As mentioned earlier this week, food festival season is upon us in Houston, with some of our favorite festivals kicking off this weekend. The 44th annual Greek Festival started yesterday and runs through this Sunday, but you'll want to get to the Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral complex fairly early during the weekend to avoid the crowds -- it's one of the most popular festivals in Houston and probably outgrew its current location years ago. But that doesn't stop us from going year after year and enjoying it nevertheless. Tickets are $5 at the door and children younger than 12 get in for free.
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Next weekend, you'll have your choice of two great festivals to choose from in what will hopefully still continue to be great weather: Festa Italiana (October 15 to 17) and the Turkish Festival (October 16 and 17). Festa Italiana tickets are $6 at the door and children under 12 are free, while the Turkish Festival charges $5 at the door, with children ages 8 to 16 getting in for $3. Both festivals will have a profusion of food, dancing and other activities to keep your whole family happily occupied for an afternoon.
Of course, one of the most popular events of the year is also opening this weekend: the annual Texas Renaissance Festival. If you've never made the drive to Plantersville before, it's worth it. Trust us. Whether you're a genuine participant in the faux-medieval vibe or just there for the sheer spectacle of grown men in chain mail, whether you've got kids who'll be fascinated by the shows and animal rides or whether you're just a grownup who still gets a kick out of watching the falconry act while gnawing on a stump of turkey leg, it really is a fantastic way to spend the afternoon. Be smart and buy tickets in advance at Randall's or H-E-B; they're cheaper and you won't have to stand in line once you get there.
Don't forget that next weekend is also our very own Great Gulf Dinner, hosted at The Usual on October 16 from 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets are $15, which gets you a plate full of delicious seafood and sides from Gaido's, a drink ticket and live music from Paige Lewis all afternoon. We'll also be hosting a raffle, with all proceeds going to benefit Boat People SOS Houston, an organization dedicated to helping Vietnamese shrimpers after the BP oil spill.
Last but not least, get ready for a Food Network one-two punch as Bobby Flay and Alton Brown hit the Bayou City next week. Brown will be at the Costco on Richmond on Sunday, October 17, starting at 1 p.m. He'll be promoting his new book, Good Eats 2: The Middle Years, as well as signing copies of his other books. Flay will be here two nights later, signing books on Tuesday, October 19, at two Houston-area stores: Sur La Table on West Gray at noon and Barnes & Noble in The Woodlands at 6 p.m.