Houstonians are always looking for a reason to get together and celebrate, and do so with over 60 music and arts, cultural, and other assorted festivals throughout the year. Given Houston’s mostly mild climate, many of these festivals are held in one of the city’s many parks and public spaces, allowing attendees to get some fresh air while they party.
Music and Arts Festivals
The Free Press Summer Fest is the area’s largest music festival, drawing over120,000 people per year. Held each June at Eleanor Tinsley Park, the festival features dozens of bands on multiple stages performing a variety of music styles; past performers have included Weezer, Willie Nelson, Snoop Dog, Iggy and the Stooges, and Dwight Yoakam. The Bayou City Art Festival is comprised of two separate festivals: one held in Memorial Park in April, and the other held in the Downtown area in October. Each of these two-day festivals draws thousands of visitors who come to see the work of over 300 local and nationally recognized artists working in around 20 different artistic disciplines. The Houston Shakespeare Festival runs from June through August and offers performances of Shakespeare’s classic plays by local repertory companies. The free performances are held in Hermann Park’s Miller Outdoor Theater, and have been attended by more than half a million people since the festival started in 1975. The 3-day Houston International Jazz Festival is held in July at the Bayou Music Center in Houston’s Downtown section. One of the most respected jazz festivals in the Southwest, it draws top national and international performers and is attended by thousands of people annually. The prestigious WorldFest: Houston International Film Festival is the oldest independent film festival in the world and is held in April. WorldFest screens over 50 feature and 100 short films over ten days; past winners – all at the beginning of their careers – include Oliver Stone, David Lynch, Steven Spielberg, and George Lucas.
Held on the Asian Lunar New Year every year for more than two decades, the Texas Lunar Festival takes place in Downtown’s Hermann Square and attracts thousands of visitors. The Texas Lunar Festival celebrates all cultures, and features multi- cultural dance exhibitions, theatrical performances, food, and music. Houston’s Juneteenth celebration draws tens of thousands of visitors each year, and is held in Hermann Park every June 19 th . Celebrating African-American culture and heritage, the event features gospel, jazz, and blues music at the park’s Miller Outdoor Theater as well as other cultural and educational events. The 3-day Original Greek Festival is held in early October in the Downtown section and features traditional Greek music and dance, food, and arts and crafts from local Greek artisans. The Houston Japan Festival draws over 20 thousand visitors a year, and is held in the Japanese Gardens in Hermann Park in April.
The Freedom Over Texas Festival brings over 40,000 people to Eleanor Tinsley Park every July Fourth and features a variety of music and other live entertainment, as well as a world-class fireworks display. The Texas Renaissance Festival takes place over eight weekends in October and November in nearby Todd Mission, Texas and features 17 stages of entertainment on 55-acres and over 500 performers; the Texas RenFest draws an amazing 600,000-plus visitors annually. Texas is known for doing things in a big way, and festivals in the Bayou City certainly prove the rule. Whatever you are looking to celebrate, you can do it in Houston.