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Written by Jane Kellogg Murray

Houston Art Car Parade

Three decades ago, a wacky and wonderful parade first hit Houston’s streets: the Art Car Parade. At the time it featured 40 artfully decorated cars and drew a crowd of around 2,000. Over the years, the parade, organized by the Orange Show, has evolved into a formidable celebration of Houston and the marriage of auto-engineering and free-form artistic design.

On April 6–9, this once-niche event now expects to meet with a crowd of around 250,000 attendees, with about 250 art cars driving in from across the country. The parade has become an annual party the whole city looks forward to, as it shuts down downtown Houston’s Smith Street and City Hall just for the parade route and supporting festivities throughout the weekend.

The celebration this year begins on Thursday with the public unveiling of the 2016 Reagan High School Art Car “Bohemian Rhapsody”—a tribute to the band Queen. On Friday, revelers change into their craziest costumes for a spirited night of fun at the Art Car Ball. The parade itself rolls on Saturday at 2 p.m., and the event wraps up Sunday with an awards ceremony, where a panel of judges grant more than $20,000 in cash prizes. 

Fiesta by Cyndi Griesser

It’s like Mardi Gras if you substitute the beads and king cake with baile folklórico and mariachi music. What started in 1891 as a one-parade event to honor the heroes of the Alamo and the Battle of San Jacinto has evolved into the city’s premiere event, Fiesta San Antonio. A spectacular firework show during the official opening ceremonies kicks off more than 100 events across 11 days. First-timers can find the breadth of offerings overwhelming, so look for a volunteer for guidance—some 75,000 people donate their time. This year’s event is April 20–30, 2017.

Adios2

Exploring Cuba’s artistic production in the years following Fidel Castro’s revolution in 1959, “Adiós Utopia: Dreams and Deceptions in Cuban Art Since 1950” looks at how Cuba’s revolutionary aspirations for social utopia—and subsequent disillusionment—shaped 65 years of Cuban art. The exhibition is the most significant presentation of modern and contemporary Cuban art shown in the United States in more than 70 years.

Although many artists have emigrated from Cuba to live and work abroad, “Adiós Utopia” focuses on the untold narrative of those artists who remained, and it explores how the country’s history affected individual artists, shaped the character of art produced on the island, and conditioned the reception of Cuban art both in Cuba and abroad.

The exhibit runs at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston from March 5—May 21, 2017.

We hope you’re hungry: The weekend’s best bets to cap off March include the Texas Food Truck Showdown in Waco, the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, and rosé all day at the Texas Wine Revolution in Stonewall. Don’t forget to keep your guard up on Saturday—it’s April Fools Day.

While you’re on the road hunting for newly sprouted wildflowers this weekend, consider adding these weekend activities to your to-do list, including the Liberty Jubilee Festival and the International Friendship Festival in Eagle Pass—“where yee-haw meets olé.”

Startrails and their Reflections by Jerry Moreno

Go wild with the wildflowers at Jasper’s Azalea Festival, catch a concert during the final weekend of SXSW in Austin, and grab the luck of the Irish at St. Patrick’s Day events across the state.

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From raucous block parties to traditional Celtic dancing, it doesn’t take the luck of the Irish to find the perfect way to celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Texas. Grab your green, say your Irish goodbye and head to as many of these locales as you can manage so you can celebrate with the best of ’em.

dutchoven2Texas has plenty to offer travelers this weekend, whether you intend to join the SXSW circus taking over Austin, or you plan to wander far away from the hubbub and dive into events of a slower pace across the state this weekend—like the Llano Earth Art Fest, Houston’s River Oaks Garden Club Azalea Trail, and The Best Little Cowboy Gathering in Texas.

12901052 1737026259852399 7703005371157531243 oWith a bevy of festivals celebrating all sorts of things—oysters, Texas’ independence, fiddles, kites, lanterns—the spring festival season warm-up commences now.

mardigras galvestonFrom early-blooming flowers to Mardi Gras festivities happening across the state, make sure February goes out with a bang this weekend.

SXSW photo by Will van Overbeek

South by Southwest returns to Austin March 9-18, and it’s bound to be as surprising as ever. Secret John Legend concerts? A pop-up “Mr. Robot” carnival—Ferris wheel and all? A panel featuring both Michelle Obama and Missy Elliott? Who can keep track? The festival has seemingly seen it all in its 31-year history, but every year it returns with bigger and better surprises. Here are some tips on how to take it all in.

Make the most of your President’s Day weekend—and Mardi Gras weekend!—with these fun activities across the state.

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