When to Go
From October through early May, Houston's weather is ridiculously pleasant (barring the rare late-season hurricane). Once summer rolls around, though, four long months of extremely high temperatures (and humidity) bake the city, and Houstonians jump at any opportunity to get out of town. Air-conditioning here is arctic-grade and widespread; almost every indoor space you visit will have a controlled climate (even the underground tunnels downtown). Festivals are timed to occur during Houston's more livable months (namely, the spring). The annual International Festival, in April, celebrates the culture of a different country or continent each year (2008's theme was "Out of Africa"). In October, Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral in Montrose hosts the Greek Festival, a city favorite for more than 40 years. It can be really difficult to snag a hotel room in early May during the Offshore Technology Conference (OTC), a gigantic annual trade show for the offshore energy industry.
MAR. & OCT. Bayou City Art Festival. Held in the spring in Memorial Park and again downtown in the fall, this festival began life as the Art Colony Association's Westheimer Art Festivals. The festival changed it's name when it became more grown up (and, some lament, cleaned up and classed up), and today the Bayou City Art Festival is one of the country's top juried fine-art festivals. www.bayoucityartfestival.com
APR. Held downtown in Sam Houston- and Tranquility parks, this all-day event includes food, drinks, and rides—with all proceeds benefiting Child Advocates. Disney Channel guest stars, popular cartoon characters, and a $5,000 scholarship treasure hunt are just some of the highlights. www.houstonchildrensfestival.com
APR. Houston International Festival. This late-April extravaganza hosts 1,500 musicians from around the world, with countless vendors selling exotic wares and tasty fare over a 20 city-block area. It's a city favorite. The festival always kicks off with the beloved Art Car Parade—stake out your spot along Allen Parkway for this bizarre rolling spectacle. www.ifest.org
APR. Worldfest Houston International Film Festival. As the third-largest film festival in the U.S., Worldfest honors and promotes cinematic talent on an international scale. It runs more than 50 feature films (the best of more than 4,500 entries) in categories that include student films and documentaries. Each year the festival honors a different country. www.worldfest.org