Do That / It's Culture

ArtCar Parade: Everything You Need to Know Before You Go

©MorrisMalakoff from the ORANGE SHOW CENTER FOR VISIONARY ART

An extensive five-minute google search confirmed what I have always believed: Houston is home to the first* and the largest* art car parade — and art car museum, for that matter. Facts aside, it’s also the coolest thing ever, in my opinion.

*I hope you, unlike my high school teachers, allow sourcing from Wikipedia.

This weekend, April 6-9, the cars are rolling through downtown along with tons of great beer, food and approximately 75% of Houston residents.

Here’s how the weekend will go:

April 6. Main Street Drag (9 a.m. to 1 p.m., all over Houston). Six routes through town, stopping at schools, hospitals, etc. Sneak Peek at Discovery Green (6 to 10 pm, 1500 McKinney St., free). A hundred of the cars will put it in park outside George R Brown Convention Center + live music.

April 7. Legendary Art Car Ball (7 to 11 p.m., Hermann Square at City Hall, $30 in advance, $35 at the door). Dress outrageously — you know, match the cars — and enjoy food and drinks from Pico’s, music and the opportunity to get up close and personal with some of the cars.

April 8. The VIPit Experience (noon, Hermann Square at City Hall, tickets from $150).Why not enjoy the cars like a VIP with food and drinks included? 30th Annual Houston Art Car Parade (2 p.m., Smith Street in Downtown Houston, Free). The big shebang: 250 cars traveling north on Smith, left on Walker at City Hall, left onto Bagby, then right onto Lamar Street and ending on Sabine Street.

April 9. The Houston Art Car Parade Awards Ceremony (noon, Smither Park, free). $10,000 will be doled out in 13 categories and is your last chance to hang with some cool artists and their works on wheels.

Now that you know the when and I assume you get the why… let’s talk about what you need to know before you go try to hitch a ride in a convertible that doubles as a masterpiece.

  • Go early. My favorite part of the parade is before it even starts. All the cars line up and are just sitting there, waiting for you to photograph them and…. TOUCH THEM. OK, well some of them you will really wanna touch. But make sure it’s OK with the artist. Last year, we got there at 1:30 and I remember rushing to get there because I was already seeing people post on social media and I had FOMO!
  • Bring cash. You won’t need it at every vendor, but it might be faster.

Art-car-parade-houston-saint-arnold

  • Get a beer. And, dare I suggest, an ArtCar IPA from Saint Arnold’s? Bonus points if you find the Saint Arnold art car.
  • Bring chairs if you plan on posting up. Secure a front-row spot and pop a squat so that you don’t miss a thing.
  • Don’t BYO Car. Really don’t recommend parking downtown during the parade, but you will for sure have garages and lots to choose from. Just… there will be 250 extra cars involved in the process, so be weary of where you leave your non-art car.
  • MetroRail instead. Ride to either the Bell St, Main Street Square, or Central Station stops and walk a few blocks northwest to Smith Street to catch the parade.
  • Bring your friends. Cars, no matter how artsy, are only so entertaining. Bring your buds and stay a while.

See ya out there! (Look for the It’s Not Hou It’s Me koozies.…)

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