6 cool events happening in Houston this weekend

Houston’s a huge town with a wealth of cultural events on any given weekend. Each Thursday, Chron helps you narrow it down with a selection of some of the coolest, most unique activities, from family-friendly festivals to free performances to art openings and more.

Now that the sun has set on another Rodeo, Houston is gearing up for the next major event that will bring thousands to the city and draw huge crowds to NRG stadium: the NCAA men’s basketball tournament, whose Final Four games will be played at the south side arena on April 1 and 3. All of which makes this coming weekend in Houston seem like the eye of the storm. But there’s still plenty to do around town before March Madness spills into early April—especially if your taste in pastimes extends to art, theater, and headbanging. Below, we’ve singled out six local events worth attending.

Nearly 300 artists of various disciplines will show off their work in the recently renovated Memorial Park during this biannual weekend event, one of the country’s largest and most celebrated outdoor art festivals. If you’d rather study a beautiful painting of a bull than watch someone try to ride one, this is basically your Rodeo, down to the variety of other ways to pass the time while you’re on the grounds, including entertainment stages, craft beer gardens, and a fleet of food trucks. The event runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Tickets, which are $20 for general admission (or a lot more for the VIP luxury experience), must be purchased online. Memorial Park, 6501 Memorial Dr.

Whether you’re looking for a free way to experience the city’s vibrant art scene or a new masterpiece to hang above your fireplace, the Houston Art Gallery Association has you covered. Twenty participating galleries all over town will open their doors to the public this weekend, capitalizing on the influx of art lovers (and buyers) coming in for the festival at Memorial Park while offering an affordable alternative to Bayou City’s $20 admission fee. The event runs citywide from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday and from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday, though some of the galleries might have extended hours. Most of them will serve refreshments, too.

While this weekend’s other major art events can’t be beat for sheer quantity of work on display, those seeking a more curated experience might look instead to the Menil Collection—or more specifically, to a new collection within the collection. The Curatorial Imagination of Walter Hopps gathers 130 artworks by 70 artists, all at one point selected for exhibition by Hopps, the late Founding Director of the Menil. It’s effectively a miniature history lesson on the last century of art created in Houston and beyond. Admission is free. Can’t make it this weekend? Don’t worry—the collection will remain open until Sunday, August 13. 1533 Sul Ross St.

Following three weeks of pop and country at the Rodeo, Houston cleanses its musical palette with a concentrated dose of mosh-pit fodder. Returning to the White Oak Music Hall tomorrow night, the now-annual Hell’s Heroes festival offers three days and three stages worth of righteous heavy metal, most of it skewing decidely old-school and riff-heavy. The lineup includes local heroes Helstar, death-metal pioneers Possessed, and plenty of other bands your older brother headbanged to in the mid-’80s. 2915 N Main St.

About 30 years ago, late Pulitzer-winning author Derek Walcott re-envisioned Homer’s famous poem for the stage, condensing its enormous plot into the length of a normal play and giving it a Caribbean makeover. Now the Alley in Houston is reviving the show for a new production—a minimalist take on a legendary epic. It’s The Odyssey as you’ve never seen it before… or at least, since Walcott’s version finished its initial, acclaimed run. The show opens Friday, March 24 and runs until Sunday, April 23. Tickets are available on the theater’s website. 615 Texas Ave.