The Houston Art Car Parade returns to the streets after a 2-year hiatus

Houston Art Car Parade / Photo credit: Morris Malakoff, courtesy of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art

One of the city’s largest free public events, Houston’s annual Art Car Parade returns to its traditional format this year for the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic.

In 2020, as COVID first hit the U.S., the Houston Art Car Parade went virtual by broadcasting and streaming footage of past parades and interviews with artists. In 2021, the parade was reimagined as a self-guided tour of art cars on the grounds of The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, which produces the event.

Now it its 35th edition, the 2022 parade is back to its processional format and will take place alongside a four-day weekend of in-person events, April 7 – 10. The additional events include both free and ticketed festivities, such as “The Legendary Art Car Ball,” mini-art car parades at schools and community centers, The Kids Zone at Sam Houston Park, and the Art Car Parade Awards Ceremony.

The signature parade will roll down Allen Parkway and Downtown Houston on Saturday, April 9 with roughly 250 art cars – featuring “slab cars born out of Houston’s unique contribution to American car culture” and “more than 100 new and never-before-seen Art Cars from around the country,” according to a press release.

Houston Art Car Parade / Photo credit: Morris Malakoff, courtesy of the Orange Show Center for Visionary Art

This year’s parade weekend is dedicated to Ann Harithas – a local artist, curator, art collector, and patron, who passed away on December 23, 2021 at the age of 80.

Harithas is “credited with organizing one of the first public exhibitions of Art Cars in Houston in the early 1980s, resulting in a wave of Art Cars being seen on Houston streets,” said parade organizers in a statement. Starting this year, the parade’s grand prize will also be permanently named the Ann Harithas Legacy Award.

Organizers say that the event will continue its tradition of giving students opportunities to design and build art cars through a partnership between The Orange Show and Houston Independent School District.

A complete schedule of events is available on the Houston Art Car Parade’s website.

The parade weekend is sponsored by local auto retailer Team Gillman.

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