Rodeo Houston! The big event is from February 28 – March 19, 2023… with events starting the weeks before the show.
Whether you go every year or are new to Houston’s big event… here are the important dates and tips to get you ready to take the kids.
And, as always, we'd appreciate any new information you have on Rodeo Houston 2023. Leave us a comment!
Pre-Rodeo Houston Events
1. Bar-B-Que Contest – February 23-25, 2023
The public is invited to the Bar-B-Que Contest and can go the carnival and get complimentary sliced brisket, beans and chips. Admission is $20 for adults or $10 for kids 3-12 years old. Admission is included with the $50 season pass (so if you plan to visit the grounds multiple times during the season, get the season pass instead).
Also, the carnival is open during the cookoff... and there are usually no lines!
2. Rodeo Roundup – Friday, February 24, 2023
This free event is at City Hall. Here you can grab a free lunch, dance to live music, take photos with a Texas Longhorn steer and learn about your Rodeo’s contributions to the community.
3. Trail Rides – Friday, February 24, 2023
All trail rides make their way to Memorial Park. The routes are HERE!
4. Go Texan Day – Friday, February 24, 2023
Go Texan Day is the unofficial kickoff of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Residents are encouraged to wear Western attire, such as jeans, cowboy boots and cowboy hats.
5. Rodeo Parade – Saturday, February 25, 2023
Decorative floats intermingle with thousands of men and women on horseback to fill the streets with hoof beats and marching bands. The parade starts at 10:00am, but get there early to find parking.
6. Rodeo Run – Saturday, February 25, 2022
Run for a cause! Proceeds from the event benefit the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo.
****Also, during the pre-rodeo season, be sure to buy your discount carnival packs. They are not available once rodeo starts.****
Rodeo Houston Events
The Rodeo and Livestock Show is open daily, February 28 – March 19, 2023. You can get general admission tickets to visit the Livestock Show and Carnival... or you can buy Rodeo/Concert tickets to do it all. (It is one or the other... do not buy both!)
Each year, we buy the general admission season pass (for the grounds and not for the concerts) and go in the morning. Right at 8:00am we tour the Livestock Show, watch the chicks hatch from their eggs and get to see everything before the crowds arrive. At 9:00am, the petting zoo and rabbit house opens and at 10:00am we head to Fun on the Farm.
By the time the field trips and crowds are at Rodeo Houston, we’re heading home for naps. And some days we bring the big kids back after school.
Here’s what you need to know if you plan to go to the Rodeo Houston this year.
- Ticket prices have gone up this year. General Admission is $20 for adults, $10 for kids, free for kids under 2 years old. If you have a concert ticket, you do not need a general admission ticket (so do NOT buy both).
- For $5 more than the adult general admission ticket, you can buy a Rodeo ticket, and enjoy the grounds, plus rodeo and concert.
- Since we go a lot, we buy the general admission season pass. This year it is $50. Note that this also gets you daily admission to World’s Championship Bar-B-Que Contest (before the Rodeo/Livestock show). This does not get you into the concert.
- March 8 is Community Day and everyone gets free admission until noon. The celebration includes buy one get one rides and games, discounted food and beverage offerings and community activations.
- March 1 and 15 are still Family Wednesdays. I don't see it on the website, but we went on March 1 and kids got in free until noon. There was also buy one get one free rides at the carnival (which is not the same as half off... and only works for even numbers!).
- Parking lots are around $20… so we take METRORail. It is only $1.25 for anyone older than 5 and it drops you off right at the rodeo ticket booth.
- Parking is available up and down the tracks. We park in the museum district.
Free Activities Inside Rodeo Houston
You could spend a lot of money at Rodeo Houston... but you don't have to. Once inside, there are tons of free things to do.
- Kids Country opens at 9:00am, Fun on the Farm opens at 10:00am and the carnival opens at 10:00/11:00am, but AgVenture has a lot to see at 8:00am. While the rodeo is waking up, the vendors and shops are still getting ready for the day and the field trips are still preparing to take over the park, we have some room to run around the birthing center, rabbits, bees and ant hill. We can see the baby chicks poking out of their eggs and the baby pigs sleeping.
- These free activities are open every day at Rodeo Houston:
- Fun on the Farm – This might be our favorite part of rodeo! Kids get to plant seeds, feed chickens, collect wool, milk cows and sell their products at market, “buy” a small treat with their earnings and put some “money” in the bank…. and it’s free! (If you see a field trip going through, give it a minute and you’ll find some space to get through a little quicker!) This opens at 10:00am each day.
- Stars Over Texas Stage – All day you can catch kid friendly shows under the tent. There are sing-alongs, animal acts and more. We saw our first sloth here!
- Petting Zoo -Feeding the animals costs a few dollars… but the petting zoo is free! If you go early in the morning, you will probably have the space to yourself.
- Pig Races – Watch the piglets race around a 150 foot track.
- Livestock Show – Walk through the rows of cows in the back of the NRG Center or sit and watch the competitions!
- Horse Show – On the opposite side of NRG Park, away from the Kids Carnival, is the Horse Arena. This is sort of a secret spot at the rodeo because most people are on the other side of the park. The NRG Arena has shopping, stalls of horses to walk through and a competition to watch.
- AGventure Honeybees – Walk through a hive and watch honey bees!
- AGventure Milking Parlor – See where milk comes from!
Rodeo Houston Carnival
- Half Price Carnival Tickets are ONLINE. Download the "Rodeo Carnival" App, and then buy your tickets. You can send the tickets to your smartphone and skip Will Call. (Note: Half Price Tickets are only available to buy before Rodeo starts!)
- Community Day is March 8 and everyone gets free admission until noon. The celebration includes buy one get one rides and games, discounted food and beverage offerings and community activations. March 1 and 15 are Family Days and kids get in free until noon... and there are also buy one get one free rides and games.
- Outside food is not allowed into the stadium for the concert… but it is allowed on the grounds for kids.
- This is what I RodeoHouston told me when I asked for the millionth time:
- Questions Questions@hlsr.com - Howdy! Thank you for contacting the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo. Yes, outside food and drinks are allowed inside NRG Park. However; food and drinks are prohibited in the Stadium. Please note, if you do decide to bring food with you, all bags are subject to a search. Respectfully, Houston Livestock Show & Rodeo Team
- The catch is… each year I get reports from people saying food was not allowed. I think that the security guards were confused… but still… be safe and just bring in a little food so you won’t be sad to throw it out.
- Also, my unscientific experiment is that, last year, the security on the north side of the park (by McNee) was okay with me bringing in water and snacks. The security on the east/south side (by the train tracks) gave me more trouble about all of it... but finally let me bring it in for the toddler.
- There is some fantastic food and some crazy food at the rodeo. (Like hot Cheetos on everything, Fruity Pebble crusted shrimp, fried everything...). If you are going to buy food, plan on at least $10 per dish and $4 for drinks.
- Gold Buckle Foodie Awards will be announced once rodeo starts. You can find last year's winners HERE.
- UPDATE 3/23:
- I just got this email: "Because of what was stated on your website post, i brought my giant hydroflasks with me. when i arrived, they told me i COULDNT bring them in and to just retrieve it when i go home. when i went to retrieve them as i was leaving, i was told that they had CONFISCATED and THROWN AWAY all my expensive flasks. i lost $100 because of you. change the blog post you thief"
- So, let me update the post: I am sorry that someone lost their hydroflask. This would also upset me. The bullet above in bold has not changed in years. Bring in food and water but be prepared to throw it away. Also, know that for 2023 I did bring in snacks and water for the kids, in the stroller, and no one gave me trouble at the NcNee entrance... and same for the METRORail entrance.
Rodeo And Concerts
- We only go to one rodeo and concert each year… so we’re not even close to experts… but I do know…
- The 2023 line up is HERE.
- No outside food is allowed in the stadium. Even if you buy BBQ at the Rodeo, you need to finish it before going to the stadium.
- Weekday rodeos start at 6:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately 2 hours later.
- Weekend rodeos start at 3:45 p.m. The entertainer takes the stage at approximately 2 hours later.
- A couple of the concerts have different start times, so confirm before you go.
- I've been able to push in strollers in the past (and stow them when I get close to my seat).
Rain at the Rodeo
So, here’s the thing… it rains a lot in Houston. And it makes your boots a little wet at Rodeo Houston… but it also helps keep the crowds away.
So if you are not determined to visit the carnival rides, you can find A LOT of indoor things to do!
- Many of the restaurants are under tents or inside the NRG Center (by the Livestock Show).
- Rodeo & Concert
- The rodeo and the concert are inside the covered NRG Stadium.
- First is the rodeo… followed by the concert.
- If you get a ticket for the show, you do not need to buy a separate general admission ticket.
- Inside the NRG Center, you can do A LOT of things.
- See honeybees, stop by the petting zoo, see chicks hatching, pet rabbits, see the baby animals, plant a sunflower… and more!
- Petting Zoo
- There are two petting zoos. One is inside AGventure and one is outside, covered by tent.
- Livestock Show
- Walk through the back of NRG Center or sit and watch the competitions!
- Horse Show
- On the opposite side of NRG Park, away from the Kids Carnival, is the Horse Arena.
- This is sort of a secret spot at the rodeo because most people are on the other side of the park.
- The NRG Arena has shopping, stalls of horses to walk through and a competition to watch.
- Stars Over Texas Stage
- This stage has kid friendly shows all day long. It’s covered by a giant tent.
- If the rain is terrible, you might want to stay inside… but if it’s just wet, find a seat at the interactive shows.
- Pig Races
- Watch the piglets race around a 150 foot track. It's covered by a giant tent.
- If the rain lets up a little, head outside to our favorite Fun on the Farm.
- Kids get to plant seeds, feed chickens, collect wool, milk cows and sell their products at market, “buy” a small treat with their earnings and put some “money” in the bank…. and it’s free!
- It's not fully covered, but if there is just a light drizzle you can hustle between the barns.
More Tidbits about Rodeo Houston
Here are some cool things we've found in the past. (And no, they are not secret, but they are a little harder to find!)
- Baby Station – New in the last few years, this is a pod in NRG Center near the Livestock Show. It’s a cool little room for moms to feed their babies in private.
- Bargain Barn – In past years, this is where to find Rodeo Houston hats and shirts for $10 (and jackets/sweatshirts for $15). These are from last year but don’t have a year listed on them… and are cheaper than the other Rodeo Houston stores!