Everything You Absolutely Need to Do in Houston This Spring
Alright, y’all: We have a couple more months before that pesky heat creeps into Houston, so we’d better make the most of it. Luckily, local bars, restaurants, parks, and creatives agree, because this spring is absolutely loaded with events. It all starts with the glory that is the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Next, there are movies under the stars, chef throwdowns and charity dinners, sunrise yoga and doughnut runs, and festivals celebrating everything from bbq and mac & cheese. Mark your calendars, because this spring is gonna be a good one.
The Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo is here in all of its bull ridin’, mutton bustin’, barrel racin’, and boot stompin’ glory, with a full-out rodeo show, badass carnival, and new live concerts every damn day. Look out for upcoming concerts from stars including Dierks Bentley, Kane Brown, Gwen Stefani, Khalid, Chris Stapleton, and Brad Paisley; and make sure to end the glorious experience with even more live music and boozin’ at The Hideout or Wine Garden.
Cost: Tickets run from $30-350
The Ice at Discovery Green may have closed its rink until next winter, but a roller rink (cleverly dubbed “The Rink”), has replaced it through mid April. Look out for Top 40, ‘80s and ‘90s themed nights, and break out the skates for special events like Rainbow on the Rink: an LGBTQ dance party on March 20.
Cost: $8 per person with $4 skate rental
Discovery Green’s Kinder Lake has opened back up for kayak rides through the spring and summer. The small, shallow lake is the perfect place to practice your paddling, and it doesn’t hurt that you can do it under the Houston skyline, either. The lake will be open daily March 14-22, Saturdays and Sundays March 28-May 31, and Daily June 1-August; and hours are 11am to 6pm (7pm on weeknds starting in June).
Cost: Kayak rides are $5 per person
Discovery Green is kicking off its seasonal Screen on the Green series with a showing of the comedic superhero film, Shazam!, beginning at 8pm (and with pre show activities from 6-8). Blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics are welcome (no glass containers or outside booze), and food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase from The Lake House as well.
One Fifth is currently exploring all things Gulf Coast (before it closes to explore even more concepts in its final year), and there’s nothing more Gulf Coasty than the celebratory Friday lunch at New Orleans institution Galatoire's. As such, the Houston hotspot will be foregoing its usual menu to serve a family-style brunch with Galatoire's inspired dishes, instead. The party brunch will be offered in two seatings: 10:45am and 1:30pm. Make rezzies online or call 713-955-1024 for the 1:30pm time slot.
Cost: Brunch is $55 per person (beverages purchased onsite)
Every year, Lucky’s Pub throws a St. Paddy’s Day banger to remember (or not remember, depending on how much you like green beer). The shenanigans start bright and early at 6am, when the Lucky Charms and Breakfast Tacos Bar opens and Rod Ryan Live starts broadcasting. The rest of the day features the aforementioned green beer, leprechauns and bagpipers, a live broadcast from 94.5 The Buzz, live bands all day and night, food from spots like The Burger Joint and Oh My Gogi! BBQ, and then a whole bunch more of that green beer.
Cost: No cover before noon; $10 for general admission, $60-$100 for VIP
Saint Arnold takes on Saint Patrick at this annual Irish event. Held at the Beer Garden & Restaurant from 5-10pm, expect live music, craft brews, eats from corned beef & cabbage to beef stew in bread bowls, and the annual Donegal Beard Growing Competition.
Cost: Admission is free, with a Super Saint Package available for $50 for those who want VIP perks
The monthly Flea by Night market takes place on select Saturdays, offering a treasure trove of goods in the southeast end of Discovery Green and along Avenida de las Americas. Shop for kitsch and vintage items, mid-century modern furniture, recycled and repurposed items and collectibles, and cool works by local artisans and designers; plus enjoy food trucks and live music from 6-10pm.
Known for loving all things local, 8th Wonder Brewery is celebrating its 7th birthday with its annual Celebr8tion of Beer. Enter WonderWorld and you’ll gain access to performances from seven local acts, 8th Wonder brews, and food from the Eatsie Boys food truck from 2-10pm. Attendees must be 21 or over.
Cost: Get Straight No Chaser entry for $8; the Hound Dog Package (entry, three beverage tokens, and a limited-edition souvenir glass) for $28; or the Viva Las Vegas VIP Package for $68 (early entry at noon, a VIP wristband that grants carte blanche tastings, a T-shirt and souvenir glass, and a 32-ounce crowler to-go of the specialty Celebr8tion beer)
We realize the Astros are a little controversial right now, but if you’re H-town ride-or-die, you’ll probably want to score tickets to Astros Opening Day at Minute Maid Park when they take on the Los Angeles Angels at 6:10pm. Even if you don’t make it there, check out the Astros Opening Day Block Party at Lucky’s Pub, beginning at 4pm and running all night long.
Cost: Tickets start at $59
At 8pm on the last Friday of the month (from now through June), City Acre hosts a free big-screen movie night with '80s comedy classics, themed menu items, and a cool punch card system. Viewers who attend two movies get a free popcorn; three-time moviegoers get a free pretzel; four times gets you a free plate of fries; five earns you a free bottle from its special Cellar Bounty collection; and any film fanatics who attended all six movies in the series will receive a free dinner and drink on the house. The remaining lineup includes Pretty in Pink (March), Trading Places (April), Ferris Bueller's Day Off (May), and Back to the Future (June).
Set in the open air of the gorgeous Memorial Park, The Bayou City Arts Festival will showcase the works of over 300 fine artists from around the world, selected by a jury each year. The day also features live music and entertainment, food trucks, and local vendors; festival hours are 10am to 6pm.
Cost: General admission is $15 per adult at the gate (snag discounted tickets before March 20)
All weekend long, the Tomball German Heritage Festival will serve up a taste of Germany sporting 200+ street vendors, both traditional German and tasty festival eats, flowing beer and wine, street performers, arts and antiques, and kid-friendly activities (like a petting zoo). To join in, head to Old Town Tomball near the Historic Train Depot Plaza on Friday from 6-10pm, Saturday from 10am-10pm, and Sunday 10am-6pm.
Cost: Admission is free (plus there’s free parking and a shuttle)
This inaugural festival comes from the crew behind the Houston Grilled Cheese Fest, this time serving cheese via noodles as a lineup of local restaurants and food purveyors compete for the best mac & cheese in town. Your only job is to sample, sample, sample, and vote. It’ll all go down at Midtown Park in two sessions, 12:30-3:30pm (early entry at noon) and 5-8pm (early entry at 4:30). This is a 21+ only event.
Cost: Tickets are for $54 general admission (includes unlimited mac & cheese and open bar) and $69 for early entry
For the second annual Southern Smoke Spring (which raises money for food and beverage industry professionals in crisis and for charities like the MS Society), local celebrity chef Chris Shepherd will be hosting one celebratory night, starting with A Boy, A Girl, and A Goat Dinner with Top Chef and JBA winner Stephanie Izard, followed by one helluva Caribbean Carnival After Party.
Cost: Tickets are $500 for the dinner and after-party or $200 for the after-party, with additional sponsorship opportunities available
The fourth annual Chef Fest tasks 10 talented chefs with highlighting seasonal, local produce, inviting gastronomes out to Harvest Green Village Farm from noon to 4pm for a day of eating, drinking, touring, and celebrating Houston’s food system. This year’s event will benefit Houston Food System Collaborative, with rockstar chefs including Erin Smith of Feges BBQ, Masterchef winner Christine Ha of The Blind Goat, Dominick Lee of Poitín Bar & Kitchen, and Emmanuel Chavez of the upcoming Tatemó.
Cost: Tickets are $100, and include food and five drink tickets
Bring your blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics, and cozy up for a moonlit showing of Greta Gerwig’s coming-of-age dramedy Lady Bird beginning at 8pm. Eats and boozy beverages can be purchased from the in-park Niko Niko’s stand.
Arts District Houston
CultureMap Houston is hosting its annual food and drink event, the 2020 CultureMap Tastemakers Awards, at Silver Street Studios from 7-10pm. The swanky evening honors the top restaurant and bar talent in Houston, unveiling the winners with tastings and an awards ceremony emceed by local legend and rapper Bun B.
Cost: Tickets start at $65
Buffalo Bayou Park
Start your weekend off by flowing into a 6:30am Sunrise Yoga sesh on the Buffalo Bayou. The BBP has partnered with BIG Power Yoga for this 45-minute early morning series, which will take place under the city skyline on the lawn at The Water Works. Bring your own mat and reusable water bottle. Folks of all ages and skill levels are welcome.
Cost: Suggested $10 donation to the Buffalo Bayou Partnership (no cash, Text BAYOUYOGA to 41444 to make a donation)
You can earn guilt-free donuts by completing the 2-mile Shipley Do-Nut Dash. Even sweeter? The event raises money for Kids’ Meals Houston, a nonprofit fighting childhood hunger in Houston. The totally non-competitive fun run starts at BBVA Compass Stadium at 9am, with donut-themed obstacles along the route before finishing up with a “super sweet” donut after-party that includes free donuts, milk, and an ice-cold brew at 8th Wonder Brewery.
Cost: Register for $30 ($20 for kids age 4-12)
The Houston Astronomical Society will be bringing its telescopes to Discovery Green for a free Spacy City stargazing event (weather permitting). Search the skies for glimpses of other planets in our solar system, and whatever else is out there.
East, Central, and Southeast Texas-style barbecue joints make friends at this annual smokeout and festival, held at the Humble Civic Center Arena Complex from 1 to 4pm. This year’s badass lineup of pitmasters includes top spots like Blood Bros BBQ, CorkScrew BBQ, Eaker Barbecue, Feges BBQ, Gatlin's BBQ, Harlem Road Texas BBQ, Killen's Barbecue, Lenox Bar-B-Q, Louie Mueller Barbecue, Pinkerton's Barbecue, Ray's BBQ Shack, and Tejas Chocolate & BBQ, just to name a couple of ‘em. Your tickets score you unlimited sampling for the day.
Cost: Tickets (limited) are $60 for general admission and $120 for VIP (look out for early bird pricing as well)
Run by Tex-Mex institutions The Original Ninfa’s on Navigation and El Tiempo Cantina, Tacos Over Texas tasks chefs from around the country with showing off their culinary prowess in a taco throwdown, all in the name of charity in an event held at Ninfa’s from 1-4pm (noon for VIP). Tickets get you unlimited specialty tacos from the lineup of chefs, plus access to beer and margaritas, live music, and a day o’ fun. All proceeds from the event will benefit The Ninfa Laurenzo Scholarship Fund, which helps raise money for students with limited economic resources in Houston.
Cost: Tickets are $40 for general admission, and $200 for VIP
Arts District Houston
Stuff yourself silly at the annual Houston Press Menu of Menus, a 21-and-up event taking place at Silver Street Studios from 7-10pm. Tickets will get you all-you-can-eat sampling of food, wine, beer, and cocktails. This year’s list of participating restaurants include Hughie’s Vietnamese Tavern, high-end comfort food spot Max’s Wine Dive, and Japanese-Peruvian fusion spot Pacha Nikkei.
Cost: Tickets start at $49 for early bird general admission and $79 for early bird VIP (with perks including early admission at 6pm and more)
Harry Potter movies are cool enough as is, but they become infinitely cooler when set to a live orchestra. Watch as The Houston Symphony recreates the magic of Hogwarts via Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince’s epic score. Showtimes are at 7:30pm on Friday and Saturday night, with an additional 2:30pm showing on Saturday afternoon, all at Jones Hall.
Cost: Tickets start at $34
Houston’s biggest dog party brings everything pup to Market Square Park at 10am. Expect 50+ dog industry vendors, businesses and creatives, plus live music, the “world’s largest” dog pinata, and plenty of dogs for your four-legged pal to run around with.
Houston is one of the most diverse cities in the country, with over 145 languages spoken around town; and while we’re not saying you’ll hear all of those languages at iFest, you’ll definitely get a glimpse into Houston’s diversity. The event takes place at Discovery Green from 1-6pm, showcasing tastes, music and dancing, and arts and traditions from around the globe.
Do you like food, wine, and beaches? Then the Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival is for you. Now back for its 11th year, main events include the Premium Wine Tasting and The Grand Tasting; stay tuned for details.
Cost: Last year’s tickets ran from $89-119 for individual events and $169 for both; look out for sale info
Houston’s wackiest event is most definitely the annual Art Car Parade, when the Main Street drag is closed for regular traffic and open for traffic in the form of crazy looking art cars (and even some people on bikes, skates, and foot). Now in its 33rd year, the parade rolls from 2-4pm with the route opening for first looks and live music starting at 11am. Exact parade routes and stops TBA.
Discovery Green continues its seasonal Screen on the Green series with a showing of The Lion King beginning at 8pm (and with pre-show activities starting at 6pm). Blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics are welcome, and food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase from The Lake House as well.
It’s the 50th anniversary of Earth Day, and Discovery Green is the perfect place to celebrate it. From noon to 5pm, the green space will feature earth-friendly displays, exhibits, and booths on topics ranging from alternative energy to recycling methods, plus a farmers market and talks that will educate, inspire, and encourage you to take action.
Old Town Spring
Preservation Park will play host to country and zydeco bands, plus mudbugs, beer, and festival eats, at the 34th Anniversary Texas Crawfish Festival. There will also be fun stuff like a petting zoo for kids and an alligator theme park, Gator Country. The festival is open Saturday noon-11pm and Sunday noon-6pm.
Cost: Tickets are $12 at the gate ($5 for kids age 6-12)
Art enthusiasts can dress in white and head to Discovery Green for the inaugural Blanc on the Green event, an evening of art, music, roaming performances, bite-sized desserts, and the official lighting of the park’s spring public art installation: House of Cards. The showstopper consists of 126 oversized playing cards, each featuring original artwork; by night, the structure will light up, creating the illusion of the house of cards rising and falling.
Houston coffee shops are brewing up a festival for bean and caffeine enthusiasts, offering a morning of tastings from 9am to noon. Guests will have the chance to vote for the people’s choice best brew, watch a latte art throw down, and potentially get enough caffeine in their system to run that marathon they’ve been dreaming of. Participating roasters include Cavo Coffee, Cleo Roasting Company, Boomtown Coffee, Barbarossa Coffee, Pearland Coffee Roasters, Yellow Footprints Coffee Company, and others. Each will be offering tastings for folks with wristbands, with additional full-size beverages, beans, merchandise, and food for purchase.
Cost: Entry is free and wristbands are $20 in advance ($25 day of) for unlimited tastings
Tacos and margaritas are one of the most beloved pairings in Houston, especially around Cinco de Mayo. The official Tacos & Margs Crawl will cover the grounds of Washington Ave, popping in and out of the best area bars for tacos and margaritas starting at 2pm (1pm for VIP).
Cost: GA tickets start at $19.99 with a VIP experience starting at $39.99
The intentionally funny Doomsday Wrestling, described as an over-the-top “comedy wrestling” experience, will be body slamming into Market Square Park starting at 7pm. Show up early for live music, beers, and lawn games.
After a hiatus since 2018, the JMBLYA music festival is returning to Houston, with a one-stage format at a brand new location. Head to the University of Houston’s TDECU Stadium parking lot to catch headlining talent alongside exciting up-and-coming artists, with a lineup including A$AP Rocky, Lil Uzi Vert, and Playboi Carti. Festival gates open at noon.
Cost: Tickets start at $70 for general admission, with VIP passes available
Head to Market Square Park for a showing of stoner cult classic Harold & Kumar Go To White Castle on the big screen. Don’t forget your blankets, lawn chairs, and whatever else you may want to bring; eats and boozy beverages can be purchased from the in-park Niko Niko’s stand.
It’s “opa” time at this gyro-fueled festival, which shows off Hellenic culture over a long weekend at St. Basil The Great Greek Orthodox Church. Come for a mix of traditional Greek eats like souvlaki, pastichio, baklava, and loukoumades, plus shopping opportunities, Greek music and dancing, Church tours, and family-friendly activities.
Cost: Admission is $3 per person, but you can get in for free by bringing three canned/dry food items to be donated to Target Hunger
The Taste of Louisiana Festival will be held at Sugar Land’s Brazos River Park from 1 to 8pm, offering “360 degrees of Louisiana Food, Music, and Culture. Expect 20+ food vendors, a Bayou Crawfish and Beer Garden, French market of vendors, and live entertainment, plus fun kid-friendly stuff like inflatable activities and rides.
Cost: Tickets start at $10 for adults (prices will increase)
Hit up Market Square Park and get ready to say “BINGOOOOOOO!!” as loud as you damn please (do this only if you win, though). Guests are welcome to bring blankets and lawn chairs, or show up early to score one of the tables at the park. The fun starts with live music at 6pm, and Bingo starts at 7pm.
Cost: $10 for one bingo packet (approx 9 games); additional games and daubers are $1 a pop
You can experience the Zoo After Dark at this adults-only silent disco event, where the Reflection Pool turns into a club from 8-10pm (head there from 6-8pm to explore the zoo and ride the carousel). Guests will wear headphones with three different channels of music to jam to; plus enjoy access to cash bars, eats, and exclusive Keeper Talks to learn cool stuff about who really owns the zoo, the animals.
Cost: Tickets are $29.95
Comic book fans and pop culture geeks flock to this colossal, multi-genre convention, held at the George R. Brown Convention Center over three days. This year, it promises to bring a mix of “living legends, industry icons, creative geniuses, space cowboys, and scientific marvels.” So far, the guests include Star Trek stars Terry Farrell, Nana Visitor, and John de Lancie; and creatives like Ryan Stegman, comic book artist known for Venom, Inhuman, Wolverine, The Superior Spider-Man, She-Hulks, and Fantastic Four.
Cost: Adult passes start at $39
Hit Discovery Green as it continues its seasonal Screen on the Green series, this time with a screening of 2019’s Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker. The film starts at 8:30pm, with pre show activities at 6:30pm). Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome, and food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase from The Lake House as well.
Bring your blankets and lawn chairs to Market Square Park for a free outdoor screening of ‘90s teen comedy Clueless. Alicia Silverstone starts lighting up the screen at 8:30pm, and food and bevies are available for purchase from the in-park Niko Niko’s stand.
Discovery Green’s Screen on the Green series continues with a free screening of Jumanji: The Next Level beginning at 9pm (and with pre-show activities at 7pm). Blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics are welcome, and food, beer, and wine will be available for purchase from The Lake House as well.
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