Two Years In, World Heritage Festival Building Tradition

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Mission San José during the Restored by Light illumination. Photo by Scott Ball.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mission San José is digitally illuminated during the First annual World Heritage Festival's Restored by Light event.

The second annual San Antonio World Heritage Festival will commemorate the city’s historic UNESCO designation with a variety of events showcasing San Antonio’s history, culture, people, and heritage this week.

In early July 2015, the Alamo and four Spanish-colonial Missions were added to UNESCO’s list of World Heritage sites, the first in Texas and one of only 1,073 cultural treasures worldwide to receive the prestigious designation.

Two years later, the celebrations continue.

“It’s an honor to be part of a global community that celebrates the legacy of all of mankind,” said Mayor Ron Nirenberg, kicking off the festival in front of the Alamo on Wednesday morning. “As UNESCO puts it, World Heritage sites belong to all of the peoples of the world, irrespective of the territory on which they are located.

“The world is invited to San Antonio’s front porch.”

Mayor Ron Nirenberg officially starts the World Heritage Festival with a proclamation.

Scott Ball / Rivard Report

Mayor Ron Nirenberg officially opens the World Heritage Festival in front of the Alamo.

The five-day pachanga kicks off Wednesday, Sept. 6 and continues through Sunday, Sept. 10, and will feature heritage symposiums, a variety of food and drink vendors, a story exhibit, a sunset picnic, a bike ride and 5K/10K walk, a live music festival, and a celebratory Mass.

The events are free and open to the public. For a full schedule, click here.

“San Antonio is a city filled with immense history and culture, and the World Heritage Festival has something for everyone,” Councilwoman Rebecca Viagran (D3) stated in a news release. District 3 is home to Missions San José, Concepción, San Juan, and Espada. “This event is a great way to highlight our missions and the vibrant neighborhoods that surround them.”

Restored by Light, a fan favorite last year at Mission San José, will return to showcase Mission Concepción. Lights projected onto the mission’s walls will digitally restore its original facade and illuminate it with multicolored geometric patterns.

Groups committed to preserving and promoting San Antonio’s cultural fabric have combined forces and resources to organize the festival. Its proceeds will support nonprofit organizations and projects that further maintain the mission of connecting the city’s organizations and residents through cultural engagement.

“San Antonio’s World Heritage missions are a significant part of what gives our city its historical and cultural context,” Nirenberg stated. “San Antonio is a global city. I’m grateful the World Heritage Festival has become an annual event that gives our community an opportunity to celebrate our unique legacy and heritage.”

There are 23 World Heritage sites in the United States, only two of which are located in major cities. The Statue of Liberty in New York and Independence Hall in Philadelphia share the Missions’ international recognition.

“I was in Germany when UNESCO designated our Missions as a World Heritage Site,” Bexar County Judge Nelson Wolff stated. “It’s great to see an annual celebration of our accomplishments, and I encourage everyone to come out and take pride in this enriching event.”

 

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