Lasso Up a Good Time at the 2024 Houston Rodeo

The nitty gritty guide to the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

This could be you at the Houston Rodeo. (Kidding, leave it to the pro cowboys.) | Courtesy of Rodeo Houston
This could be you at the Houston Rodeo. (Kidding, leave it to the pro cowboys.) | Courtesy of Rodeo Houston

Giddy up, y’all! The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is back in action, running daily now through March 17, and bringing all its boot scootin’ awesomeness along with it. Drawing nearly 2 million fans, the Houston Rodeo goes beyond lassoing cattle and corn dogs. It’s a big-deal scholarship provider in the nation and has committed more than $550 million to the youth of Texas since its inception in 1932. See? We’re already learning fun facts. Now we’ve got five things you need to know about the Houston Rodeo.

Dusting off the cowboy boots and embracing the Rodeo spirit is an absolute Houston bucket lister for locals and visitors alike. Here’s what you need to know to have the best time possible, from how to get there and how to score tickets to where to eat, drink, and two-step into the after parties.

How to get to Houston Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is located in NRG Park. (Here’s a handy map of the grounds). Gates to NRG Park open at 8 am daily.

If you plan on driving, expect some traffic if you’re heading in close to showtime (and on weekends). The Rodeo’s Transportation guide offers links to traffic updates, as well as info on Ride Sharing, Limo, Taxis, and Public Passenger drop-offs and pick-ups and parking info.

All NRG Park parking lots (map here) will be cashless, though some will accept cash including the lots at OST, 610, and Reed Road. Check out the Mobile App for updated parking information and interactive maps, and the Tram schedule to score free rides to and from parking lots and the grounds.

You can also catch a ride on one of the METRORail’s three rail lines for $1.25 one way, a super easy way to get there if you’re coming from Downtown, the Museum District, or the Med Center (hint: you can park at those locations and ride on over).

What exactly is at the Houston Rodeo?

There’s a whole lot going on here, so let’s break it down.

First, there’s the Livestock & Horse Show held in NRG Center and NRG Arena. With over 34,000 livestock entries, there is always a competition on deck, with events beginning as early as at 8 am (as seen on the daily schedule). You can pop in the centers to see cattle, horses, sheep and goats, llamas and alpacas, and adorable baby chicks being hatched throughout the day.

Then, there’s the RodeoHouston Super Series, which goes down inside NRG Stadium and is immediately followed by a rocking concert from some of today’s top artists—Blake Shelton, 50 Cent, and more.

The Rodeo features bareback riding, bull riding, saddle bronc riding, steer wrestling, tie-down roping, team roping, and women’s barrel racing and breakaway roping. Showtimes begin at 6:45 pm Monday through Friday and 3:45 pm on weekends.

Elsewhere, there’s The Junction section featuring the giant Carnival with eats, games, rides (like a Ferris wheel with air-conditioned cabins), and shops, a Stars Over Texas Stage for live music, and fun family-friendly stuff like mutton bustin’, a petting zoo, and pig races. Hours run 9 am to 9 pm. Carnival admission is included with the purchase of an NRG Park Admission ticket or a Rodeo/Concert ticket, with game/ride tickets and fast passes available for purchase onsite.

Courtesy of Rodeo Houston

How much are tickets?

Rodeo Concert ticket prices start at $25, plus ticket convenience fees and can go all the way up to the $400 range. That’ll get you into the stadium to see the Rodeo and Concert and gain you access to all the rest of the grounds.

Grounds admission runs $20 ($10 for kids age 3-12), with season passes available for $50, gaining you access to all public activities at NRG Park, NRG Center and NRG Arena, including the Horse Show and Carnival, but no access to the Rodeo and Concert.

What to eat and drink

Some come to the Rodeo just to eat. To them, we say: We totally get it!

Turkey Legs, Corn Dogs, Funnel Cakes, BBQ Baked Potatoes, Deep Fried Krispy Kreme Banana Split (you read that right). You’ll find it all (and then some) at the Rodeo’s many, many concession stands along Rodeo Plaza. Need to narrow it down? Go for 2022 Gold Buckle Foodie award winners like the Deep Fried Jambalaya Roll at Cajun Cowboy (Best Fried Food, Rodeo Plaza 55) or the Fried Red Velvet Cupcake from Sills Funnel Cakes (Best Dessert, Rodeo Plaza 120).

There’s also Bun B’s smash burger sensation Trill Burgers (Rodeo Plaza 130) and the return of Berg Hospitality’s sit-down dining experience The Ranch Steakhouse + Saloon (southwest corner of NRG Astrodome), part upscale casual eatery with live music and a covered patio, part fine dining steakhouse experience with reservations via OpenTable.

This Crunchy Cheetos Float from The Candy Factory beckons… | Courtesy Rodeo Houston

How to pregame and after party

This ain’t the Rodeo’s first rodeo—meaning they absolutely know people want to get the party going before and after the show.

You can do so at The Champion Wine Garden in Carruth Plaza next to NRG Stadium, where you’ll find a live music lineup alongside 75 champion wines from the 2023 Rodeo Uncorked International Wine Competition for purchase by the glass and bottle. Hours run Monday through Thursday from 4 pm to 11 pm; Friday 2 pm to midnight, Saturday 11 am to midnight, and Sunday 10 am to 10 pm (with a food truck brunch on Sundays till noon).

There’s also the Topo Chico Hard Seltzer’s Backyard, an outdoor oasis featuring lounge areas, hard seltzer, and beer located on the East side of the Astrodome, near the Junction.

The Rodeo’s very-own honky-tonk, The Hideout, is the late-night two-steppin’ favorite. Located in a big ol’ tent on the west side of NRG Arena, the after-party spot features a dance floor, bars, a Jim Beam Trailer, live DJs when the doors open at 6pm, and live performances beginning at 10:15 pm on weekdays and 8:30 pm on weekends. Admission is free with your NRG Park admission or RodeoHouston ticket (21-and-up).

And new this year, Berg Hospitality’s The Ranch After Dark is open nightly from 10 pm to close, with live DJs, dancing, a la carte drinks or bottle bottle service with a $500 minimum per table.

Want more Thrillist? Follow us on Instagram, Twitter, Pinterest, YouTube, TikTok, and Snapchat.

Brooke Viggiano is a Houston-based writer who suddenly has a ton of weekend plans. Follow her journeys on IG @brookiefafa or on Twitter @brookeviggiano.