Houston Livestock Show Rodeo 2023's Top Things To Do with Kids

Mutton Bustin' is always a crowd favorite. Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
Mutton Bustin' is always a crowd favorite. Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
2/5/23 - By Carrie Taylor

The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo runs February 28 - March 19, 2023. However, amid all the excitement that rodeo brings, even veteran rodeo attendees know that donning those cowboy boots and braving the crowds and traffic are still daunting tasks. And when you get there it's just so... big. We've broken down some essential information to know before planning your visit.

Check out our Rodeo Houston Guide for more posts on enjoying the rodeo with kids.

We also recommend downloading the RODEOHOUSTON app for maps, schedules, and more (available for both Apple and Android products). 

Houston Livestock Show Rodeo 2023: Top Tips

Catch the Houston Rodeo's Pre-Rodeo Events: Cookoff, Trail Ride, and Parade

The Houston Rodeo Cookoff, aka the World's Championship Bar-B-Que Contest, is a big event in its own right, featuring more than 250 teams competing for the title. The team tents are invite-only, but there are several public venues open, including the kid-friendly carnival. The BBQ contest takes place from Thursday, February 23, 2023 - Saturday, February 25, 2023.


If you're looking for a FREE taste of some of that bbq, head over to Rodeo Roundup at Houston City Hall, where you can get a free bbq chopped sandwich, take in a live music show, and enjoy other fun Go Texan Day festivities.

Technically the trail rides are not an official part of the Houston Rodeo, but they are part of a tradition dating back to 1952 when men traveled on horseback from Brenham to spread word about the rodeo. Now, thousands of men and women ride across what remains of Houston's wilderness to Memorial Park. The Trail Ride is set to arrive in Memorial Park on Friday, February 24, 2023, where there will be an award ceremony at 5 p.m. On Saturday, February 25, 2023, prepare to arrive around 8 a.m. for a massive Houston Rodeo Parade downtown featuring all of the horses, old-fashioned wagons, caravans, and festive floats. Check the website for maps with locations, street closures, and times to catch a glimpse of these time-honored traditions.

RELATED: Attending the Houston Rodeo Cook-Off With Kids

Photo courtesy of Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo

Kid-Friendly Attractions at the Houston Rodeo

The carnival is an obvious hit, with traditional arcade and booth games as well as fun houses and tons of different rides, including the exciting Sky Flyer, Cliff Hanger, and crowd favorite Carousel. Longtime rodeo junkies will remember an area for the smallest cowboys and cowgirls called Kids Country, which has been renamed The Junction. It features smaller rides, games, a farm exhibit, petting zoo, kids' carnival, and more (bonus - this doesn't cost extra and is included in regular rodeo admission, and is home to the rodeo's BEST event, Mutton Bustin'). And finally, inside NRG Center's Hall A is the AGVENTURE, which focuses on agriculture education and has lots of animal exhibits - from the birthing center to a cow-milking parlor to honey bee hives.

Saving Money: Free Activities & Cheap Admission at the Houston Rodeo

A brand-new Community Day has been announced for this year - on Wednesday, March 8, 2023, free admission is available to all guests visiting the grounds before noon. Family Wednesdays, on March 1 and 15, are a great deal, too, offering free NRG Park admission for seniors and kids 12 and under until noon. For these special Wednesdays, until 4 p.m., you get discounted rides along with deals on food or drink items at select food stands in the Junction Carnival. You can also buy half-price carnival packs for games and rides (these things add up!) through February 25, 2023, and once you're inside, there are lots of activities, exhibits, and games that won't cost you a dime. You'll find many free activities inside the children's zone, at The Junction, at Fun on the Farm, in the petting zoo, and at the pig races, and there is live entertainment at the Stars Over Texas Stage. And in terms of food, you can bring in your own snacks (except into the stadium itself). This is huge, people! 

Transportation & Parking at the Houston Rodeo

This is always tricky, so it's best to accept that no matter what route you go you're going to be met with crowds and traffic. After you accept this, then everything becomes much less stressful. The good news is the METRORail is a great option and is free for kids ages 5 and under. There are multiple parking options to choose from, and you can buy the tickets at the platform. Another option is utilizing the park & ride, where there are buses or shuttles that bring you to NRG. Check out the map of participating lots and their differing rates for parking and/or riding here. If driving is your preference, there are three public parking lots to choose from, and we recommend checking out this page for maps to get the lay of the land. However, note that the parking lots cost $25 per car. And finally, the rodeo has great resources for patrons needing handicap-accessible parking options.

Entertainment at the Houston Rodeo

Every night of the rodeo there is a different concert to enjoy. The actual rodeo competition takes place prior to the performance: weekday rodeos start at 6:45 p.m. with the concerts beginning around 8:45 p.m. and weekend rodeos start at 3:45 p.m. with the musical performances beginning around 5:45 p.m.

Special Accommodations

For any moms who are nursing or are in need of a Family Room, there are special Family Rooms located in the lobby of the first floor of NRG Center on the east end and inside Hall E of NRG Center near the restrooms. Additionally, outdoor Family Rooms can be found between NRG Stadium and NRG Astrodome, as well as at the exit of Fun on the Farm.

Houston Rodeo Ticket Information

You can buy tickets for just the carnival and exhibits as well as tickets to include the official rodeo shows and concerts.

  • Grounds admission: $20 (adults), $10 (kids ages 3-12), FREE (kids ages 2 and under) - This price includes livestock show, shopping and exhibits, horse show and events inside the NRG Arena, and admission to the carnival (excludes individual ride and game prices and the rodeo and concert). 
  • Concert and rodeo admission: Tickets start at $25 for individual performances.
  • Season Pass: $50 (includes daily admission to the Bar-B-Que Contest, daily admission to the livestock show, access to all public activities in NRG Park, Center, and Arena; excludes rides, games, the rodeo, and concerts).
  • Resale policy: You cannot resell season passes, and regular tickets must be sold at face value.
  • Carnival rides, games, and food all cost extra.
  • All unused NRG Park Admission Tickets and Ground Season Passes will be valid during the 2023 Rodeo.

Photo courtesy of the Houston Rodeo