29 Best Things to do at the Houston Rodeo

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Planning to visit the Houston Rodeo?

The Annual Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the iconic events in the Bayou City.

It is also one of the largest and most popular rodeos in the United States.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the best things to do in Houston
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the best things to do in Houston

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is held annually in Houston, Texas, and attracts over two million visitors each year.

The event includes a rodeo, concert series, livestock show, carnival, barbecue cook-off, trail ride, mutton bustin’, and more. 

Texas themed boots on boot row
Texas themed boots on boot row

Here’s everything you need to know about this time-honored tradition.

Read our post on Best Things to do in Houston to know more about attractions such as NASA’s Space Center Houston and the Museum district.

History of the Houston Rodeo

Here’s a brief history of the origins of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.

The Houston Rodeo celebrates Western Heritage of Texas
The Houston Rodeo celebrates Western Heritage of Texas

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo began as a small gathering of ranchers and farmers in 1932.

The event was created to showcase the area’s livestock industry and to provide a venue for competition among local ranchers.

The first Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo was held at the Sam Houston Coliseum with just over 3,000 attendees and 700 animals. 

Turkey legs are a must at the Houston Rodeo
Turkey legs are a must at the Houston Rodeo

Over the years, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo has grown significantly in size and scope.

Today, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is one of the largest rodeos in the United States.

Also Read: One Day in Houston Itinerary

Houston Rodeo Dates 2023

The Rodeo usually begins last week of February / first week of March.

Attend the opening day festivities to get freebies and more
Attend the opening day festivities to get freebies and more

The pre Rodeo events take place the week before opening day.

Wondering, When does the rodeo end in Houston?

The event lasts for three weeks from the opening day.

The 2023 Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo will be held from Tuesday, Feb 28 – Sunday, March 19, 2023.

Stunning quilts woven for the Rodeo quilt contest
Stunning quilts woven for the Rodeo quilt contest

Where is the Houston Rodeo held?

The Rodeo takes place in downtown Houston at the NRG Park every year.

NRG Park has multiple venues: concerts and rodeos are held inside the covered NRG Stadium, which can accommodate up to 71,500 spectators.

Other events and exhibitions take place in the NRG Arena and NRG Center.

The carnival rides and food courts are located in the outdoor areas of the NRG Park.

NRG Stadium is where the rodeo and concerts take place
NRG Stadium is where the rodeo and concerts take place

Houston Rodeo Time and Hours

NRG Park, Carnival, and NRG Center events are all day events.

Check out the Carnival calendar here.

The rodeo and concerts take place in the evening.

Look at the schedule on the website for performances here.

NRG Center is home o many free activities and can be accessed using grounds ticket
NRG Center is home o many free activities and can be accessed using grounds ticket

Houston Rodeo Prices

Understanding the Houston Rodeo tickets is a bit difficult for first timers.

Grounds Ticket

The grounds ticket gives you access to NRG Center, NRG Park where the Carnival is held, and NRG Arena.

You can also visit the Horse Show on a Rodeo Grounds Ticket.

Visitors can purchase tickets online or at the entrance
Visitors can purchase tickets online or at the entrance

Grounds Season Pass

The grounds season pass is a better deal than buying individual tickets.

It gives you access to all the Texas-sized attractions at NRG Park (except Rodeo and Concerts).

It also gives entry to the BBQ Cookoff.

The season pass for adults pays itself if you visit at least thrice while the season pass for kids pays itself on 5+ visits.

Bluebonnet boot on Boot Row at the Houston Rodeo
Bluebonnet boot on Boot Row at the Houston Rodeo

Rodeo and Concert Ticket

If you want to see a particular entertainer or see the rodeo events, then you need to purchase a Rodeo and Concert Ticket for that day.

The concert is right after the rodeo.

They also provide access to all NRG Park, NRG Arena, and NRG Center activities mentioned above.

These tickets are more expensive than the Grounds tickets with the farthest seating starting at $25.

Shop for leather goods and more at the NRG Center
Shop for leather goods and more at the NRG Center

Expect to pay a lot more >$100 for good seats for popular performers.

Rodeo and Concert Season Pass

The most expensive tickets of them all!

The Rodeo and Concert Season Pass gives you access to all the rodeo events, concerts, and NRG Park activities.

This will be the best deal if you’re a fan of both Country Music as well as Rodeo Events!

Quilts displayed at NRG Center at the rodeo art gallery
Quilts displayed at NRG Center at the rodeo art gallery

Carnival Tickets

While the grounds as well as Rodeo tickets provide access to the carnival, you will need to purchase separate Houston Rodeo carnival tickets to sit in the rides or play games.

Each game/ride costs about 8 to 14 tickets for most attractions.

We recommend keeping aside a minimum of 60 to 80 tickets to enjoy per person on one visit.

The junction has a variety of rides for kids of all ages
The junction has a variety of rides for kids of all ages

Food Tickets

Food tickets are used to purchase food and drinks at any of the concession stands.

You can buy them in bundles of 10 or 20 tickets and they cost around $1 per ticket.

We usually spend about $50 worth on food per person on one visit.

Eat variety of fair foods at the Rodeo
Eat variety of fair foods at the Rodeo

Houston Rodeo Budgeting

That’s right, the rodeo easily gets expensive.

We recommend keeping a budget of $80 – $100 per person at a minimum, when planning your trip.

If you plan to go frequently – you can save per trip by purchasing the season pass as well as half price food and carnival packs.

You will easily need 8 to 14 carnival tickets per attraction
You will easily need 8 to 14 carnival tickets per attraction

Free and Discounted entry

The Rodeo has certain days reserved for free and discounted tickets such as First Responders Day and a Community Day, which will be held for the first time in 2023.

These are great ways to save.

Houston Rodeo Parking

Parking can be a real nuisance at the Rodeo, so make sure to arrive early or plan ahead.

Parking tram takes guests to the entrance
A Parking tram takes guests to the entrance

Parking gets full closer to the evening performances, if you are arriving around mid-day then you should easily find spots.

Our favorite is the yellow lot, which is closest to the NRG Park and Stadium.

After parking your car, you can easily take a tram from the parking lot to the Rodeo grounds.

Be prepared to pay $25+ for parking in the lots.

Grounds ticket provide admission to NRG Park
Grounds ticket provide admission to NRG Park

Best Times to Visit Houston Rodeo

To skip crowds, we recommend going early at start times.

Also try to avoid spring break week as it can get really crazy there.

Generally, the first week is a great time to visit.

Ride the carousel with kids
Ride the carousel with kids

Things to do at the Houston Rodeo for Kids

Wondering what to do at the Houston rodeo for kids as well as families?

The Houston Rodeo has plenty of family friendly events as well as special attractions for kids.

The two main areas to visit with kids are: Junction in NRG park and AGVENTURE in NRG Center.

The grounds are very stroller friendly, here are the very best of things to do at Houston Rodeo with kids.

Entrance to the Carnival
Entrance to the Carnival

Visit the petting zoo

Both Junction and AGVENTURE have petting zoos.

The petting zoo includes chickens, sheep, goats, and more.

Kids love to get up close and personal with these animals.

Kids love the petting zoo at the rodeo
Kids love the petting zoo at the rodeo

Watch baby animals being born

AGVENTURE has plenty of kid-friendly attractions.

Our favorite is the birthing center, where kids can learn more about the life cycle of farm animals and see just born babies.

Topiaries at the Rodeo grounds
Topiaries at the Rodeo grounds

Enjoy the other activities at AGVENTURE

Besides the birthing center, there are plenty of agriculture oriented activities at AGVENTURE.

Kids can learn about earthworms and honeybees, see rabbits, watch cows being milked, and see take pony rides.

The attractions are located in Hall A of the NRG Center.

AGVENTURE has several kid friendly activities
AGVENTURE has several kid friendly activities

Try your hand at Mutton Bustin’

This is one of the more popular attractions for kids at the rodeo.

Kids compete against each other in a sheep riding competition which is great fun for everyone involved.

Kids that are 5-7 years old can try Mutton bustin’ if they fit within the weight range.

Mutton Bustin is one of the most popular events at the Junction at Houston Rodeo
Mutton Bustin is one of the most popular events at the Junction at Houston Rodeo

Enjoy the carnival rides

The carnival is located in the Midway area outside of NRG Stadium.

It’s filled with fun activities like rides, games, and food stands.

There are several rides including safe ones for toddlers as well as thrilling ones for older kids.

Carousel rides are lots of fun for the littles
Carousel rides are lots of fun for the littles

Ride the antique carousel in the Junction

The Junction is a more chilled area at the rodeo.

Kids can enjoy a ride on the antique carousel which is a highlight.

This area also has plenty of activities for children.

There are several amazing rides at the Carnival
There are several amazing rides at the Carnival

Try the pony rides

The pony rides are a great way to get your kids involved with the rodeo experience.

The ponies are very friendly and well trained, they will take your child on a slow ride.

See the pig races

The pig races are a must see and one of the top free things to do at the Houston Rodeo!

Kids love to watch the pigs race against each other, adding a little friendly competition to their day.

Pig Races are beloved by all at the Houston Rodeo
Pig Races are beloved by all at the Houston Rodeo

Stop by Fun on the Farm

This area is geared towards children 7 and under.

It teaches the kids about farm life and there are plenty of interactive activities.

Kids can feed the animals, plant vegetables, and more.

Fun on the Farm is a favorite with kids at the Houston Rodeo
Fun on the Farm is a favorite with kids at the Houston Rodeo

See the Extreme Dogshow

This show is one of the most popular attractions at the Houston Rodeo.

Dogs and their owners perform incredible stunts that will amaze everyone in the audience.

The dogs are very talented and they put on a great show!

Kids can play carnival games to win prizes
Kids can play carnival games to win prizes

Things to do at the Houston Rodeo for Couples and Grownups

Whether you’re a rodeo aficionado or a first-time spectator, you’ll find plenty of things to do at the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo for adults.

Here are our favorite attractions that bring us back year after year.

Attend the Rodeo Roundup

The celebration kickoffs every year on Go Texan Day – which this year is on Feb 23, 2023.

Carnival games and rides are the best things to do at the Houston Rodeo
Carnival games and rides are the best things to do at the Houston Rodeo

The Rodeo Roundup is a free admission event that takes place at the City Hall where the Mayor traditionally kicks off the event.

At the event you can enjoy free bbq sandwiches, spot a majestic Texas Longhorn Steer or two, and dance to live music.

See the trail riders

Trail riders are a Houston Rodeo icon.

Houston Rodeo Parade trail riders
Houston Rodeo Parade trail riders

The trail rides, resembling the cattle drives of Texas, are events where riders astride their horses raise awareness of the Rodeo.

Their arrival in Houston from all over the state and beyond is a highly anticipated event.

The trail riders head to overnight campy at Memorial Park and also participate in the Rodeo Parade.

Trail Riders are one of the most cheered and historic part of the Rodoe Parade in Houston
Trail Riders are one of the most cheered and historic part of the Rodeo Parade in Houston

Participate in the Rodeo Run

The Rodeo Run is a 5K and 10K race that takes place in downtown Houston before the parade.

It’s a great way to get moving while enjoying activities such as live music, entertainment, and more.

Go early to cheer the Rodeo Run participants
Go early to cheer the Rodeo Run participants

Attend the Downtown Houston Rodeo Parade

The annual Houston downtown Rodeo parade is held the Saturday before the Rodeo officially kicks off.

You can expect to see floats, horses and riders, fire engines, cowboys, cowgirls, marching bands and more go by.

It’s a great way to get in the Rodeo spirit.

The Rodeo Parade showcases Texas Western heritage
The Rodeo Parade showcases Texas Western heritage

Enjoy the BBQ cookoff

The Houston Rodeo’s barbecue cook-off, featuring some of Texas’ best pitmasters, is world famous!

The event features a variety of competitions, as well as delicious food and drink.

Whether you’re a BBQ aficionado or just looking to sample some amazing eats, the cook-off is a must visit.

Dinosaur Ribs and BBQ Pulled Pork sandwich at Blacks BBQ
Delicious BBQ

Participate in opening day festivities

The official Opening Day of the Houston Rodeo is a big event in itself, featuring everything from live music to trick roping demonstrations.

2023 Opening day highlights include a free Howdy bobblehead to first 10000 visitors and an opening day parade.

It’s a great way to get excited for the events that will follow and celebrate the start of rodeo season!

Opening day parade at the Houston Rodeo
Opening day parade at the Houston Rodeo

Take a picture with giant boots for the ‘gram!

At the entrance near the Champion Wine Garden, you will find Boot Row.

This iconic exhibit features giant 6 feet tall cowboy boots and is a great spot for selfies.

The colorful boots are painted with various Texas and Houston themed murals.

Be sure to snap a picture of your group with the boots in the background for Instagram!

Boot Row at the Houston Rodeo
Boot Row at the Houston Rodeo

Watch the classic Rodeo events

The rodeo is one of the main attractions, of course!

While Rodeo food, carnival rides, and concerts are a big part – the highlight of the event are the actual Rodeo events.

Be sure to check the schedule for popular events such as barrel racing, bull riding, calf roping, and tie-down roping.

The Rodeo has many classic events and competitions
The Rodeo has many classic events and competitions

Photo-ops Galore!

With all the fun activities and events going on, there are many photo opportunities throughout the Houston Rodeo.

From interactive art installations to giant statues of rodeo animals, you can find plenty of ways to capture memories and share them with your friends and family.

The Rodeo has plenty of photo ops
The Rodeo has plenty of photo ops

See the concerts

In addition to the rodeo events, there are also nightly concerts featuring some of today’s biggest music stars.

Past performers have included everyone from Taylor Swift to George Strait.

The rodeo and concert tickets get sold out in advance, so be on the watch in January.

NRG Stadium is an excellent venue
NRG Stadium is an excellent venue

Dance at the Hideout

Need to relax with some dance and music but the rodeo tickets are out of your budget?

The Hideout, located within the NRG Park, is your best bet.

The Hideout offers free admission and great music from both local and national acts.

It’s the perfect place to get your feet moving while you enjoy a cold beer or two!

See sunset at the fairgrounds
See sunset at the fairgrounds

View the livestock

The Rodeo livestock show showcases animals from all over Texas.

You can observe cows, horses, pigs, chickens and more up close.

The livestock show is a great way to get an appreciation for the animals that make rodeo events possible!

Livestock at the Rodeo
Livestock at the Rodeo

Enjoy the carnival thrills

Located outside in NRG Park, you will find a large carnival with rides and games for kids as well as adults of all ages.

The carnival is open from noon to midnight and has something for everyone.

From roller coasters to Ferris wheels, you can find plenty of thrills and chills!

Sit on the Ferris wheel to get a birds eye view of the Rodeo
Sit on the Ferris wheel to get a birds eye view of the Rodeo

Sample delicious Rodeo food

No visit to the Rodeo is complete without trying delicious Rodeo food.

From loaded nachos to funnel cakes and all sorts of deep fried treats, you’ll be sure to find something delicious!

Opt for the turkey leg or find something exotic like rattlesnake kebabs and alligator sausage.

Try a variety of delicious food at the Houston Rodeo
Try a variety of delicious food at the Houston Rodeo

Go shopping for boots, hats, and Texan souvenirs

The Houston Rodeo offers plenty of shopping opportunities.

You can find everything from bedazzled cowboy boots to Rodeo themed t-shirts, hats and other souvenirs.

It’s a great way to commemorate your visit!

Enjoy shopping at the Rodeo
Enjoy shopping at the Rodeo

Sip wine at the Champion Wine Garden

The Champion Wine Garden is the perfect spot to relax and unwind during your visit.

You can sample some of Texas’ finest wines, beers and spirits as you enjoy live music and people watch.

It’s a great way to take a break from all the excitement!

Sip award winning wines at the Championship Wine Garden
Sip award winning wines at the Championship Wine Garden

Browse the Rodeo art gallery

The Rodeo art gallery inside NRG Center showcases amazing artwork from local school kids as well as quilts and more by adults.

The art emphasizes the culture and heritage of Texas and all it has to offer!

Rodeo art work by school children across Houston and suburbs
Rodeo art work by school children across Houston and suburbs

Enjoy performances at the Stars over Texas Stage

The Stars over Texas Stage features a variety of free performances, from country to rock music.

It’s a great way to discover some new talent or see your favorite performers up close!

Stars over Texas stage has free fun performances
Stars over Texas stage has free fun performances

Collect free swag and souvenirs

The Houston Rodeo is a great place to collect freebies and souvenirs.

You can pick up a free Rodeo posters, bandannas, lanyard and koozie at the front gates.

Be sure to take advantage of these free items before they’re gone!

Rodeo has photo ops galore
Rodeo has photo ops galore

What to wear to the Houston Rodeo

Houston Rodeo is the ultimate Wild West event in the Lone Star State.

This is the perfect opportunity to show off your cowboy boots, studded leather jackets, and cowboy hats.

However, remember that the weather can get quite warm and even hot at times.

Buy hats and other western wear at the Rodeo
Buy hats and other western wear at the Rodeo

Significance of the Houston Rodeo

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is a showcase of Western heritage and culture.

For many Texans, the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is more than just a fun event to attend; it’s a cherished tradition that brings people together from all walks of life.

It is also one of the largest economic drivers in the city of Houston, supporting the local economy and providing jobs.

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo brings many jobs to the city
The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo brings many jobs to the city

The event is particularly important for young people who participate in FFA programs.

For many of these kids, participating in the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo is their one chance to compete on a big stage in front of thousands of spectators. 

A large part of the proceeds go towards supporting youth education in Texas.

The Rodeo provides millions of dollars in scholarships for Texas students each year. 

The Houston Rodeo is a great fun event for the entire family
The Houston Rodeo is a great fun event for the entire family

The Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo features a wide variety of events and attractions for visitors of all ages.

If you’re looking for a fun-filled event that celebrates all things Western, be sure to check out the Rodeo during your next visit to Houston!

What are your favorite fun things to do at Rodeo Houston? Let us know below.

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