​​Top 10 Things to Check Out During the 2024 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Houston Rodeo ferris wheel

No other cultural event embodies Houston like the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. With a 90-year history, it’s easily the city’s biggest event of the year drawing up to 175,000 visitors every day. Best of all, the Rodeo lasts for nearly three weeks, so there is plenty of time to join in the fun.

When does the actual Houston Rodeo event start?

  • Pre-Rodeo 2024 Dates:
    • World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest – February 22 – 24, 2024
    • Go Texan Day (the unofficial kickoff for Rodeo) – February 23, 2024
    • Rodeo Run and Rodeo Parade (Downtown Houston) – February 24, 2024
    • Rodeo Uncorked! International Wine Auction and Dinner – February 25, 2024
  • Rodeo, concerts and carnival 2024 Dates:
    • Houston Rodeo takes place daily – February 27 – March 17
    • Weekday rodeos start at 6:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately 9 p.m. NRG Stadium gates open at 6 p.m.
    • Weekend rodeos start at 3:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately 6 p.m. NRG Stadium gates open at 3 p.m.

If this is in fact your first rodeo, check out Lodgeur’s top 10 must-do Houston Rodeo experiences. 

1 – Rodeo Super Series events

Be sure not to miss the Rodeo Super Series events, which is what makes a rodeo a rodeo after all. The show starts with a covered wagon race and then moves on through events like barrel racing, team roping and bronco riding. Bull Riding is by far the most popular competitive event, but there’s nothing cuter than watching the tiny cowboys and cowgirls hang on for dear life during the Mutton Bustin’ event where kids around 5 years old ride a sheep bareback across the corral.

2 – Massive concerts at NRG Stadium

Concert at NRG Stadium
Star-studded concerts sell out NRG Stadium.

While there’s plenty to do at Rodeo, Houstonians get most excited about the nightly concerts that span a full range of genres from classic country music to hip-hop and Tejano. Honestly, they’re the hottest tickets in town, and it’s standard for the top acts to sell out NRG Stadium months in advance. Frequent country performers include Jason Aldean, Brad Paisley and Jon Pardi. The 2023 Houston Rodeo lineup also includes Machine Gun Kelly, Bun B, and New Kids on the Block.

Your concert ticket includes entry to the Rodeo fairgrounds and all of the Rodeo Super Series events. The concert lasts about one hour and follows the Rodeo Super Series events.

The concert lineup is released in January each year on the website for the Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo. Tickets go on sale about a week later.

When do the Houston Rodeo concerts start?

  • Weekday rodeo concerts start around 9 p.m.
  • Weekend rodeo concerts start around 6 p.m.

3 – Carnival rides and Ferris Wheels

Carnival rides
Carnival rides thrill kids of all ages.

If you have little ones and can’t stay out late for the events and concerts, attending the carnival outside the stadium is a great daytime activity that features all the usual rides for kids of all ages. Download the Rodeo Houston app to purchase and use carnival tickets.

In 2023, the Rodeo had 4 ferris wheels. The tallest ferris wheel at the Rodeo is The Big Wheel, which stands 130 feet high and has 36 air-conditioned cabins.

How much do carnival tickets cost for the Houston Rodeo?

Carnival Tickets work for both rides and games. Tickets cost 50 cents each you can expect to use 4-20 tickets per ride.

What hours is the Houston Rodeo Carnival open?

The Houston Rodeo Carnival is usually open from noon to midnight on school days. On weekends and Spring Break, the Houston Rodeo Carnival is usually open from 10am to midnight.

4 – World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest

bbq brisket

If you can get tickets to the best shows and rodeo events, that’s a win. But if you get the chance to attend the epic World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, you’d better show up with an empty stomach and dancing shoes because, simply put: it’s a party! In fact, many of the large, sponsored tents are invite-only affairs.

5 – Livestock auctions and exhibitions

Sheep attending the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Sheep attending the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

True to its roots, the Rodeo features several livestock auctions, but they’re absolutely not your run-of-the-mill auctions! Ranchers come to Houston from all parts of Texas, and some animals can sell for well above six figures. Best of all, a substantial portion of that money often goes to local charities. The livestock are in the NRG Center, and you can wander around meeting them. One day, you might see cows and another day the goats. The back corner has a birthing center where baby pigs and sheep are born during rodeo. A children’s petting zoo and area to watch chickens hatch rounds out the kid-friendly experience.

6 – Food, food, and more food

nachos

If eating barbeque isn’t your first choice, you have plenty of other dining options at the Rodeo, especially since they added a sit-down dining area called The Ranch Saloon + Steakhouse. Rodeo vendors include restaurant favorites from Houston and around Texas. Choose from tacos, turkey legs and almost any kind of meat on a stick in the massive covered food court between the Rodeo Carnival and the NRG Center’s indoor livestock exhibits. You can also check out the usual booths in NRG Center, Rodeo Plaza, and the Junction sections of NRG Park. Try vetted treats featured in our post on last year’s Rodeo Gold Buckle Foodie Award winners.

7 – Take the METRORail to beat the hassle of Houston Rodeo parking

Avoid the rodeo parking headache, take the METRORail instead.

Thousands and thousands of people attend the Rodeo, making it tough to find parking near NRG Stadium. Because of this, an overwhelming number of people rely on rideshare apps like Uber for transportation, which hikes up the price and makes it almost impossible for your driver to find you. So avoid the headache, and hop on the METRORail instead!

By the way, if you stay with Lodgeur in the heart of Houston’s Midtown neighborhood, you’re just a hop, skip and a jump away from the METRORail. You can be home before the Uber riders find their ride.

8 – Shopping, arts, and crafts

Shopping, arts, and crafts
Discover the Rodeo’s treasures: crafts, art, and unique shopping delights.

Bull riding, bar-b-que, and the concerts round out the top attractions but don’t forget about the shopping, arts, and crafts at NRG Center. Hundreds of merchandisers come to Houston to sell some of the most beautiful hand-crafted wares you’ve ever seen, from hand-woven quilts to genuine rustic furniture and Western-inspired art.

9 – Go Texan Days and the Downtown Races and Parade

Go Texan Days and the parade
Trail riders, Western attire, and BBQ excitement mark the kickoff to the iconic Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo!

Houstonians enjoy the Rodeo so much that the city and county declare Go Texan Day in honor of the event. On Go Texas Day, hundreds of trail riders arrive in Houston in horseback caravans from around Texas, Louisiana and Oklahoma. It’s a gentle nod to our cultural identity and our historical roots, so attending the parade and dressing up in casual, subtle Western attire while out and about is great fun.

Go Texas Day kicks off the start of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, the day before the Rodeo Parade and Rodeo Run in downtown Houston and the opening day of the World Championship of Bar-B-Que at Reliant Park.

10 – Houston nightlife

Explore Houston’s vibrant nightlife at the Hideaway for live music and dancing, then head to Midtown for after-hours adventures.

So, if those attractions still aren’t enough, 2023 Rodeo Houston time is perfect for checking out Houston’s nightlife after the nightly concerts finish. On the Houston Rodeo grounds, the Hideaway offers live music and dancing after the Rodeo concert. After the Hideaway closes, we recommend Midtown for after-hours fun.

What Do I Wear to Houston Rodeo?

Nearly everyone wears Western attire to Rodeo Houston. For men, this tends to be a Western button down shirt, jeans, cowboy and boots. Women tend to wear the same, but dresses with hats and boots are common. Even the kids dress like cowboys and cowgirls!

Here are some local shops where you can complete your Western look for Houston Rodeo:

More About Mutton Bustin’ at Houston Rodeo

Tiny cowgirls and cowboys take on the sheep rodeo challenge at the Houston Rodeo, laughter guaranteed!

Mutton Bustin’, a staple event at many rodeos, offers a unique opportunity for young children to experience the thrill and excitement of Rodeo participation. The event involves children, typically aged between four to six, attempting to hold onto a sheep for as long as possible while it runs. The announcer will share details about each young cowgirl and cowboy as they compete. The young athletes wear protective gear and mount the sheep in the chutes before racing across the corral. Expect to laugh until you cry.

Here’s what you need to know to enter your kid in Mutton Bustin’ at Rodeo Houston:

  • Athletes must be between 5 and 6 years old, and no more than 55 pounds.
  • No prior experience or gear is required.
  • Open competitions are held hourly in the Carnival for $20.

Learn about where to stay and park for Houston Rodeo. See you at the Rodeo, y’all!

Check out more things to do in Houston:

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