Everything to Know About the Houston Art Car Parade

4/7/24 - By Kate M

You know it’s spring in Houston when bluebonnets appear and the Art Cars come out of hibernation. If you’ve seen a car covered in purple fur that resembles a cat, a truck transformed into a large iridescent metal robot, or a go-cart as a banana, you’ve spotted an Art Car.

The Houston Art Car Festival and Parade has been held every April since 1988, and it’s the largest free public art event in the Houston. Today, the Art Car Parade is the highlight of a four-day festival. With over 250 entries and an audience of over 300k spectators, it’s become a worldwide phenomenon. 

Read on for the details of The Houston Art Car Parade and festival, which kicks off events on Thursday, April 11, 2024. And for more family-friendly Houston events and activities, check out our list of 100 Things to do in Houston Before Kids Grow Up.


Houston Art Car parade

The Art Car Parade is an iconic Houston event.

What is an Art Car?

Art Cars typically start as an older, used vehicle that an artist transforms into a moving sculpture by modifying the exterior and interior of the vehicle. From beautiful designs to wacky and whimsical creations, the Art Cars are a reflection of creativity and inspiration.

Ways to See Houston Art Cars Up Close

Art Car Sneak Peak at Discovery Green

Thursday, April 11th, 6 pm-10 pm

The Sneak Peek at Discovery Green is one of the first ways for the public to see new entries rolling in this year’s parade. With over 100 Art Cars parked along Avenida Houston and throughout the park, it’s a fantastic opportunity to see the cars up close and meet the artists. This free, family-friendly event also features live music and art activities for kids.

Art Car sneak peek

There are several ways for kids to see Art Cars up close.

The Line-Up Party

Saturday, April 13th, 11 am-2 pm

Before the Art Car Parade, all 250 cars line up and park along Allen Parkway between Taft and Bagby. Guests can stroll the closed-off street and get up-close views of all the cars while listening to live music. It’s quite a bit of walking, so bring a stroller if you need it! And be sure to swing by the HEB Kids Creative zone at 1000 Bagby Street held during the line-up party, with free arts and crafts, performances, and more create activities that kids and adults will all enjoy. 

Art Car Awards Ceremony

Sunday, April 14th, 11am-2 pm

Held at the Orange Show Headquarters, the public is invited to see the Art Cars one last time, meet the artists and celebrate the winners.

Houston Art Car Parade

One of the fantastical creations in the Houston Art Car Parade.

Attending the Houston Art Car Parade

The Houston Art Car Parade kicks off on Saturday, April 13th at 2 pm, with over 250 rolling masterpieces. The parade begins at the intersection of Dallas and Bagby Street at Allen Parkway, heads into downtown, and circles city hall before heading down Allen Parkway. The full parade route can be found here.

Attendees can watch the parade anywhere along the route for free, but there is also reserved grandstand seating available for purchase at $45 an adult and $20 for kids. In addition, there is a VIPit Party that is a fundraiser for The Orange Show for Visionary Arts, and includes complimentary food and beverage, reserved covered seating with incredible views of the parade, entertainment, and art activities for kids. Tickets for the VIPit Party start at $225 for adults and $40 for kids. Tickets to the Art Car Parade can be purchased on The Orange Show’s website.

Know Before You Go to the Houston Art Car Parade

  • The parade lasts about 2 hours, so make sure to bring blankets or soft-sided collapsible chairs to sit on.

  • The parade rolls rain or shine. Wear weather-appropriate clothing, and make sure to bring hats, sunglasses, sunscreen, and water.

  • No pets are allowed along the parade route, so please leave your furry family member at home.

  • Port-a-potties are available along the parade route.

  • An assortment of local food trucks will be stationed throughout the parade route.

  • Parking can be a bit tricky on parade Day. Allen Parkway is closed completely from 7 am-6 pm, along with many of the access streets. If possible, bike from the Heights or Montrose, or rideshare drop off near Allen Parkway. Parking can also be found between Pease and Walker Streets downtown, where garages are near the parade route. There are fees for garage parking. It’s recommended to download the ParkHouston Mobile app to find parking solutions for Parade Day.

  • Don’t forget your camera!

All photos by Danitza Ladwig & Morris Malakoff, courtesy of the Houston Art Car Parade.



Places featured in this article:

Sam Houston Park (The Kids Zone and reserved seating location)