After challenges posed by the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, people celebrating the 2023 edition of Fiesta San Antonio will see a full return of familiar events and a handful of new festivities.

Fiesta San Antonio officially takes place April 20-30, featuring more than 100 sanctioned activities, which benefit dozens of local nonprofits and charity causes.

According to Steve Rosenauer, Fiesta San Antonio executive director, more than 2.5 million people were estimated to have attended Fiesta happenings in 2022.

“It’s good to see all of our participating member organizations moving forward with their events this year,” Rosenauer said. “I think with the challenges due to COVID-19, people emerged from that really looking forward to a whole Fiesta experience.”

Rosenauer said he feels many partygoers attending a full Fiesta schedule in 2022 and an abbreviated event slate in 2021 were confident in the safety precautions assembled by event organizers.

“I think a lot of the organizations stepped up their game in terms of making sure hand sanitizer was available at different events, emphasizing hand-washing and ensuring their volunteers are taking extra precautions,” Rosenauer said. “I think the pandemic really taught all of us about cleanliness and taking it seriously as part of the overall risk safety and security plan.”

Rosenauer said celebrants may look forward to multiple new events, including Central Catholic High School’s Fiesta Fandango and Lotería para Líderes (Lotteria for Leaders), which directly benefits the West Side Girl Scout Leadership Center.

“Things are trending up for both of them,” Rosenauer said of the two new events.

Other new Fiesta activities include the All-American Canteen, slated for 7-11 p.m. April 22 at the Aggie Park Event Center, 6205 West Ave. in Castle Hills.

The Foundation for San Antonio Military History is putting on this 1940s-themed event complete with big-band music, dinner, an ice cream social and dancing.

Attendees are encouraged to dress accordingly for the evening. Admission is $100 per person.

Travel agent and FSAMH member Pris Trawick said her organization has organized the All-American Canteen for more than 20 years, but this is the first time it is an officially sanctioned Fiesta event.

“We are reintroducing ourselves after COVID[-19],” Trawick said.

Trawick said the All-American Canteen is like a tribute to the U.S. military, but it is open to everyone—civilians, active-duty personnel and veterans alike.

“It’s really for people who just want to swing out and dance,” she said.

Elsewhere, popular events, such as Fiesta Castle Hills and Taste of the Northside are returning, albeit the latter taking place at a new venue.

Fiesta Castle Hills, scheduled for 10 a.m.-5 p.m. April 22, kicks off per usual with a mini-parade beginning and ending near Castle Hills City Hall, 209 Lemonwood Drive.

The parade is followed by a community fair featuring food trucks, children’s activities, arts and crafts, vendors, a petting zoo, and music. Admission is free for all.

Norma McClelland, treasurer with event organizer Castle Hills Community Organization, said somewhere between 2,000 and 2,500 people attended the 2022 Fiesta Castle Hills, an event she said has been growing in popularity in recent years.

“People want to go to Fiesta, but some don’t want to go to downtown and pay for parking or entry. But we have no entry fee or paid parking, so we’ve had no complaints,” McClelland said.

The CHCO seeks to donate a portion of Fiesta Castle Hills to a local nonprofit or cause each year, and this year, Special Olympics Texas will be the beneficiary, McClelland said.

According to McClelland, a Special Olympics Texas coach lives in Castle Hills and suggested his organization could benefit from this year’s Fiesta Castle Hills.

“We always look for someone who can truly benefit from our event,” she said.

Local nonprofit Brighton Center, which helps youngsters with disabilities and developmental delays, will have its 22nd Taste of the Northside from 6:30-11:30 p.m. April 25 at the SSFCU Event Center, 15000 W. I-10, San Antonio.

Visitors may enjoy bites from more than 25 local restaurants, and sample varieties of wines and spirits, mainly from Texas beverage producers.

Previous editions of Taste of the Northside have attracted thousands of partygoers at places, such as the Club at Sonterra.

But Sara Pfeifer, Brighton Center chief development officer, said the SSFCU Event Center provides more flexible indoor and outdoor space for guests and vendors.

Plus, the event features all-inclusive VIP unlimited pricing, on-site parking and a Fiesta medal for all ticketed guests. Admission begins at $300 per person.

“The advantages here are that we get to control and elevate the overall experience for everyone,” Pfeifer said.