For eight weekends in the fall, a troupe of performing fairies, knights, royal personas, and jugging fools set up camp on the 55-acre grounds of the Texas Renaissance Faire. For 38 years, the Festival has re-created the 16th century’s appealing combination of simplicity and grandeur with more than 200 daily performances of live music, acrobatic comedies, and jousting. Actors portraying different levels of society—such as the English court and the pirates—roam the lolling landscape in character while performing comedic and informative bits including “Sound and Fury,” a Shakespearean vaudeville. At noon the Grande Marche parade catapults performers from the Globe Stage for a stroll throughout the park as they advertise their acts in a high-toned procession.
On a less precise schedule, craftsmen concoct tangible marvels with skills of glassblowing and blacksmithing, while food purveyors wander the beaten paths or call from their booths, selling fare that ranges from sugar-coated nuts to roasted turkey legs. At close of day, fireworks light the sky to celebrate the festival's victory over time.
There's always a pot boiling somewhere at the Pearland Crawfish Festival. During the event, vendors bring in farm-raised crawfish from the Gulf Coast, cook it, and then serve it by the pound or turn it into sport through eating competitions. The celebration of cajun cuisine extends well beyond crawfish, too. Cooks here also fry alligator, ladle out gumbo, and stuff pistolettes?deep-fried french rolls?with a mix of spicy seafood, beef, cheese and other ingredients.
Yet the festival would still exist even without these edible elements. The grounds also encompass a carnival, complete with rides and more food, as well as two stages where musicians strum and blow the blues on one and zydeco, country, and rock on the other. There's even fun to be had for nonhumans in Splash Dogs, an activity where pups get to run off a ramp into a pool of water to cool down and try to out-cannonball one another.
In Houston, September beats out July and August for the hottest month of the year—it has nothing to do with the weather, however. The culprit behind the elevated heat level is the Houston Hot Sauce Festival. This annual event brings together exhibitors from across the country to sell and hand out samples of their signature hot sauces, salsas, jams, dips, and other spicy foods. Luckily, vendors also supply plenty of cool beverages, thus eliminating the need for bite-size fire extinguishers.
Live entertainment complements the spicy goods. Blues artists, jazz bands, and other musician play throughout the festival, and each day brings special events, such as salsa eating competitions or fire eating performances.
In its first annual festival, Houston Oktoberfest pays homage to the centuries-old German shindig by corralling more than 30 different beers from both local breweries and the Deutschland itself. German beers such as Hofbräu, Spaten, and Warsteiner swirl with crisp, effervescent flavors that pair deliciously with German morsels. Diners can also enjoy local seasonal pours and complement them by nibbling on autumn leaves. As participants mingle and sip, they can also swing their hips to the sounds of 10 different bands throughout the grounds. Louisiana’s Grammy-nominated Pine Leaf Boys headline the fest with a Cajun set complete with a squeezebox, raspy vocals, and fiddle, and Houston’s own The ‘71’s churn out hard-rock anthems such as “Confession.” The strains of traditional German music bounce off the nearby carnival area, which features games and rides for children, adults, and sentient lederhosen.
Occupying a prominent space within the 95-acre Sculpture Fields at Nova?s Ark, the 7th annual ArtHamptons event celebrates post-war and contemporary artwork. In recognition of the Hamptons' international reputation as an inspiring summer playground for culturally savvy individuals, "Escape" will be celebrated in all its incarnations this year. The fair's 50,000-square-foot museum-like space will feature more than 3,000 different works of art, which are all available for acquisition.
Although the scope of its exhibits is international?consisting of works by more than 500 different artists as presented by galleries from more than 10 countries?ArtHamptons continues to celebrate the creations of established masters as well as emerging talent from the East End. Over the course of three days, attendees can take in the displays and attend various cultural events and programming.
To keep the spirit of its musical roots ever near, House of Blues Houston keeps a metal box of mud from the Delta Mississippi beneath its stage and proudly displays the traditional crazy quilt. As the only venue in the revered chain to be built vertically rather than free floating, House of Blues Houston stands as a pillar of entertainment in the Houston Pavilions complex. The hot spot’s Bronze Peacock Room commemorates Houston's rich history and the blues clubs where Lightnin' Hopkins and Big Mama Thornton held sway, and features an enormous hand-painted mural depicting other local legends such as Albert Collins and Johnny "Guitar" Watson.