The Rest of the Best: Houston's Top 10 Festivals

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Courtesy of GHCVB
Houston is flush with great festivals. Our mild winters and open spaces make festivals pretty much a year-round thing. We've decided to look at the top festivals in the area. Now keep in mind, we're not looking at events where music or food are the main attraction; these are family-friendly cultural and arts events. Our list includes everything from the small-ish Japan Festival to the mega-monster iFest, the Christmas holiday celebration Festival of Lights to the fest that defies categorization, The Art Car Parade Weekend. See who tops our list - and who didn't make the cut.

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10. The Houston Children's Festival
The largest of its kind in the country, the Houston Children's Festival celebrates its 25th year in 2013. Rated "one of the world's 300 unmissable events" by Frommer's Travel Guides, HCF attracks some 50,000 people a year with six stages scheduled with non-stop celebrity appearances and performances, some 300 games, crafts and activities, a petting zoo, food and more. HCF benefits Child Advocates, a group of volunteers that work with abused and neglected kids.

This year's Houston Children's Festival is scheduled for April 6 and 7 at City Hall.

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9. Houston Festa Italiana
Okay, we admit one of the main draws for the Houston Festa Italiana is the food - come on, who can resist the mountains of spaghetti, lasagna and sweets that get dished up over the course of the weekend? But food's not the only attraction. Along with cooking demos with celebrity chefs, wine tastings, there's plenty of entertainment including live music and folk dancers, a grape stomp, films, puppet shows and family activities.

Houston Festa Italiana occurs in the fall on the campus of St. Thomas University.

8. The Festival of Lights
The Christmastime Festival of Lights on Galveston Island features thousands and thousands of twinkling lights. The Moody Gardens grounds are filled with seasonal scenes, each aglow in lights and many with sound and automation. Santa usually drops in - literally, he jumps out of a plane and parachutes down to the festival. Singing carolers stroll the walkways and there's more entertainment inside. Christmas dinner is served all month long at the Gardens' restaurant. Buy a Moody Gardens attraction pass and a Festival admission for the best bargain.

The Festival of Lights is slated for the Christmas season at Moody Gardens.

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7. Japan Festival
We stumbled onto Japan Festival several years ago. It was a small festival with activities spilling out from the Japanese Garden in Hermann Park to food stalls surrounding the Reflection Pool. The festival has grown every year, and while Japan Festival is still centered on the Reflection Pool, it's spreading out to take over more and more of the park. A bustling crowd gathers around multiple stages that feature jpop music and traditional (the Taiko drummers always attract a big crowd), folk dancing, martial arts demonstrations, karaoke and anime / Cosplay activities and contests. Food and craft stalls have an ever-growing variety of offerings.

2013 Japan Festival is scheduled for April 13 and 14 at Hermann Park.


Location Info

Map

Houston City Hall

900 Bagby, Houston, TX

Category: General

Discovery Green Conservancy

1500 McKinney, Houston, TX

Category: General

Moody Gardens

1 Hope Blvd., Galveston Island, Galveston, TX

Category: General

Memorial Park

6501 Memorial Drive, Houston, TX

Category: General

The Strand Historic District

2100 Strand, Galveston, TX

Category: General

Texas Renaissance Festival

21778 Farm-To-Market Road 1774, Todd Mission, TX

Category: General

Hermann Square Park

901 Smith Street, Houston, TX

Category: General

University of St. Thomas

3800 Montrose Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: General

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral

3511 Yoakum Blvd., Houston, TX

Category: General


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15 comments
HelloMan22
HelloMan22

What about Via Colori? It's one of the most unique festival concept in Houston. You actually get to see the artists at work. And it also goes to good cost...the Center for Hearing and Speech. It's free like the Korean Festival.

Stilton
Stilton

Korean Festival. Free. On Discovery Green. Food, entertainment, arts and crafts, music. Every Sept/Oct.

You totally overlooked this one.

jkellymassey
jkellymassey

I miss west fest! Bayou City art fest pales in comparison. Great list though.

Vincent Aurelio
Vincent Aurelio

Releasing such a list on "Go Texan Day" that omits RodeoHouston? Nice.

basshole
basshole

I'm not saying it's the best thing ever, but it seems to me that leaving Free Press Summer Fest off the list entirely gives the appearance of an intentional snub. Couldn't have anything to do with the fact that it's put on by another entertainment publication, does it?

Costantino Aquaman Martinez
Costantino Aquaman Martinez

so excited for so many of them especially before that blistering heat makes it way throughout the city

Nina Afrique
Nina Afrique

Both Festivals are the Best. I attend each year.

Hector Garcia
Hector Garcia

You forgot one festival. The Puppies for Breakfast Dog Festival on April 27th. www.puppiesforbreakfast.com. :)

Olivia Online
Olivia Online

@Stilton You're right, the Korean Festival is fun and being free makes it even more attractive but there were only 10 spots on the list. Maybe next time ... 

basshole
basshole

So sorry. I totally missed that, and I swear I thought I read carefully.

Mark
Mark

@basshole"Now keep in mind, we're not looking at events where music or food are the main attraction..."

 Pretty clear

Olivia Online
Olivia Online

@basshole Actually, it's not on the list because it's mostly a music festival, not because it's put on by another publication. They do a great job with Summer Fest and our music section covers the festival extensively.

Stilton
Stilton

@basshole (not to mention that it was really poorly done for the most part. ask anyone who waited hours in line)

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