 9:00 AM - National Mariachi Vocal Competition
  • Sat., Dec. 2 @ 2:00 PM - National High School Finals
  • Sat., Dec. 2 @ 7:30 PM - Mariachi Extravaganza Concert features competition winners, Jonathan Palomar and Mariachi Nuevo Tecalitlán

Times for announcements of the national competition winners:

  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 11:30 AM - Announcement of Original Songwriting Competition Winners
  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 3:40 PM - Announcement of National Mariachi Group Competition - Middle School Category
  • Fri., Dec. 1 @ 9:20 PM - Announcement of National Mariachi Group Competition - College/University Category and Announcement of High School Finalists (Top Six in the Nation)
  • Sat., Dec. 2 @ 1:40 PM - Announcement of National Mariachi Vocal Competition Winners
  • Sat., Dec. 2 @ 3:45 PM - Announcement of National High School Group Competition Winners

About the Authors:

Sarah Acosta is a weekend Good Morning San Antonio anchor and a general assignments reporter at KSAT12. She joined the news team in April 2018 as a morning reporter for GMSA and is a native South Texan.

Azian Bermea is a photojournalist at KSAT.