Houston Art Car Parade
Allen Parkway, between Badby and Waugh Streets
Houston, TX 77002
Date: May 12
Hours: Parade begins at 1 p.m.
For the past 25 years, Houstonians have been treated to the world’s largest art car parade each spring, presented by the Orange Show for Visionary Art. Started after the success of the 1987 New Music Festival Parade, which featured only a couple of art cars, the Houston International Festival commissioned Roadside Attractions: The Art Car Parade in April of 1988. This first parade consisted of 40 cars, with about 2,000 Houstonians in attendance. As attraction grew and the event became annual, people from across the country began participating and entering their cars.
This year’s parade is expected to have more than 250 entries, including cars designed by professional artists, school classes, businesses and hobbyists. Many of these cars can be seen around the city throughout the weekend, as some entered have mini-parades into downtown on Friday, May 11th. Stops along the way on Friday include schools, community centers and the Texas Children’s Hospital to visit with those who might not be able to attend the parade. The entry types have expanded since the parade’s founding as well. So long as it has wheels, it can qualify as an art car. In the past, unique wheelers such as lawn mowers, go-karts and even unicycles have been entered.
Viewing the parade is absolutely free, so the most important thing to worry about is finding space along Allen Parkway between Badby and Waugh Streets to watch. More than 250,000 people are expected to attend this year’s event. One of the best ways to ensure a good seat is to grab some prime parade-route real estate. The easiest way to do this is by attending the early morning show-and-tell of cars lined up between Allen Parkway and Taft, beginning at 9 a.m. Meet the designers and see the cars up close before the parade’s official start at 1 p.m.
Although most of those who enter into the event do so just for some light-hearted, creative fun, there is definitely a pay off for the winners. Over $10,000 in cash prizes is awarded to contestants who clearly display a niche for these wheeled beauties. Whoever the winner, they are entirely deserving as the judges’ panel consists of experts within the fields of arts and automobiles.
For those who want a deluxe parade experience, join the VIPit Party, which includes a catered box lunch from some of Houston’s most well-loved restaurants, live music and shaded bleacher seating for great parade views. To reserve seating in the VIPit Party, contact Wendy Schroell at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Related: Best Art Museums In Houston
Best Eats Near the Parade
3210 W Dallas St
Houston, TX 77019
Hours: Mon to Thurs – 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., Fri – 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Sat – 12 p.m. to 11 p.m., Sun – 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
The parade doesn’t start until 1 p.m., so grab some lunch before the action. Teala’s Mexican Restaurant and Bar is close to the beginning of the parade route, a block off of Waugh Drive, and would be a great starting point for the day. Enjoy a delicious authentic meal or just grab an order of chips and salsa.
1111 Bagby St
Houston, TX 77002
Hours: Daily – 7 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.
Stop in at Skyline Deli before the parade for a coffee. If you don’t feel like like sitting down to a meal, choose from one of their many breakfast or lunch items to go.
1160 Smith St
Houston , TX 77002
www.massas.comHours: Lunch Mon to Fri – 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., Dinner Mon to Sat – 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
If you plan on starting at the beginning of the parade and walking along Allen Parkway to the end, you will likely build up an appetite. Have a early dinner at Massa’s Restaurant. This is one of Houston’s fine dining establishments, ensuring a great end to your fun-filled day.
Related: Gift Guide For The Car Lover
Gillian Kruse is a freelance writer living in Houston. She graduated from Rice University with a great love for all performing and visual arts. She enjoys writing about arts and cultural events, especially little-known ones, to help Houstonians learn about what’s going on in their city. Her work can be found at Examiner.com.