Houston Festivals

Whether itís a celebration of gay pride or an all-out Texan barbecue contest, thereís a party for it in Houston. As we all know, everything is bigger in Texas, so the festivals that pulse in the heart of Houston are some of the most entertaining. Amazing LGBT films premier at the Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival, and over 1,500 musicians play at the International Festival every year. And, since it just wouldnít be Texas if there werenít cows involved, thereís the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which is also home to the Worldís Championship Barbecue Contest. Really, no matter what youíre looking for, Houston is not only a place to find it, chances are that they dedicate an entire festival to it.

Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Reliant Stadium, 8334 Fannin St., Houston, TX: Tel. 832.667.1000
The biggest event of the year in Houston is the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, which usually starts in late February and runs through March. Riders compete in traditional rodeo events, while national and international superstar musical entertainers perform nightly for sell-out crowds. The Houston Rodeo is also home to the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest.

Houston Childrenís Festival

Downtown Houston (Sam Houston and Tranquility Parks) Houston, Texas
A full day of fun, the Houston Childrenís Festival serves as an all day childrenís fest and benefits Child Advocates Inc. Admission is extremely affordable, and food, drink and rides are plentiful. Disney Channel guest stars, Popular cartoon characters and a $5000 scholarship treasure hunt are just some of the festivalís features. Six stages with live performances and tons of educational games and booths are set up for kids to learn and have a blast. The event is Houstonís official family celebration and draws in a crowd of over 65,000 attendees each year.

Houston Gay and Lesbian Film Festival

P.O. Box. 1007 Houston, TX 77251; Tel. 713.225.2205
This annual event features films and videos "by, about or of interest to" the LGBT community at several venues throughout the city like the Angelika Film Center (a must-visit for any movie buff) and DiverseWorks Art Space. Now in it's eighth year, the HGLFF includes presentations of feature-length as well as short films, and also hosts Q&A sessions with filmmakers whose work is screened during the festival. Call for up-to-date information.

Houston Hot Sauce Festival

Houston Farm and Ranch Club, 12327 Piping Rock, Houston, Texas; Tel. 281.558.3518
One things for sure yíall, Texans like it hot. No one can do a hot sauce and food extravaganza better than Houston, and every September for the past seven years, theyíve proved it. The Houston Hot Sauce Festival draws in over 100 vendors each year, and all proceeds go to benefit the Stehlin Foundation for Cancer Research (the festivalís creator survived cancer). For the Kids thereís a crafts area, superslide and face painting. A peopleís choice award and amateur salsa making competition are some of the festivalís highlights, and an entertainment stage features jazz, rock and blues tunes.

Houston International Festival

4203 Montrose Blvd., Suite 200, Houston TX 77006; Tel. 713.654.8808
Houston's International Festival (iFest) is a multicultural extravaganza. Occupying Houston's late April weekends, the international festival hosts 1,500 musicians from around the world while vendors selling exotic wares and edible treats keep attendees satisfied. The festival takes up 20 of Houston's city blocks and fills them with the tastes, sounds and smells of all the world's cultures. The Houston International Festival happens at various downtown Houston locations, including City Hall and Festival Plaza at Reliant Park. $9 advance ticket, $12 at the gate. Children under 10 free.

Houston International Jazz Festival

Jones Plaza, 600 Louisiana, Houston, Texas; Tel. 713.839.7000
In 1991, Bubbha Thomas, the Executive Director of Jazz Education Inc., put on the first Houston International Jazz Festival in memory of late friend U.S. Congressmen Mickey Leland who died tragically on a humanitarian mission two years prior. Since itís beginning, the festival has become the only Jazz festival in the nation to focus on international Jazz artists. The festival also looks to educate Houstonians on broadening their horizons to music from other countries. All earning from the festival go to Jazz Inc.ís educational programs, serving more than 30,000 schools. The early August weekend festival also includes delicious food and drinks provided by local vendors.

International Quilt Festival

7660 Woodway, Suite 550 Houston, TX; Tel.1.781.8182
This definitely isnít a few ladies sitting around knitting a few blankets; the International Quilt Festival in Houston offers over 1,000 booths of quilting delight. The immaculate craftsmanship and skill of those who quilt is showcased, and many of the pieces are sold. The handwork and detail is amazing, and the festival is noted as the world fair of quilting. A quilting contest is also included, with thousands of entries each year. Classes are also available for those that want to learn a little more about knitting, and machines are provided. Shuttle systems are available to local hotels and food stands are available but a little on the pricey side.

Wings Over Houston Airshow

Ellington Field, 510 Ellington Field, Houston, Texas; Tel. 713.266.4492
Every October in Houston, the skies over Ellington Field rumble with the sounds of civilian and military aircraft for the Wings over Houston Airshow. In itís 23rd year the show solutes those who brave the stomach turning flips of military fighters and streamlined precision of flying groups like the Canadian Force Snowbirds. The event also includes a BMX Bike exhibition put on by the bikes of United Freestyle. War heroes and veterans will be onsite signing autographs and recalling their days at battle in the legends tents. The show also includes motion simulator rides, providing realistic reenactment of what riding on an actual fighter pilot would feel like.

Worldfest Houston International Film Festival

2949 Dunvale, Houston, Texas; Tel. 713.965.9955
As the third largest Film Festival in the United States, the Worldfest Houston International Film Festival aims to honor and promote cultural tourism and brilliant talent n Houston. The festival features more than 50 feature films (over 4500 are entered) and places full emphasis on American and International films. Categories include student film, documentary, television commercials, music videos and much more. Each year the festival honors a different country, and the festival has also kept the same creative director, Hunter Todd, for 39 years. As one of the oldest film festivals in the country, the event is a relaxed and intimate gathering of film lovers and creators from around the world.