Every spring for 2 consecutive weekends, several blocks and parks of downtown Houston are blocked off for the city's largest festival of the year. The Houston International Festival showcases Houston's diverse cultures and puts each on display for all to see. Each year a different country is spotlighted, with it's arts and culture exhibited. There are hundreds of vendors set up on the grounds, selling anything from crafts to food. There are various shows put on by local and visiting groups and clubs. The music is the highlight though, with several stages set up all around the festival, presenting an enormous variety of singers and bands from around the world. Admission is $10 at the entrance, but discount tickets are usually available ahead of time at local grocery stores. Check out the ifest website for dates and other details. A must-do if you are in the Houston area during this time!
When the space shuttle Columbia exploded in February 2003, killing all 7 astronauts on board, the people of Houston reacted immediately. Within a day, there was a spontaneous monument in front of the Johnson Space Center (where the astronauts trained) made of flowers, papers and balloons. It took gigantic proportions within a few days, and created a traffic jam on the nearby avenue NASA Road One. Somebody even had a "prayer station" installed with a pastor at the ready for anybody into that type of help and support, a very american way to express oneself I would say! The whole thing was really touching actually.
The Houston Turkish Festival, sponsored by the American Turkish Association of Houston, is an annual event put on for 1 day in the the fall. Held in Jones Plaza in downtown, the festival celebrates the culture, history and people of Turkey, along with other Turkic speaking nations of central Asia. Around the plaza, several vendors have booths set up with information & displays on history & culture, travel, and loads of stuff for sale. Native crafts, artwork, decorations, even beautiful Turkish rugs are available for purchase. If food or drink is on your mind, there are plenty of Turkish dishes available, as well as a variety of Turkish wines, and my favorite, Efes beer! :) During the day, there are many presentations and performances put on, informing and entertaining the many festival-goers with speeches and native dances. The festival is a great opportunity to get out for the day and have a great time, while also being able to learn so much about the history and culture of Turkish people!
If you like a free show from time to time then you must visit the Miller Outdoor Theatre. This is one of the few places in Houston where you can take a picnic dinner to a concert or play--for free. The Miller Theatre in Hermann Park was renovated in 1998 and holds a wide variety of family-friendly performances each year, including Cinco de Mayo and Fourth of July festivities. You can also catch Shakespeare in the Park during the summer if you're OK with being in the heat for a few hours. BE PREPARED- Parking is definitely an issue; you'd do best to show up early and stake your claim on a good parking space and a place to park yourself on the hill. Essential items to pack are a blanket, sunscreen and mosquito repellent. Relax and enjoy.
Families, set your calendars for September 8th and 9th! The Turkic Cultures and Children's Festival : 2007, sponsored by The Rain Drop Turkevi, will be held for the first time in front of Houston City Hall at Hermann Square from 1pm-10pm.
Kids will be enthralled within Turkish Kids' World and learn how to play various games of intrigue and challenge traditional to the Turkic world.
Not only fun filled attractions, The Turkic Cultures and Children's Festival will be a learning experience to all participating as we host various tastes and sounds of the Turkic World - from as far west as Bosnia and Herz., Turkey, and Azerbaijan to as far east Kazakhstan, The Kyrgyz Repulbic, Turkmenistan, and Uzbekistan. Enjoy the cultural sounds of Mehter, the classical military band of the Turks, rock out with Turkish Rock Band 'Ayna', see local traditional pottery and other handcrafts made right in front of your eyes, or just spend your time tasting the fine foods of these cultures.