Is this your first Fiesta? Have you been in San Antonio for a while but never checked out all of the different events that make up San Antonio's annual party?

Well, it's time to get ready, so here's the insider info you'll need to have a great time!

Be sure to check out our listings of the daily highlights to determine where you want to go first to get your Fiesta on!

CLOTHING: Wear cool, bright colored clothes. Fun, sun-blocking hats are terrific. Doll them up with ribbons, Fiesta pins and whatnot. Wear sunscreen, especially at parade events. Even though you may all have cell phones, you might want to select an emergency meeting point as a good backup plan.

KIDS: Hold onto the kiddos. Crowds get crazy sometimes. Most people are courteous, but kids have a tendency to break free when you least expect it. Discuss this with children and judge carefully which Fiesta events are age-appropriate. If you love a parade, but the kids can't take a long day of it, check out the King William Fair Parade. The parade is in the morning when the weather is comfortable, and it is significantly shorter than the Battle of Flowers Parade and the Flambeau Parade. Plus the fair has an awesome children's area.

PARKING/TRANSPORTATION: Many of the Fiesta events center around the downtown area. Go to the City of San Antonio parking lot map and check out where the closest lots are located. But, parking is usually available... at a price. Consider Park-and-Ride options when they are available and note when the last bus runs. Also, consider paying for a cab or ride-sharing.

THE ROUTINE: For mega events, like the parades, think about making a reservation at a restaurant. Dine early, then saunter over to the the headline event. Afterward, stop in at Schilo's for some refreshing homemade root beer, or step into some other area eatery and chill while the city sweeper crews clean out the debris in the streets. You will like a cool, relaxing moment to collect yourself before trekking back to your car. The streets will clear out pretty quickly. It's pretty amazing. Hydrate. Just a reminder: There will always be vendors to supply you with water, or bring your own.

TICKETS: You can purchase most tickets for Fiesta events at the Fiesta Store on Broadway. Plan ahead to avoid the crowds.

ATTIRE PLUS: Do purchase whirligig hats and blinky-lighted necklaces. No, they won't last long, but it is part of the party... so engage your silly side. You will be loved for it. Another cool and practical idea is the fan/mister combo. Hydrate + stay cool=nice! You can also purchase brightly ribboned head halos from Alamo Fiesta at 2025 N. Main at Ashby, or at 710 Amols on S. Flores. Stock up on brightly colored, confetti-filled cascarones. Look for guayabarra shirts, streamers, colorful paper flower halos and masks, too. Don't forget to string some paper or plastic picado banners at home! Great fun, and low prices (limited parking, though.)

ATTITUDE: Be patient. You will get where you want to go eventually. Try to enjoy the moment and let go of the mad drive to be at the head of the pack. When you are confronted with a body of slow-moving obstacles, relax and look around. It's bad form to lose your cool at Fiesta.

MEDALS: These are virtually must-haves and it doesn't matter what kind they are. They can be intricate designs with raised or embossed lettering, or they can be hand-made with a ribbon and painted lettering. People purchase, collect and trade these trinkets. They wear them on hats, on weighty sashes, or proudly on their shirts, but they wear them. You can get them almost anywhere, including the Fiesta Commission's official Fiesta Store at 5611 Broadway or at the official kickoff event, Fiesta Fiesta at HemisFair Plaza. If you are a true Fiesta-goer, you will have a special drawer just for these medals, sporting them only during FIESTA! They are badges of honor. The more you have, the more authentic you are!

CASCARONES: These are colorfully-dyed egg shells filled with confetti. You can buy them from vendors at most Fiesta events. You can also usually purchase them at area grocery stores. For optimal fun, choose the ones with the tiniest confetti. Shake it around and get a feel for the contents. In my opinion you should avoid the painted ones, and stick to the dyed ones. The paint makes the shells harder. Of course, if you are a conscientious party animal, you will crack the egg an inch or so above the unaware recipient. Then crush the egg in your hand before spilling the contents (some like to rub it in) onto their head. Others less considerate will just smash the egg right on someone s head. (Save this technique for your closest friends or your worst enemies.) Either way, it is most effective if you take a moment to ruffle the hair a bit once the confetti has spilled out of the egg you know, to get it nice and embedded, so it lasts all day!

SPECIAL FRIDAY FIESTA HOLIDAY: Fiesta is practically an official holiday in San Antonio. Well, they can't give everyone all of Fiesta off, but generally people take off from work on the final Friday of Fiesta to attend the Battle of Flowers Parade. If you are not in the know, then you might be surprised to look up from your cubicle that day and find that you are quite alone. Even the switchboard operator has left. Don't be left answering all the phones... ask around to see what the routine is in your office. If it isn't an official day off, you may find out that many people take the day off as vacation. Find a way to get out and have fun. This is San Antonio's signature event, and you HAVE to be there!