This holiday season, Hemisfair welcomed four million visitors to Yanaguana Garden since opening in 2015. Eighty-five percent of visitors to this beloved downtown park come from every Council District in San Antonio, and 2023 is looking to be even more promising. With several new restaurant openings, new additions to Yanaguana Garden making the park ultra-family friendly, hosting some of San Antonio’s favorite events and the opening of Civic Park Phase I, Hemisfair will continue to be the place where ‘San Antonio Meets.’
Hemisfair has quickly become a foodie destination with the opening of Dough Pizzeria Napoletana, CommonWealth Coffeehouse & Bakery, The Box Street Social, and wonderful places for treats from Paleteria San Antonio, Lick Honest Ice Cream, and Re:Rooted 210. Looking towards 2023, the district is planning on welcoming four more spots: Kunstler Tap and Brat-Haus, Bombay Bicycle Club, Jerk Shack, and the newest addition by the owners of DASHI Sichuan Kitchen + Bar, Kusch Faire. Each food concept will restore and occupy a nineteenth century home, breathing new life to these historic structures.
“Hemisfair will offer diverse ethnic food choices that honor the vision of the ’68 World’s Fair, ‘Confluence of Civilizations.’ by bringing in the flavors of San Antonio that have resulted from our city’s melting pot” Andres Andujar, CEO of Hemisfair said. “It’s important for us to welcome a diverse group of tenants – because that’s who our city is.”
Creating a welcoming spot that all ages can enjoy has always been a major goal in redeveloping the Hemisfair district. Now, the littlest visitors will have a spot to call their own. Construction will begin on the Toddler Play Area in January and will be on the Bank of America Promenade near The Box Street Social. With five climbable vignettes that mimic a garden atop the squishy play surface that Hemisfair visitors already love, the area has plans to be open by spring break.
“Thanks to the generosity of individual donors in our community and major gifts from an anonymous foundation and the Jeanie Rabke Wyatt Family Foundation, the Toddler Play Area will create a new opportunity for smaller San Antonians to come and enjoy Hemisfair,” Hemisfair Conservancy Executive Director Anne Krause said. “We take ‘Hemisfair is for all’ very seriously here and this space helps us achieve that notion.”
Hemisfair will continue to play host to some of San Antonio’s most significant cultural gatherings. Kicking off the year with a bang, Celebrate SA will be the place to ring in 2023. With live music, food, and fireworks, Hemisfair is looking forward to hosting the celebration in the heart of the city. Other large events such as Muertos Fest, Diwali, and Lymphoma Leukemia Light the Night, will continue to be hosted at Hemisfair along with the weekly Story Time at Hemisfair and monthly Super Fun Saturday with H-E-B. With the opening of Civic Park in the fall, a new event footprint will lend itself to event organizers making Hemisfair one of the largest festival locations in the city.
The much-anticipated Civic Park Phase I will open in the fall of 2023. The park’s groundbreaking took place last January; San Antonio’s ‘Central Park’ will be welcoming visitors from across the globe in no time. Located along Market Street, in the same place that the west wing of the Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center was, The City of San Antonio Public Works Department contracted Skanska USA Building, Inc. to construct the $27 million voter-approved project. Civic Park Phase I encompasses five acres of public parkland, including a shaded Promenade, the Springs water features and a Great Lawn for large events for up to 15,000 people in concert mode.
Philanthropic contributions augmented public and private funding to construct Civic Park Phase I, including a seven-figure gift from the Mays Family Foundation for the Peggy Mays Gardens which will open to the public in 2023.
“Hemisfair’s Civic Park will be the next huge step in creating one of the World’s Great Public Places,” Andujar said. “It’s very rare that urban downtowns receive this significant of a park and gathering setting after the city has been well-established.”
The Parks, Recreation and Open Spaces Community Bond Committee recommended $18 million in the 2022 Municipal Bond to complete construction of Civic Park Phase II, which includes the grand Source Plaza entrance adjacent to the Torch of Friendship, and a Zocalo with a built-in terrace for community performances. Civic Park Phase II went to public bid through The City of San Antonio on Dec. 20 and is estimated to be complete in late 2024, with the NCAA Men’s Final Four celebrations taking place at Civic Park in early 2025.