Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo: March 3-22. The parade begins at 10 a.m. on Saturday, March 1, while the pre-rodeo World Championship Bar-B-Que Contest runs February 28-March 1. Visit www.rodeohouston.com, or call  667-1080. Rodeo admission prices range $16-$300.
If you're headed to the rodeo, pick a hotel within walking distance of Houston's METRORail. A day pass costs $2, and, even if you stay downtown, you're an easy 30-minute ride from Reliant Park. Our favorites include Hotel ICON at 220 Main Street, Alden-Houston at 1117 Prairie Street, and Hotel ZaZa at 5701 Main Street.
by Cassandra M. Vanhooser/ Photography by Gary Clark
Wine lovers, take note. The Rodeo Uncorked! events, part of the Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo’s newest offerings, are quickly becoming some of the most popular in town. Panels of independent judges monitored by PricewaterhouseCoopers select the winners of the International Wine Competition in November. Those with a ticket to the Roundup and Best Bites Competition, held in the Astrodome two weeks before the rodeo starts, get to sample the winning wines before they’re sold at the Champion Wine Auction and Dinner on March 8. Five years ago when this event started, there were only 54 wineries in the Lone Star State, notes Tim Dodd, director of Texas Tech University’s Wine Marketing Research Institute. Now, that number tops 130. Last year’s competition featured 1,500 entries from 443 wineries in 16 countries. The auction raised $775,500. "In this competition, Texas wines go head-to-head with the best wines in the world," says committee vice chairperson Carol Sawyer. "They have definitely been holding their own." In 2007, six Texas wines won gold medals with Messina Hof Riesling Late Harvest Angel 2005 receiving a coveted "Double Gold" honor. "Someday we’re going to fill the Astrodome with wine lovers," says Messina Hof Winery & Resort co-owner and winemaker Paul Bonarrigo. "A little bit of wine makes you dream."
"The Biggest Party in Houston" is from the February 2008 issue of Southern Living. Because prices, dates, and other specifics are subject to change, please check all information to make sure it's still current before making your travel plans.