Everything you need to know about NIOSA

The history of Fiesta’s largest non-parade event

SATX: Fiesta NIOSA preparada

Grab a preparada and Bongo K-Bob at NIOSA

Photo by @cheleres18

San Antonio’s largest party of the year, Fiesta, is only a few weeks away. Locals are understandably excited — especially for one of it’s biggest events, Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA), running Tuesday, April 23-Friday, April 26.

You’ve probably heard of NIOSA, but do you know how it got its start? This festival is one of Fiesta’s oldest and most popular events, but it’s also the largest fundraiser for historic preservation in the nation.

So, what is NIOSA?

NIOSA is a five night celebration during the second week of Fiesta featuring 14 cultural areas and 165 vendors. The festival is run by the Conservation Society of San Antonio and is its largest annual fundraiser. The goal is to spread awareness of the cultural heritage of San Antonio + Texas, and has raised over $12 million in the last 12 years.

The party is known for:

How did it start?

While technically it’s NIOSA’s 76th anniversary this year, different iterations of this Alamo City event can be traced back even further.

  • 1936 — First version (then known as the Indian Festival) kicks off at Mission San Jose in the fall
  • 1944 — Name changes from Indian Festival to River Festival
  • 1946 — Conservation Society asks the city to hold the event during Fiesta, in the spring
  • 1948 — Name changes to Night in Old San Antonio
  • 1958 — NIOSA expands from one to four nights
  • 1966 — “Night in Old San Antonio” is registered + trademarked to SACS

Why is the Conservation Society behind NIOSA?

The Conservation Society has managed this event since 1924. Its founding 13 members has expanded to 1,700+. Its purpose is to preserve San Antonio’s unique buildings + sites, and funding from NIOSA directly helps their mission. Get involved.

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