UPDATED FRIDAY MAY 9
What is the Houston Art Car Parade?
The Houston Art Car Parade, presented by The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, is the world’s biggest celebration of Art Cars and the largest free public art event in the city of Houston. The parade attracts over 250 cars and other entries from 23 states including Canada and Mexico and an audience of 300,000 spectators eager to see the weird and wild vehicular creations. The parade is celebrating its 26th year and is bigger than ever! For a complete history of the Houston Art Car Parade visit orangeshow.org
Wait, what is an Art Car?
Art cars or art mobiles usually begin their lives as an older or used vehicle (car, truck, van, bus, jeep, golf cart, etc). The owner of the car decided they want to alter their automobile, not necessarily converting what’s under the hood, but instead transforming the exterior/interior of the car. Some artists approach the alteration of their cars cautiously and tentatively, opting to use materials of a temporary nature such as paper or tape, while others decide to radically change the original structure of the vehicle so that it in effect becomes a moving sculpture. To read more about art cars, click here.
When and where is it held?
When: Saturday, May 11, 2013 we roll from 3pm – 5pm. The parade route opens at 1pm, your opportunity to see the entries up close and stationary - meet the artists!
Where: The parade runs along Allen Parkway, starts at Taft, heads toward Downtown, makes a left at Heritage Park, and back down Allen Parkway the other way.
Is there a cost to attend?
No, the parade is free to the public!
However, we do have our VIPit Party which is a ticketed event, and certainly the place to be!
Who attends the Art Car Parade?
Everyone! This is the largest free public art event in the city, drawing an estimated crowd of over 300,000. Bring the whole family out to enjoy the community spirit and magic of this unique event!
How do I get to the Art Car Parade?
From the North (travelling I-45): Take I-45 south, exit McKinney. Street parking and paid parking can be found along Smith and the surrounding streets.
From the South (travelling I-45): Take I-45 north, exit Houston/Memorial. Take a right onto Bagby and a left onto McKinney. Street parking and paid parking can be found along Smith and the surrounding streets.
From the East (travelling I-10): Take I-10 east, to I-45 south and move to the left lane. Take the left McKinney exit. Street parking and paid parking can be found along Smith and the surrounding streets.
From the West (travelling I-10): Take I-10 west towards Houston. Merge onto I-45 South and stay to the left. Take the left McKinney exit. Street parking and paid parking can be found along Smith and the surrounding streets.
From the North (travelling I-59): Take US-59 south. As you get near downtown merge onto I-45 north and stay to the right. Take the Houston/Memorial exit. Take a right only Bagby and a left onto McKinney. Street parking and paid parking can be found along Smith and the surrounding streets.
From the South (travelling I-59). Take US-59 north. Merge onto the I-45 north exit. Take the Houston/Memorial exit. Take a right onto Bagby and a left onto McKinney. Street parking and paid parking can be found along Smith and the surrounding streets.
Where is the best place to park?
Parking in downtown Houston can be tricky. Our best recommendation is finding legal street parking either in downtown or midtown and walking to the parade route. There will also be parking lots scattered around charging fees for parking, should you wish to pay. Or better yet, why not ride your bike!
If you're willing to pay a few bucks, we highly recommend parking in the Houston Metropolitan Parking Garage, located at 340 W. Dallas St. It's only about a block from all the action at Sam Houston Park and The Heritage Society!
How long does the parade last?
The parade lasts about 2 hours, from 3pm-5pm. With picturesque views of the Houston skyline and all the eye candy rolling by, it’ll be over before you know it, so make sure you get there for the whole thing!
What can I bring to the parade?
- Cameras – a must!
- Soft-sided, collapsible chairs
- Small backpacks or bags
- Blankets or beach towels
- Valid driver’s license to drink alcohol
- Walking shoes
- Signs, flags, or outrageous costumes
- Funds to purchase this year’s beautiful Houston Art Car Parade t-shirt and to support our food vendors and Orange Show beverage sales – it’s hard to keep an event like this free!
- Friends and family
- A good attitude
Can I bring my dog Nibbles and his best friend, my ferret Anthony Hopkins?
Unfortunately, the City of Houston does not allow animals of any kind along the parade route. So while we would love to meet your clearly adorable pets, why don’t you just leave them at home this time. Now if you can get the real Anthony Hopkins to come, then by all means bring him!
Do you have any special hotel room rates for out of towners?
Why yes we do! Click here to find out!
Is the festival accessible to people with disabilities?
Absolutely! The parade route is along a main road leading out of downtown, and the sidewalks are wide, with ramps at each intersection. ADA accessible restrooms will also be available throughout the parade route.
Any tips on preparation for a day at the Art Car Parade?
Summer in Houston can be hot, and it’s likely you will be exposed to that sweet summer sun (unless you’re lucky enough to find a tree to chill under). That being said, we suggest preparing for the parade as follows:
- Dress in cool, unrestrictive, lightweight clothing (ie. that leather jumpsuit you’ve been dying to show off is probably not a good idea)
- Bring those awesome, trendy sunglasses of yours
- Bring a hat (preferably a big, crazy one)
- Wear comfy shoes
- Stay hydrated! Drink water before you come, while you are there, and after! And make sure you enjoy the beverages from our many vendors!
Are there ATMs available if I run low on cash?
Yes! There will be ATMs stationed along the parade route. Take a look at the parade route map to find out where!
What types of food and drink will be available?
Delicious food, of course! There will be an assortment of local street food trucks and vendors stationed throughout the parade route. We really suggest you check them out and support local! We’ll also be serving beer and soft drinks, so bring your ID!
Will you be selling t-shirts? Cause I’m a sucker for awesome t-shirts.
We are too! And that’s why we’ll have our super awesome 26th Annual Houston Art Car Parade Weekend t-shirts for sale throughout the parade route. Bring some cash!
I can’t remember, did you mention bathrooms?
Well we hinted at it. There will definitely be bathrooms available along the parade route should you need to use them!
What about my kids, is there stuff for them to do?
You better believe it. Besides gawking all the amazing art cars, we will have a fun kids area set up along the route, complete with a Mini Art Car Workshop presented by City Artworks, activities from the Houston Public Library, and music, games and tons of fun from Radio Disney. Make sure you head over with your kiddos during the day!
Do you give out awards for the best Art Car each year?
We do indeed! A panel of judges awards over $17,000 in cash prizes each year in recognition of the effort and expense artists assume in creating their art cars. The judges are comprised of experts and cultural icons from various art, automobile and education disciplines. The awards ceremony this year will take place on Sunday, May 12 from 11am-3pm at The Orange Show, 2402 Munger St.
Can anyone make an Art Car?
Of course! All it takes is a vehicle on wheels, some supplies, and a lot of imagination, artistic inspiration, and sweat!
How can I submit my own Art Car into the parade for next year?
Email firstname.lastname@example.org so we can make sure you’re in our artist database and get all the details in time for next year’s event!
I’m seeing something called The Orange Show. What is that?
The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art is a non-profit organization devoted to the preservation, promotion and documentation of visionary art environments, and provides opportunities for the expression of personal artistic vision. The Orange Show cares for two of the most important American visionary art environments, The Orange Show Monument and The Beer Can House. In addition The Orange Show provides award-winning community art tours, artist-let workshops, community murals, and other art projects to give children, with special emphasis on at-risk youth, real experience in art making and community building. The Houston Art Car Parade is the largest community outreach program that The Orange Show produces each year, and has become one of the most recognizable and inspiring events in the city.
How can my company become a sponsor?
Sponsors are cool, and if your company would like to be a parade sponsor, contact Elaine Dillard at Elaine@orangeshow.org to request a sponsorship package. Make sure to include as much info as possible about your company, as well as your contact info.