San Antonio is the home of several performance companies, a symphonic orchestra, a continuous flow of road shows, and recurring performances by local talent. Much of what San Antonio has to offer has a strong Latin influence, which lends spice to some of the best local nightlife. San Antonio is America's capital for Tejano music, a unique blend of German polka and northern Mexico ranchero sounds. You shouldn't miss the Ballet Folklórico, a colorful dance troupe with Mexican roots.
Keep in mind, too, that the Fiesta City throws big public parties year-round: Fiestas Navideñas and Las Posadas around Christmastime, Fiesta San Antonio and Cinco de Mayo events in spring, the Texas Folklife Festival in summer, and Oktoberfest and the International Accordion Festival in autumn.
For the most complete listings of what's on while you're visiting, pick up a free copy of the weekly alternative newspaper, the Current, or the Friday "Weekender" section of the San Antonio Express-News. You can also check out the website of San Antonio Arts & Cultural Affairs: www.sanantonio.gov/art. There's no central office in town for tickets, discounted or otherwise. You'll need to reserve seats directly through the theaters or clubs, or, for large events, through Ticketmaster (tel. 210/224-9600; www.ticketmaster.com). Generally, box office hours are Monday to Friday 10am to 5pm, and 1 to 2 hours before performance time. The Majestic and Empire also have hours on Saturday from 10am to 3pm.
The Bar Scene
Most bars close at 2am, although some alternative spots stay open until 3 or 4am. Some of the hottest bars in town are also in restaurants like Acenar and Azuca.
The alternative cinemas in San Antonio are not in the most trafficked tourist areas, but if you're willing to go out of your way for an indie fix you can get one at the Regal Fiesta Stadium 16, 12631 Vance Jackson (tel. 210/641-6906). The city also boasts a cinema that not only screens offbeat films, but also allows you to munch on more than popcorn and licorice while viewing them. An Austin import (its name notwithstanding), the Alamo Drafthouse Westlakes, 1255 SW Loop 410 (tel. 210/677-8500; www.originalalamo.com), shows mostly first-run films but accompanies them with seat-side food service.
The Guadalupe Cultural Arts Center and the McNay and Witte museums often have interesting film series; and the Esperanza Center, 922 San Pedro (tel. 210/228-0201; www.esperanzacenter.org), usually offers an annual gay and lesbian cinema festival. In addition to Alamo, the Price of Freedom, the San Antonio IMAX Theater Rivercenter, 217 Alamo Plaza (tel. 210/225-4629; www.imax-sa.com), shows such high-action films as Spider-Man or Into the Deep suited to the big, big screen.
Mission Accomplished -- When it premièred in 1947, the screen of the Mission Drive-In, 3100 Roosevelt Ave. (tel. 210/532-3259 or 496-2221), was framed with a neon outline of nearby Mission San Jose, replete with moving bell, burro, and cacti. San Antonio's last remaining open-air movie house, refurbished and reopened in 2001, now has four screens and features first-run films. It's as much fun to come here for a family film fest or romantic under-the-stars evening as it ever was.