Special Events

The 2015 Houston Summer Events Guide

Things are really heating up in Houston. And we're not just talking about the temperature. From mind-numbingly delicious culinary festivals to exhilarating dance showcases that will get participants on their feet, this summer is full of fabulous events.

Kick things off with The Woodlands' Wine and Food Week, where guests can enjoy the H-E-B Wine Walk at Market Street; Sips, Suds and Tacos night; a Grand Tasting and Chef showcase, and more. The weeklong food and wine event takes place right at the start of June.

Still thirsty? Beer lovers can drink up all summer long. Galveston's Craft Beer 101 Weekend is the perfect place to gain some knowledge and geek out over craft brews. There's also the fifth annual Houston Beer Fest, which features a selection of 200 suds and live music over two fun-filled days. And starting in July, beer nerds can enjoy a flight of craft beer along with food pairings at Sundown at The Grove. The weekly event, which takes place on The Grove's treetop patio overlooking Discovery Green, runs through early September.

Looking for something that the entire family will love? The awe-inspiring MARAVILLOSO! circus and dance festival is making its way back to Discovery Green for two days this June. This year's theme is "The Water Festival," with special features including an artistic performance over Kinder Lake and a newly commissioned dance performance called "DRENCH."

Of course, everyone will also enjoy Fireworks Fridays at Kemah Boardwalk. Every Friday in June and July, bring the family for a spectacular fireworks show set over the beautiful Galveston Bay.

Speaking of Fireworks, the summer's greatest holiday — the Fourth of July — is sure to be another dazzling event. Celebrate our independence at Freedom Over Texas, the Mayor's annual festival in newly renovated Eleanor Tinsley Park. Listen to live musical performances all day long, then get ready for the magnificent firework display over Buffalo Bayou. With unrivaled pyrotechnic artistry and the striking downtown backdrop, it really doesn't get better.

But that's just the beginning. Check out the summer events below:

May 21–24

Carnival Houston


Now in its second year, this premier event that kicks off the summer has exploded into a four-day weekend extravaganza. Kick off summer and celebrate life and cultural diversity at Carnival events, including a gala, pageant, paint party, street parade and festival, and family fun day with picnic and games.

May 22–24


George R. Brown Convention Center, 1001 Avenida de las Americas


The Texas International Comic Con is back. This year's special guests include legendary comic creator Stan Lee, Avengers: Age of Ultron's Jeremy Renner and Cobie Smulders, Hayley Atwell from Marvel's Agent Carter, George Takei and more.

May 25

Memorial Day Ceremony

Sugar Land Memorial Park, 15300 University


This seventh annual Memorial Day ceremony honors those who have made the ultimate sacrifice in service honoring our country. Held at 10 a.m. at Sugar Land Memorial Park, the commemorative ceremony will include the honorary presentation of colors, memorial tributes from members of the community and patriotic performances.

June 1–7

Wine and Food Week

The Woodlands


This weeklong event welcomes 10,000-plus guests to choose from a broad selection of culinary and wine offerings designed for both the novice and the serious enthusiast.

June 3–7

Houston Summer Boat Show

NRG Center, 8400 Kirby, 832-667-1400


Cool down at this annual boat show featuring hundreds of powerboats, personal watercraft, fishing gear, wake and ski accessories, and fun activities for the whole family. Find tickets at Ticketmaster outlets or online or by calling 800-745-3000.

June 5

Sizzling Summer Dance

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, milleroutdoortheatre.com

Kick off summer with METdance at this annual summer dance concert. The evening will feature a world premiere by New York-based choreographer Sydney Skybetter and the 2015 Emerging Choreographer in addition to some of the company's most celebrated works. Show starts at 8:30 p.m. This is a ticketed event for the covered seating area. Free tickets are available (four per person over age 16 while they last) at the Miller Outdoor Theatre box office the day of the performance between the hours of 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. As always, there's open seating on the hill, where no tickets are required.

June 5 – 6

MARAVILLOSO! The Water Festival

Jones Lawn at Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney


Discovery Green welcomes the return of MARAVILLOSO!, a contemporary circus and dance event featuring talent from all over the world and from Houston. The two-day event returns as a water festival with a graceful performance on Kinder Lake by Belgium's and the Netherlands's artistic company Chanson d'Eau.

June 5–7

Craft Beer 101 Weekend

The Tremont House, 2300 Mechanic in Galveston


The Tremont House will host a weekend of "Craft Beer 101" for beer enthusiasts this summer. Though it's designed for those new to the art of craft beer, even seasoned ale lovers will find themselves drawn to this weekend-long event featuring tasting, sampling and learning. Locally owned Galveston Island Brewing Company will take center stage as brewmaster Mark Dell'Osso takes guests through the basics and differences of craft beer, the art of making beer, and beer pairings with food.

June 6

Texas Hot Stuff Market Festival

CityCentre, 800 Town and Country


Grab your cowboy hats and boots and mosey out to the plaza from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. for a festival of all things spicy, fiery, hot and hotter. The Texas-centric market will highlight a variety of vendors from across the state. There'll also be exciting activities such as the "Hot" Dog pet costume contest at noon and a jalapeño eating competition at 2 p.m.

June 6–7

Free Press Summer Fest

Eleanor Tinsley Park, 500 Allen


Houston's hottest music and arts festival heats things up with six stages of live music, a mélange of visual and interactive arts, awesome local eats, and an enthusiastic, ready-to-party crowd. This year's musical acts include Skrillex, Weezer, The Decemberists, Charli XCX, Chance the Rapper and more.

June 10–12

TUTS's Humphreys School of Musical Theatre Presents Hairspray

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, tuts.com

Don't miss your chance to see a Broadway show for free! TUTS's Humphreys School of Musical Theatre will present performances of the Tony award-winning musical Hairspray. The family-friendly show is full of laughter, romance and great songs. Here's your chance to dance on the hill. (See previous Miller Outdoor Theatre ticketing information.)

June 12

Rainbow on the Green

Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney


Enjoy a night of electrifying entertainment at this annual LGBT celebration. This year's event features Derrick Barry as Lady Gaga and Britney Spears; one of RuPaul's Drag Race's top 5 contestants, Coco Montrese; a live performance by international best-selling recording artist Reina; and Grammy-nominated Marie-Claire "Amber" Cremers. General admission to Rainbow on the Green is free.

June 11–14

Texas Black Expo


The largest African-American empowerment festival in Texas features tons of celebrity guests, hundreds of exhibitors, youth events, business networking opportunities and more. Special events include an epic concert by R&B artists Keith Sweat and Chanté Moore on June 13 at Discovery Green.

June 13–14

Houston Beer Fest

Hermann Square, 901 Bagby


The fifth annual Houston Beer Fest is back. Come sample a selection of 200 brews while you listen to live music over two fun-filled days.

June 18, 20 and 26-27

ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, milleroutdoortheatre.com

Each night of this summer concert series — a Houston tradition — will feature different guest artists, conductors and music for audiences of all ages. Compositions by Mendelssohn and Dvorak will be featured one night. Another night will include Gershwin and Rachmaninoff works. Shows begin at 8:30 p.m. (See previous Miller Outdoor Theatre ticketing information.)

June 19

Historic Juneteenth Fest

Emancipation Park, 3018 Dowling


Emancipation Park's historic 2015 Juneteenth Emancipation Celebration marks the 152nd anniversary of the signing of the Emancipation Proclamation; the 150th year since the slaves in Texas were informed of their freedom; the 143rd celebration in Emancipation Park (currently hosted by Friends of Emancipation Park); and the 42nd year of central Houston Juneteenth Parades. The festival's events include a Congo Drum Call and Prayer, a Miss Juneteenth Pageant and The Lonal X. Robinson Freedom Stars Talent Show.

Juneteenth Celebration

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, milleroutdoortheatre.com

Celebrate the 150th anniversary of Juneteenth in Houston with traditional Gulf Coast music in the open air. (See previous Miller Outdoor Theatre ticketing information.)

June 19-21

International Gem & Jewelry Show

NRG Center, 8400 Kirby, 832-667-1400


Come see one of the best exhibitions of gems, minerals and jewelry in the world, featuring one-of-a-kind jewelry creations, exotic gems, beads, pearls, exquisite fine jewelry, estate collections and much more. With more than 300 booths, the show offers deep discounts and an amazing variety of beautiful jewelry to complement this summer's fashions.

June 21-28

Houston Pride Week


Commemorate the individuality and diversity of every person during this weeklong LGBT Pride celebration. The biggest event, of course, is the LGBT Pride Festival and Parade, which will take place downtown on Saturday, June 27. The event expects to draw more than 75,000 people this year.

June 26

Vans Warped Tour

NRG Park (Parking Lot), 8400 Kirby, 832-667-1400


Rock out at this music fest featuring Black Boots, Escape The Fate, Hands Like Houses, Le Castle Vania, M4SONIC, As It Is, Beautiful Bodies and more. Tickets can be pre-purchased at Tickemaster locations and online. Day-of-show tickets are $45. Doors open at 11 a.m.

July 4

ExxonMobil Summer Symphony Nights: A Star-Spangled Salute

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, milleroutdoortheatre.com

We bet there will be loud noises tonight along with the guest concert series. Show begins at 8:30 p.m. (See previous Miller Outdoor Theatre ticketing information.)

Freedom Over Texas

Eleanor Tinsley Park, 150 Sabine, 713-247-3500


The Mayor's annual July 4 celebration is back. Head to the newly renovated Eleanor Tinsley Park to enjoy fireworks, family-friendly entertainment, live music and more.

Kemah Boardwalk's Fourth of July Celebration 

Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp, 281-535-8100


Enjoy live music and a patriotic fireworks show over Galveston Bay starting at 9:30 p.m.

0x000AJuly 9–26

Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus

NRG Stadium, 8400 Kirby, 832-667-1400


The circus is in town. Bring the whole family to enjoy The Greatest Show on Earth, featuring performances by animals, hilarious clowns, dazzling high-wire acts and more.

July 12

Colombian Fest 2015

Downtown, 901 Bagby


Celebrate Colombian Independence Day at this family-friendly festival featuring Colombian eats, arts and crafts, and a main stage blasting the sounds of salsa, merengue, reggaeton, vallenato and more. Tickets are $15 presale and $20 the day of the event.

July 15–19

Houston World Series of Dog Shows

NRG Center, 8400 Kirby, 832-667-1400


Escape the heat at one of the finest indoor dog shows in America. Along with breed judging and obedience, you'll discover agility dogs racing over obstacle courses, flyball teams hurdling to beat the clock, and four-footed athletes catching Frisbees and dancing to music. Tickets are $15 for adults, $10 for seniors, and free for children 12 and under.

July 24–26

Space City Comic Con

NRG Center, 8400 Kirby, 832-667-1400


Get your Cosplay on! Houston's very own comic con features family-friendly entertainment and pop-culture exhibits for fans of comics, sci-fi, fantasy, gaming, literature and art, no matter the age.

July 31

Bikes, Bats, Brews & Bicycles on the Bayou

Fonde Community Center's Parking Lot, 110 Sabine


Join Bayou City Outdoors in a bike, beer and bat tour on the bayou. The group will meet at 7:15 p.m. to ride from the Fonde Community Center's Parking Lot along the Buffalo Bayou Hike Bike Trail to the Waugh Street bat-viewing platform. Watch the bats spiral out from underneath the bridge, then use the Hike Bike Trail to head downtown for a brew or two with the crowd.

July 31–August 2; August 4–9

Houston Shakespeare Festival

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, milleroutdoortheatre.com

Since its inception in 1975, the Houston Shakespeare Festival has entertained nearly a half million theatergoers with free performances in Hermann Park's Miller Outdoor Theatre. This year the festival is offering alternating performances of Macbeth and The Merchant of Venice. Shows start at 8:30 p.m. (See previous Miller Outdoor Theatre ticketing information.)

August 1–2

Houston Latin Fest

Jones Plaza, 610 Louisiana


Celebrate Latin culture and heritage through food, live Latin music, art, dance and fun at this family-oriented Latin music festival.

September 3-6

Dancin' in the Streets

Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park, 832-487-7102, milleroutdoortheatre.com

The thrill on the hill, the Dancin' in the Street...Motown & More Revue is back for a soul-filled Labor Day weekend at Miller Outdoor Theatre. Starting at 8 p.m., listen to the timeless classics of legendary Motown and soul artists. (See previous Miller Outdoor Theatre ticketing information.)




Head to this island city to enjoy 32 miles of Gulf Coast beaches, hit the pier, ride the Galveston-style ferry, tour the harbor and enjoy other hot-weather activities all summer. For a cool and refreshing, action-packed day, bring the entire family to Schlitterbahn Water Park, 2026 Lockheed. There, you'll find more than 35 thrilling water adventures, including a Transportainment River System, speed slides, tube slides, the Boogie Bahn surf ride, splash and play areas, and heated pools, to name a few.

Moody Gardens

One Hope Boulevard, 800-582-4673


One of Galveston's most popular attractions is the family-friendly Moody Gardens. Water your imagination at the Aquarium Pyramid; explore thousands of tropical plants and exotic fish and birds at the Rainforest Pyramid; or uncover the mysteries of science at the Discovery Pyramid. Enjoy rides, golf courses, 3-D and 4-D theaters, lazy rivers and slides at Palm Beach, fireworks, and more.

The Houston Zoo

6200 Hermann, 713-533-6500


Kids can enjoy ten weeks of fun, educational camps at Camp Zoofari, offered from June 1 through August 7. Or bring the entire family to explore, see wildlife and enjoy special exhibits all summer long. Starting May 22, gorillas will have arrived at the zoo. Now you can experience everything that makes them so wonderful, up close and incredible.

June 18, July 9 and August 13

Blanket Bingo

Market Square Park


Bring a blanket or lawn chair to Market Square Park for this monthly event featuring music and great prizes. Bingo begins at 7 p.m. $10 admission (cash only) includes one bingo packet. Additional games and daubers can be purchased for $1 each. 

Thursdays through June 25

Sounds Like Houston! Thursday Concerts

Discovery Green, 1500 McKinney


Hit Discovery Green to enjoy these Thursday-night concerts presented by UHD. Blankets, lawn chairs and picnics are welcome; food, beer and wine are available at the Lake House. Concerts run from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m.

Fridays through July 31

Fireworks Fridays

Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp


Enjoy the fireworks show over Galveston Bay every Friday in June and July. It starts at 9:30 p.m.

Through August 14

Xplorations Summer Camps

Houston Museum of Natural Science, 5555 Hermann Park, 713-639-4652


Kids will love Xplorations Summer Science Adventures, weeklong hands-on science summer camps featuring science activities for children ages six to 12. Camps are held Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. This year's selections include Chemistry Camps, Space Camps, Dinosaur Camps and more. Register online.

Thursdays through August 27

Rock the Dock Music Series

Kemah Boardwalk, 215 Kipp


Hit the Rock the Dock Music Series, where live bands grace the stage at the Kemah Boardwalk every Thursday at 7 p.m. all summer long.

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Brooke Viggiano is a contributing writer who is always looking to share Houston's coolest and tastiest happenings with the Houston Press readers.
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