Is NIOSA crowded? Yes. Is the beer overpriced? Absolutely. Will you have to wait in long lines? Of course. These are all the things that are said about NIOSA, and everyone of them is accurate. The big difference? This is from jaded locals who have no desire to get out amongst the crowds. If you are looking to have fun, then NIOSA is for you. Here is a guide to mix it up at the Night In Old San Antonio.
Strategy For Tickets
You can stop at HEB or the Fiesta store in advance to pick up your entrance ticket. It will save you from having to wait in line and maybe even a couple of bucks. All the booths take food and drink ticket instead of cash – you have to buy these inside and you might as well start with $20/person. You’ll burn through that faster than you can down one of those little cups of beer!
Protip: As the evening comes to an end and you only have a handful that won’t be enough to get that last funnel cake, barter with the vendors for a cheaper price; works on everyone other than the beer guys.
Just in case anyone was wondering; Heb sells NIOSA tickets for $12….I know I work In business center…you’re welcome:)
— Katie Veracruz (@katie9star) April 25, 2013
Looking For A/C? Head To The German Hall The German area is the best place to cool off and one of the few places to grab a seat. There is tons of food stations inside that serve sausage-on-a-stick as well as imported German beer with hardly a wait. You can enjoy the Oom-Pah Band play polkas, and no trip to NIOSA is complete without doing the chicken dance.
Protip: Be sure to catch the cloggers dance to a modern song (I Would Walk 500 Miles is one of my favorites); if they haven’t gone on yet, while you wait stop by one of the few non-porta-potty facilities.
Randomly Bust Out A Grito The grito, or the shout, is a celebratory remembrance of Mexican Independence Day. Even though Fiesta is celebrating the independence of Texas from Mexico, it is perfectly acceptable to bust one out during the party.
Protip: The grito is best done later in the evening because people have had more beer and are more likely to join in. Learn from one of the best on how to grito in this video below.
Get To Maria’s Tortillas Early The masa staple of NIOSA handmade with love from some of the sweetest abuelitas out there are good. In fact, Maria’s Tortillas are downright delicious; however, try to get them early on in the evening when there isn’t as long of a line. The line grows longer as people drink more and more. My perspective on Maria’s Tortillas is similar to that of Magnolia Pancake House – it’s some amazing food, but you have to balance that with the amount of time it takes to wait in line (up to 30 minutes!).
Protip: If the line is outrageous but you want a tortilla, be sure to have two beers in your hand as you start your wait.
— Robin(@RobinInSA) April 25, 2013
Request A Song From Lonesome Louie
Somewhere nearby Maria’s Tortillas is an old guy who plays the blues named Lonesome Louie. Go give him a buck or two, request a song and dance. You’ve spent countless dollars on fried food this evening and it is totally worth two dollars to have a song played for you.
Protip: Don’t know what song to suggest? Try Stormy Monday or Mustang Sally (admittedly not blues, but a crowd favorite none-the-less). Note: Unfortunately Lonesome Louie didn’t make NIOSA last year and doesn’t look to return. If you never saw him, you missed out.
Crack Some Cascarones
Nothing says Fiesta like cracking confetti filled eggs on people’s heads. Regardless if your friends are adverse to confetti in their hari, crack one (or two or three) on them. The element of surprise is key, so be sure to sneak up on them, and then BAM! Cascaroned!
Protip: As you walk by the throngs of people, you’ll notice other folks cracking cascarones on their friends. One of the best things to do is surprise the stranger who just cracked a cascaron by cracking on on his head. This is a classic move.
Wear Some Type Of Hat
NIOSA is that much more fun if you go all in. Women often wear those paper flower coronas and both guys and gals wear sombreros. There is something magical about having an awesome hat at NIOSA – all your pictures suddenly look that much more amazing.
Protip: Coronas can be bought at NIOSA for roughly the same amount of money that you can buy them in the store. Sombreros, however, are pricey and are best acquired in advance. The best sombreros are “enhanced” and takes a bit of dedication and planning. However, if you want to purchase one that doesn’t look touristy, go to the Mariachi Store on West Commerce.