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Celebrating Houston: The Ultimate Guide to the City’s Best Festivals

Celebrating Houston The Ultimate Guide to the City's Best Festivals

From cultural celebrations that transport you to far-off lands to lively parades that ignite the streets with energy, Houston’s festival scene is an absolute feast for the senses. 

Whether you’re a foodie craving culinary delights, a music lover yearning for toe-tapping beats, or an art enthusiast seeking awe-inspiring creations, this list will have something for you.

So grab your festival gear and get ready to dive headfirst into the heart and soul of Houston’s lively festival culture. 

Art Car Festival and Parade

Art Car Festival and Parade
Image Source: Orange Show Center for Visionary Art Website


Address: Downtown Houston

Date: April

The Art Car Festival and Parade is a thrilling celebration that Houstonians eagerly anticipate every year. The festival is filled with some of the most creatively decorated vehicles you can imagine. 

From cars covered in dazzling colors and designs to bicycles, motorcycles, and even roller-skaters, every form of transportation becomes a canvas for artistic expression. 

The parade kicks off at Taft at Allen Parkway and winds its way through downtown Houston to Bagby. The event is the biggest car show parade in the world with over 250 entries and an audience of 300,000 people. 

Pro Tip:

Most of the cars aren’t just pimped out visually, but some, especially the lowriders, pack some serious noise in their stereos or exhausts . So, if you’re bringing the kids, you might want to not stand along the front rows or bring some earplugs for the little ones!

Bayou City Art Festival


Address: 7026 Old Katy Rd Suite 281, Houston, TX 77024, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-521-0133

Date: March 

The Bayou City Art Festival takes place once in spring and once more in fall. Featuring over 300 artists across 19 different categories, this event is a must-visit for art enthusiasts and creative souls. 

Here, you can stroll through an outdoor gallery, where you’ll encounter a diverse range of artists showcasing their talent across various mediums. 

From musicians filling the air with tunes while dancers perform to the rhythm to one-of-a-kind pieces of art. There’s also loads of food trucks and vendors available for some snacks. 

Pro Tip:

To keep the festival safe and in order, you can’t walk into the event on the day itself, so make sure you book your tickets in advance through their website



Address:  2005 Lake Robbins Dr, The Woodlands, TX 77380, United States

Phone Number: +1 281-364-3010

Date: March and October

Buzzfest, a music festival in Houston that features iconic acts in rock and alternative music is a bi-annual event that many locals and visitors attend. The entire day is spent with punk, pop, grunge, and other similar genres of music. 

The festival is always held at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, hosted by local radio station 94.5. Buzzfest showcases both established and emerging artists in the rock music industry. 

The event makes use of the main stage where the big acts are held, but don’t miss out on the performances on the side stage where you can discover new artists. 

Pro Tip:

They’re pretty strict about bag sizes so make sure you follow protocol by bringing bags no bigger than 4.5″ x 6.5″ or clear bags smaller than 12″ x 12″.

H-E-B Children’s Festival


Address: Downtown Houston

Phone Number: +1 713-522-9723

Date: April

The H-E-B Houston Children’s Festival is an annual kids event in the city that promises a day filled with laughter, music, and endless activities for the whole family to enjoy. 

As you explore the festival grounds, you’ll discover six stages hosting a variety of live entertainment, from music to interactive performances that will keep you entertained throughout the day. 

With over 350 exciting activities, there’s something for everyone, from crafts and exhibits to interactive games and sports that the little ones can enjoy.

Pro Tip:

The location of the festival is different each year, so it’s best to keep posted through their website to know the latest announcements, including the line-up of performers! 

Houston Caribbean Festival


Address: Houston Caribbean Festival

Phone Number: +1 713-776-2633

Date: July 

This annual celebration of authentic Caribbean music, food, and diverse cultures is one of our personal favorites in Houston. 

The festival starts with a Mas parade where the streets come alive with reggae, soca, and calypso music played by bands decked out in masquerade outfits. 

After the parade, the festivities continue at the Caribbean festival itself, where you’ll be treated to a wide array of authentic Caribbean cuisine and unique crafts, artwork, and cultural treasures from the Caribbean. 

Pro Tip:

If you want to join in during the parade, you can get in contact with any of the bands you want, buy their costumes, and dance with them. You can’t just decide to jump into the parade impromptu. 

Houston Children’s Festival


Address: 901 Bagby Street, Houston, Texas 77002, United States

Date: March

Every year, the Houston Children’s Festival is designed specifically with kids in mind, offering an array of circus acts, children’s films, and educational workshops that will keep the little ones entertained for hours. 

From live trapeze acts to animal encounters, the festival is packed with thrilling activities for kids and those kids at heart. 

Originally created to raise awareness about child abuse, the festival has evolved into a joyful celebration of childhood, providing a world of interactive fun that kids will absolutely love. 

Pro Tip:

Don’t forget to sign up for the art and painting contests at the event so your budding little artists can showcase their creativity and talent, plus the winner usually gets snacks or some toys as a prize! 

Houston Dragon Boat Festival


Address: Buffalo Bayou

Phone Number: +1 832-816-3306

Date: May 

During the Houston Dragon Boat Festival, around 20 teams paddle their way down Buffalo Bayou in the decorated dragon boats for first place. 

This annual event brings together more than 20 corporate and community teams, each vying for victory. 

Along with the intense races, the festival offers a celebration of Asian and Asian-American culture, complete with live entertainment, stunning views of downtown Houston, and an abundance of food vendors to satisfy your cravings.

Pro Tip:

If you want to really enjoy watching the entire race, make sure you bring both binoculars and shades, so you can see the boats reaching the finish line clearly and without glare from the sun reflecting off of the water. 

Houston Pride Festival 


Address: Downtown Houston

Phone Number: +1 713-529-6979

Date: June

Diversity is championed and inclusivity celebrated during the annual Houston Pride celebrations! You’ll witness a colorful and lively parade, live entertainment, food, and a variety of vendor stalls offering unique and diverse goods. 

The festival not only commemorates the legalization of gay marriage but also serves as a platform to raise awareness and fight against prejudice and discrimination. 

There are musical performances, educational workshops, exhibits showcasing LGBTQ+ history, and an array of arts and crafts that reflect the unity and diversity within the community. 

Pro Tip:

The parade can get pretty intense especially in the Houston heat and packed crowds, so make sure you wear light and breathable (and rainbow-colored) fabric and bring water and fans, probably an extra outfit to change into!

Houston International Film Festival


Address: 9898 Bissonnet St #650, Houston, TX 77256, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-965-9955

Date: April

For movie fanatics like us, the Houston International Film Festival provides a cinematic experience like no other by showcasing an impressive selection of independent films across various genres.

This renowned event has become a staple in the city’s cultural scene. As one of the longest-running indie film festivals in Houston, it attracts thousands of submissions from talented filmmakers worldwide. 

Pro Tip:

If you’re more than just a film lover and actually enjoy creating them yourself, you might want to consider submitting an entry to the festival. They have an extensive category list including shorts, features, student films, and music videos. 

Houston International Jazz Festival


Address: 520 Texas Ave, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-230-1600

Date: August 

The Houston International Jazz Festival is an annual event that celebrates the rich history of this uniquely American musical genre. 

Throughout the month of August, renowned jazz artists from around the world grace the stages of various jazz clubs and bars across the city for the 3- day event. One of the 3 days is always held at the Bayou Music Center.

The festival not only offers captivating live performances from iconic musicians but also provides an opportunity to contribute to jazz education programs through fundraising efforts. 

Pro Tip:

There is always a pre-concert party/event at the Hard Rock Cafe right next to the Bayou Music Center. A ticket to the show gets you into the pre-event party, so take the chance to rub shoulders with some stars from the jazz world. 

Houston Italian Festival


Address:  3800 Montrose Blvd, Houston, TX 77006, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-522-7911

Date: October

The University of St. Thomas in Houston hosts a plethora of events throughout the year that celebrates the diversity of the students enrolled in the campus, but the annual Houston Italian Festival held here is one of our favorites. 

This annual celebration in October brings together the best of Italian traditions, including social events, live singing and dancing, community involvement, and unique knick knack hunting. 

Most of all you get to try lots of Italian classics like authentic pizza made by nonnas, Bocce tournaments, and classic Italian movie screenings.

Pro Tip:

If you’re up for it, definitely try and sign up for the grape stomping contests where you can get personally involved in making wine and maybe win a prize too!

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo


Address: NRG Pkwy, Houston, TX 77054, United States

Phone Number: +1 832-667-1400

Date: February to March

Yeehaw! Saddle up and experience the excitement of the Wild West at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. 

This iconic event takes place over three weeks in February and March, offering a thrilling combination of rodeo competitions, horse shows, mouth watering food, lively clowns, fantastic shopping, and unforgettable live entertainment. 

From barrel racing and steer wrestling to bull riding and horse shows. And when the sun sets, get ready to be entertained by some of the biggest names in country music, as they take the stage for back to back performances.

Pro Tip:

Parking during the event can cost upwards of $20 per day, so if you’d rather spend that money on extra snacks or a keepsake, try to take public transport or carpool! 

Houston’s Official July 4th Festival


Address: 18-3600 Allen Pkwy, Houston, TX 77019, United States

Phone Number: +1 832-394-8805

Date: July 3-4

If you’re looking to celebrate America’s birthday in style then consider doing it at Houston’s Official July 4th Festival, known as Freedom Over Texas. 

This spectacular event takes place along Buffalo Bayou and Eleanor Tinsley Park, for a day filled with live music, festivities, and one of the most dazzling fireworks displays in the entire United States.

As the sun sets, big name artists take the stage, for a live concert experience for all attendees. The vibrant atmosphere, combined with the breathtaking fireworks show, creates an unforgettable celebration of freedom and patriotism.

Pro Tip:

Most people go to the Fourth of July event for the fireworks, but make sure you don’t miss out on the live shows that start at 5:30 pm! 

Houston Soul Food Fest


Address: The Zone 10371 Stella Link Rd Houston, TX 77025 United States

Phone Number: +1 832-461-6729 

Date: July

Probably one of if not the most beloved festivals in Houston (at least by us) is the Houston Soul Food Fest. This highly anticipated food festival brings together over 30 food vendors from Dallas, Houston, Austin, and surrounding cities. 

All of whom showcase a wide selection of soul food favorites like succulent pork chops, flavorful oxtails, perfectly seasoned candied yams, hearty greens, crispy fried chicken, mouthwatering fish, barbecue meats, funnel cakes, and juicy turkey legs. 

Pro Tip:

If you have specific dietary preferences, you’ll find vegan and keto options available too. If you don’t want to eat, you can also check out the various vendors selling clothing, accessories, jewelry, bath and body products, and men’s wear.

Houston Water Works Festival


Address: 1 Botanic Lane, Houston, TX 77017, United States

Phone Number:  +1 713-715-9675

Date: May

For a day of educational fun and interactive activities at the Houston Water Festival. 

This event, supported by local, county, and regional environmental agencies and non-profit organizations, offers hands-on experiences and take-home materials for all.

If you’re interested in water conservation, you can explore water-related exhibits, and participate in engaging workshops. 

A highlight of the festival is the introduction of The Water Works: Museum + Education Center, where visitors can learn more about water and its vital role in our lives. 

Pro Tip:

Although a more educational festival, make sure you reward the kids by taking them to the stalls that have face painting and science experiments. For more active kids, there are also kayaking opportunities at the event!

Japanese Festival of Houston


Address: Hermann Park, 6001 Fannin St, Houston, TX 77030, USA

Phone Number:  +1 713-963-0121

Date: May 

If you’re curious about Japan, but don’t want to or can’t leave the city, you can immerse yourself in the world of Japanese art and culture at the annual Japanese Festival of Houston. 

Held over two exciting days in May, this event celebrates the rich traditions of Japan through a diverse range of activities, vendors, workshops, and live entertainment. 

As you wander through the festival grounds, you’ll discover an array of stalls showcasing Japanese arts and crafts, from intricate calligraphy and handmade fans to elegant kimonos. 

Pro Tip:

Don’t miss out on the unique workshops they have there like the bonsai cutting classes or the origami making tutorial stations. If you’re into it, there are also traditional Japanese tea ceremonies which are more complex than you can imagine!

Martin Luther King Grande Parade


Address: 13165 W Lake Houston Pkwy, Houston, TX 77044, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-953-1633

Date: January 

You can join the inspiring celebration of one of history’s most influential civil rights leaders at the Martin Luther King Grande Parade. 

Held every late January, this parade pays homage to the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. while promoting racial equality and unity. As the parade winds its way through the bustling streets of city center Houston along Midtown’s San Jacinto Street.

 The parade serves as a powerful reminder of our shared humanity and the ongoing struggle for justice and equality.

Pro Tip:

“To fully embrace the spirit of unity and equality, bring your own handmade signs and banners to the Martin Luther King Grande Parade.

San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment


Address: 1 Monument Cir, La Porte, TX 77571, United States

Phone Number: +1 281-479-2421

Date: April 21-22

For history buffs who want to step back in time and witness the dramatic events that shaped Texas history, the annual San Jacinto Day Festival and Battle Reenactment held on the hallowed grounds of the San Jacinto Battlefield is a must. 

This festival commemorates the pivotal Battle of San Jacinto, which secured Texas’ independence on April 21, 1836.  The Sabine Volunteers, a renowned reenactment group from East Texas, bring history to life with their portrayals in an all out battle. 

There are also cooking demonstrations and story times where you can learn about the daily lives of soldiers and civilians from nearly two centuries ago. 

Pro Tip:

To gain a comprehensive understanding of the Battle of San Jacinto and its historical significance, make time to attend the educational lectures and talks offered during the San Jacinto Day Festival. 

Texas Renaissance Festival


Address: 21778 Farm to Market 1774 Todd Mission, TX 77363, United States

Phone Number: +1 281-356-2178

Date: October to November

If you’re a fan of the bygone world of knights, maidens, and merriment, the Texas Renaissance Festival in Houston is a must-attend event. 

Spanning seven consecutive weekends on a sprawling 50-acre site, this enchanting event brings to life a 16th-century English kingdom. There are jousting tournaments, exhibitions and performances by trained falcons, magic shows, and live juggling.

As you explore the marketplace or stroll through the picturesque gardens, you’ll encounter vendors offering unique wares and delectable food from the same era. 

Pro Tip:

People can really get into dressing up. To fully immerse yourself in the Renaissance experience, consider renting or purchasing period costumes from one of the vendors at the Texas Renaissance Festival.

Christmas Festivals 

Uptown Tree Lighting Ceremony


Address:  Post Oak Boulevard, Houston, Texas, United States 

Date: November 

There’s no better way to kick off the holiday season than witnessing the magic of the Uptown Tree Lighting Ceremony. 

As the clock strikes Thanksgiving evening, half a million twinkling holiday lights simultaneously light up 80 Christmas trees, casting a warm and festive glow over the entire area. 

The whole family can enjoy the joyful atmosphere as choirs fill the air with melodic tunes and bands play lively holiday music. 

Pro Tip:

The evening ends with a spectacular fireworks show, so make sure you don’t leave too early and miss out on a great ending to a festive day! 

Christmas Candlelight Festival


Address:  Historic Heights Houston

Phone Number: +1 713-655-1912 

Date: December

The Heritage Society’ Christmas Candlelight Tour allows you to Step into a bygone era and experience the charm of the holiday season. This event takes you on a journey through eight historic structures nestled in downtown’s picturesque Sam Houston Park.

As you walk through these preserved homes, complete with candles and decorations inspired by the 19th century, you’ll feel transported back in time and witness Houston’s rich history firsthand. 

Pro Tip:

Don’t miss out on the freshly baked goods that are sold along the walking tour. Most of these are made by the people who live in the neighborhood or the people who restore and take care of these homes for a living.

Mayor’s Official Downtown Houston Holiday Celebration


Address:  901 Bagby St, Houston, TX 77002, United States

Phone Number: +1 713-837-0311

Date: December

The beloved Houston skyline comes alive during the Mayor’s Official Downtown Houston Holiday Celebration. This New Year’s Eve event brings together music, lights, and a fireworks display that paints the night sky with a sea of colors. 

Once the fireworks die down, the skyline comes alive with lights that dance to the rhythm of the music in the background.

Pro Tip:

During this event, picking a seat farther from the show is better! You’ll get to take in the fireworks display as a whole as the explosions seem to interact with the lights from the skyscrapers in the background. 

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