Houston International Festival, April 21-22, 28-29
Romantic rhythms, distinctive architecture, and of course, the mesmerizing moves of the tango – these are just a few of the alluring cultural hooks offered by this year’s Houston International Festival as it spotlights Argentina. The elaborate and engaging celebration of world cultures engulfs the blocks surrounding Sam Houston Park, City Hall and Tranquility Park April 21-22, 28-29. Each day from noon to 8 p.m., concerts, cuisine, exhibits and demonstrations showcase cultures from around the globe.
Special features of this year’s festival include the Chevron Argentina Living Museum, which hosts a multitude of cultural encounters, such as line-drawn murals to the public can help paint, hands-on Argentine pastry making, and an activity area for kids to design and build an architectural model based on Argentine architecture. New this year is the Village Green area in upper Sam Houston Park featuring recycled crafts and locally produced goods and foods.
In addition to iFest’s 10 musical stages, a special concert at Hobby Center on April 21 features bandoneónist Héctor Del Curto and Eternal Tango for an evening of authentic, world-class Argentine music.
The music continues on the festival’s various outdoor stages with a line-up of local and international musicians performing a vast spectrum of world music.The festival, now in its 42nd year, is a proud tradition for the city. The nonprofit Houston Festival Foundation uses funds from the festival to produce a teacher’s curriculum guide centered on the featured country. This year, teachers across seven Texas counties use the guide to enlighten students at 1,471 campuses in our area on the cuisine, economics, folk traditions, geography and history of Argentina. For more information on iFest: Argentina, contact 713.654.8808 or visit ifest.org.
Texas Beer Fest, April 28
The 2nd annual Texas Beer Fest transitions from its Humble beginnings to Discovery Green for 2012. With about 60 breweries (17 from Texas), the inaugural festival was not that small, but the previous venue was the Humble Civic Center. This year’s showcase of craft beer and the people who create it takes place on Discovery Green’s Jones Lawn from 1 to 7 p.m. on April 28.
“Our commitment has been to support our local breweries and celebrate our national craft breweries,” says Clif Wigington, founder of the Texas Beer Festival.
“We want to support our local community and encourage a responsible attitude toward beer and the understanding that it is a craft.”Festival organizers are hoping this year to draw 70 to 80 breweries who will set up under tents so the brewery folks and their fine products can stay nice and cool. Additional tents will offer shade and shelter to festival-goers as they sample and savor the suds and festival food.
“The main purpose of this festival is to support and feature Texas craft beer, but as there are many other amazing products coming out of other states, we are happy to include those, too,” says Karen Rosenthall, who handles media relations for the event. “To be a bit more succinct, we support our local but celebrate our national. Also, we are committed to showcasing only craft beer at the Texas Beer Fest.
Like last year, the festival also will feature homebrew demonstrations and tastings staged by the Kingwood Homebrew Society and DeFalco's Home Wine and Beer Supplies. The idea is to encourage Texans to homebrew and to learn more about the craft of making beer. “We realize that today's homebrewer may be tomorrow's start-up craft brewery and we strive to support all local efforts to improve beer culture,” says Rosenthal. For more information visit texasbeerfest.org.
Art Car Weekend, May 10-13
Get ready to gawk: The Art Car Parade amazes all ages Saturday, May 12 from 1 to 3 p.m. This year marks the 25th anniversary of the event, which remains the largest art car parade in the world. At least 250 entries are expected from 23 states, Canada and Mexico, with crowds expected to reach 300,000 to watch the festive folk art flotilla roll along Allen Parkway. Early birds can watch the cars line up near Taft and Allen Parkway as early as 9 a.m. For the ultimate Art Car Parade experience, tickets are available for the VIPit Party.
The VIP experience includes a deluxe picnic lunch prepared by top local restaurants, shaded bleacher seating, live entertainment and more.The Art Car Ball kicks off Art Car Weekend on Thursday, May 10 at 6 p.m. at the Orange Show and the adjacent Smither Park site.
The park is on its way to becoming Houston’s first folk art-inspired green space and is expected to open this fall.
The always-exuberant Art Car Ball will feature live entertainment, fireworks and approximately half of the art cars from the parade. Guests also can mingle with the artists to learn more about the inspiration and ingenuity of these astounding autos.
Friday, May 11 offers the midday Main Street Drag, which entails groups of art cars cruising several short routes around town and schmoozing at schools, hospitals and other facilities. “The goal is to bring joy to those who may not be able to get out and see the whole parade,” says spokesman Jonathan Beitler. Later that night, Avenida de las Americas in front of the George R. Brown glows during the Sneak Peek at Discovery Green. This illuminating experience is free for the whole family features music, kids’ activities, food and fun from 7 to 10 p.m.
Media sponsor CW 39 will air promos in advance of the event, as well as broadcast the parade one week after the event. For more information on Art Car events, contact the Orange Show Foundation at 713.926.6368 or orangeshow.org.