Special Events

The Five Best Things to Do in Houston This Weekend: Cinco de Mayo and Chance

Photo by Violeta Alvarez
Cinco de Mayo and Chance the Rapper in one weekend. Let's allow the awesomeness of those two events landing on the same weekend to sink in. It's not much longer before you get to punch out, call it a wrap and make a beeline for the Esplanade today. Find the coldest Modelo and plant yourself for the grito contest, but don't be surprised if it takes the party to another level. After all, it is the Mexican battle cry.

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You can tell retrograde has ended when Cinco de Mayo lands on a Friday.
Greater East End Management District's Cinco de Mayo, Photo by Dan Joyce
¡Viva México! The party continues along Navigation Boulevard this Friday when the Greater East End Management District celebrates Cinco de Mayo with mariachis, ballet folklórico, margaritas and cerveza. Extroverts can even try their chance in the "grito" contest. Celebrate the Battle of Puebla Day, a historic victory over the French army, in the best of Mexican fashion. Tip: When participating in the grito contest, remember to dig deep and deliver from within.

Noon to 10 p.m. May 5. Navigation Esplanade, 2600 Navigation. For information, visit eastendhouston.com. Free.

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Houston's man power is on full display at the Houston Dragon Boat Festival.
Photo courtesy of David Mandell
A long, long time ago, the most beloved Chinese poet had his heart shattered. (Some say by a woman, others blame the political climate at the time.) He decided to drown himself in the river. A group of fishermen saw him and paddled as fast and as hard as they could to save him. “Of course, they arrived too late,” says David Mandell, director of the Houston Dragon Boat Festival. Don’t put on a sad face, because beauty has sprouted from the dark tale for more than 2,000 years in the annual commemoration to the life of poet Qu Juan (340-278 BC). H-Town’s version, now in its 17th year this Saturday, includes dance performances on the main stage, food trucks and vendors on Commerce and, in Buffalo Bayou, all-day racing in dragon boats, which Mandell describes as serious business — 500-pound, 20-man-powered watercraft.

8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Saturday. Allen’s Landing, 1005 Commerce. For information, call 713-205-7373 or visit texasdragonboat.com. Free.

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Sure, the banana makes sense, but what does the celery represent?
Photo by Matt Murphy
New York theater producer Matt Murphy tells us Sex Tips was born while he was chatting with his wife about trying to find inspiration for his next big project. “‘I want to do a faux sex tips seminar, but I need to base my advice on something,’ I told her. She said, ‘Well, there’s this book all my friends passed around in college, Sex Tips for Straight Women From a Gay Man.’ And there it was, the greatest title for a show since I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change.” Still running off-Broadway, the aptly titled, laugh-out-loud interactive sex romp is coming to Houston courtesy of Lott Entertainment Presents. Murphy, who adapted the show for the stage, says it is also likely to rev your engine, just in time for your own Saturday night escapades. “The feedback I never tire of hearing is that our show improves people’s sex life,” he says, laughing. “It’s fun, a little titillating, and people blush a little. But it’s also a great refresher course.”

7 and 9 p.m. Thursday. Continuing 7 and 9 p.m. May 5-6, 7 p.m. May 7. Alley Theatre, 615 Texas. For information, call 713-220-5700 or visit lottentertainmentpresents.com. $37 to $57.

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Japanese parasols add the brightest touch to any stroll through the park.
Photo by Lisandro Sanchez
From eating sushi for lunch to texting with emojis, puzzling over Sudoku and catching Pokémon, “Japanese culture is more a part of your daily life than one might think,” says Patsy Yoon Brown, executive director of Japan America Society of Houston. But she hopes Houstonians will explore things they are less familiar with this Sunday at Japan Festival Houston, starting with a stroll through Hermann Park’s recently expanded Japanese Garden. Then peruse the vendors, beat the heat with kakigori (Japanese shaved ice), try your hand at kinyo sukui (a goldfish scooping game), be amazed at the martial arts displays and cosplay competition, and channel your inner tween for a performance by J-pop group Jr. Exile.

10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. Hermann Park, 1700 Hermann Park. For information, call 713-963-0121 or visit houstonjapanfest.org. Free.

Chance the Rapper's signature smile precedes him, as does his onstage energy.
Photo by Violeta Alvarez
It’s a good time to be a mainstream hip-hop fan. Future put out a pair of new records, each equally awesome. Drake, if you’re into that, is still out there doing Drake things. Kendrick Lamar’s latest is fire. And Chance the Rapper, riding high on the success of last year’s mixtape, Coloring Book, is about to play the Houston area for the second time, this Sunday, in less than a year after headlining Revention Music Center last October. Coloring Book is nearly perfect as hip-hop mixtapes go and signifies an artist who really seems to have found his stride after generating a ton of buzz for the better part of the past five years. If last year’s Revention set was any indication, his headlining set in The Woodlands will feature cuts both new and old from an artist who may very well rank among the most hardworking and humble of his generation.

8 p.m. Sunday. Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, 2005 Lake Robbins. For information, call 281-363-3300 or visit woodlandscenter.org. $30 to $89.95.

Natalie De La Garza, Clint Hale, Steve Jansen, Vic Shuttee and Susie Tommaney contributed to this post.
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