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.
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.
Also known as June Festival, Festa Junina celebrates the end of Northern Brazil’s rainy season by offering up thanks to Saint Anthony, Saint John, and Saint Peter. Though it sets up shop in Houston, the festival pays homage to the South American motherland with traditional Brazilian food, dances, and live music from Bacanas Brazilian Band, a dynamic quintet that sets the soundtrack to the daylong merriment and helps wake nearby birds from their springtime hibernation. As attendees stroll throughout the outdoor and indoor spaces, they can immerse themselves in quadrilha, or Brazilian square dancing, and play traditional games such as Pescaria, a fishing game where prizes are hidden inside wooden fish. Youngsters at the fest can enjoy the moon walk, carnival games, and face painting.
Hosted across the city from NASA’s Mission Control Center, Space City Con invites fans from Houston and beyond to meet their idols from sci-fi and fantasy movies, films, and print media. Celebrities from beloved franchises drop by to dole out autographs and photo opportunities, in addition to with comic-, anime-, and literature-industry artists and writers. The convention halls rattle with sound of polyhedral dice during ongoing tabletop gaming events, along with the bellows of LARPing elves as they fall from a perfectly executed lightning-bolt spell. Visitors can pay homage to their heroes at fan-film screenings and the yearly Masquerade costume, in which they can show off fandom-inspired cosplay get-ups or purely coincidental Stormtrooper armor.
Now in its sixth year, this annual country party packs its Saturday night lineup with live music, finger-lickin’ barbecue, and frosty beers—all to benefit the Ronald McDonald House of Houston. A trio of string-plucking bands will keep cowboy boots clicking on the dance floor, including The Dirty River Boys. Meanwhile, more than a dozen smoke masters compete in a sanctioned BBQ cook-off. Throughout the night, you can feast on award-winning beef brisket and pork ribs, and bid on items at the silent auction.