Lodgeur Guide: Houston’s Art Car Parade

The Houston Art Car Parade features more than 200 cars customized with whimsical art. Photo courtesy of Morris Malakoff & Danitza Ladwig.

The Houston Art Car Parade is a beloved Houston tradition that has been entertaining locals and visitors alike since its inception in 1986. Every spring, Houston’s downtown streets are filled with hundreds of art cars – vehicles transformed into colorful works of art by their creative owners. The parade showcases the fun and funkiness of Houston culture, as well as the creativity and ingenuity of the city’s residents. If you’re looking for an exciting way to celebrate Houston’s vibrant art scene, then you won’t want to miss this amazing event that attracts 300,000 attendees each year!

Orange Show Center for Visionary Art

The Houston Art Car Parade is hosted every year by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving Houston’s unique culture and art scene. Founded in 1977, the Orange Show has since become a beloved Houston institution that celebrates the city’s vibrant spirit of creativity and self-expression.

Each spring, they bring together hundreds of art cars from around Houston – vehicles transformed into colorful works of art by their creative owners – and host what many consider to be one of Houston’s most exciting events. The parade showcases both Houston’s funkiness as well as its artistic ingenuity – an event that no fan of Houston culture should miss!

Cars as Art

When and Where is the 2024 Houston Art Car Parade?

Art Car Sneak Peak

The Art Car Sneak Peek takes place at Discovery Green Park (1500 McKinney), on Thursday April 11, from 6-10pm. The event is free, family-friendly and includes 100+ Art Cars.

Lineup Party

The 37th Annual Houston Art Car Parade takes place on Saturday, April 13, 2024. Houston Art Car Parade day festivities kick off with a Lineup Party, where visitors mingle with the Art Car artists and drivers, enjoy a mini music festival, and food trucks. The Lineup Party takes place on Allen Parkway at Heimer, from 11am to 2pm, when the parade starts. Admission to the Lineup Party is free.

Art Car Parade Seating

The best seats are in the VIPit at Hermann Square in front of Houston’s City Hall and include an open bar and complimentary food stalls serving up small plates of signature dishes from several of Houston’s most popular restaurants. Food is served from noon until the parade begins at 2pm. VIPit tickets are available at the Art Car Parade’s website.

Most Art Car fans watch the parade for free along the parade route. We suggest bringing a chair or blanket to sit on, along with bottled water. The crowd is a cheerful mix of adults and family groups.

The 2023 Houston Art Car Parade Route stretches through Allen Parkway, along Buffalo Bayou.

Getting to the Houston Art Car Parade

Paid Parking in Houston’s Downtown District

Houston’s downtown district is full of paid parking options for visitors attending the Houston Art Car Parade. With so many lots to choose from, visitors can easily find a spot near the parade route and avoid potential traffic jams on the day of the event.

Some of Houston’s best-known parking facilities are located in Houston’s downtown district, including Houston City Hall Parking Garage and Houston Theater District Park One. We suggest choosing a lot a couple of blocks away from the parade route to minimize traffic when the crowds leave.

Using the METRORail from Midtown

The Houston Art Car Parade is a short walk from the Main Street Square Station on the METRORail Red Line.

Houston’s METRORail is the perfect way to travel from Midtown Houston to downtown Houston for the Houston Art Car Parade. With just a few stops and an easy-to-use system, it takes only minutes to get from Ensemble Station in Midtown Houston to Main Street Square Station in downtown Houston. This makes it one of the most convenient ways to get around on parade day and avoid potential traffic jams.

Starting from Lodgeur at Mid Main Lofts, you will take the northbound Red Line of the METRORail from the Ensemble Station next to Mid Main Lofts. Four stops later, you step of the METRORail at the Market Street Square Station. From that station, a quick walk four blocks west along McKinney Street will land you in the heart of the Art Car Parade near the Houston Public Library and City Hall.

Check out our guide to using the METRORail.

Houston’s Art Car Parade is too good to miss

Houston’s Art Car Parade is a unique and festive celebration of Houston culture that brings together hundreds of art cars created by creative owners. Hosted each year by the Orange Show Center for Visionary Arts, visitors can enjoy free viewing along the parade route or purchase VIPit seating in Hermann Square near Houston City Hall. There are plenty of parking options downtown to avoid traffic jams on parade day as well as convenient access via METRORail from Midtown Houston. With so much fun and funkiness to experience, don’t miss out on experiencing Houston’s vibrant art scene at this amazing event!

For more unique Houston experiences, check out Lodgeur’s post on hidden art destinations.

Learn more about exploring art in Houston:

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