When you think of famous Texas festivals, Austin City Limits and South by Southwest probably come to mind, but Houston hosts an abundance of festivals, proving that life is never dull in the Bayou City.
Houston Dragon Boat Festival: October
Location: Second Ward
Dragon boat racing is a traditional water sport from Hong Kong that is growing in popularity worldwide, and every year, Houston hosts its own competition along Buffalo Bayou. The 40-foot boats require more than 20 paddlers to operate. Whether you’re participating in the races or simply watching, the Dragon Boat Festival is definitely worth the visit, If you need volunteer hours, Dragon Boat Fest organizers will gladly give them to you. The best part: admission is free.
Texas Renaissance Festival: October–November
Location: Todd Mission, Texas
This one’s technically outside city limits, but trust us — it’s worth the hour-long drive. Texas holds the country’s largest Renaissance-themed park just 50 miles from Houston, so get a carpool together and check it out. Spanning eight weekends in October and November, every week has a theme, such as “Pirate Adventure,” “All Hallow’s Eve” and “Celtic Christmas.” With artist demonstrations, daily performances, food and drinks from all over the world and more than 400 shops to peruse, you’ll want to return weekend after weekend to explore this festival. Cosplay is encouraged.
Houston Whatever Festival: November
Last year, Houston debuted its own version of Austin’s Fun Fun Fun Fest with a new, two-day music and comedy festival that showcased more than 70 artists of all genres on five stages. The Whatever Fest is sure to bring even more acts to its eclectic lineup, with local vendors and food trucks also showing up for the party. Slacking in self-promotion for its first year, the festival has a lot to prove, but we hope Whatever Fest will continue to grow and improve in coming years.
Greek Festival: May
Escape the dining halls and chow down on plates of souvlaki, spanakopita and other authentic foods at this four-day festival held every May. Take in the mouthwatering smells as you browse shops and buy Greek art and jewelry, watch Greek dancing and cheer on competitors in the Gyro Eating Contest. Check the schedule online for days and times you can get in for free. Seriously, Greek Fest is your chance to eat so many gyros you can’t move — no one will judge you, we promise.
Pride Houston: June
Houston is home to the largest Pride Celebration in the southern United States. The festival brings together LGBT individuals and allies — and the 2015 celebration saw 425,000 attendees from around the world. The festival is free to attend, and the parade, which follows a week of events around the city, begins at sunset. Be prepared for anything at this one — whether its men wearing nothing but spandex pants and a bowtie, drag queens on roller skates or people in cosplay. It’s all part of the fun.