According to the 2016 Census data, the Houston metro immigrant population makes up about 23.3% of the total population, but that isn’t counting the second, third, or fourth generation families who are still deeply tied to their cultural roots. Houston’s status as an international city has garnered quite a bit of media buzz of late for the cultural diversity reflected in the colorful cuisine of its thriving multi-billion-dollar food industry. Every year, thousands take to the streets to celebrate the traditions, history, art, customs, and perhaps most importantly—the food—of Houston’s varied population.
Taking place on the grounds of The University of Saint Thomas from October 11th-14th, Festa Italiana is celebrating its 40th year in action. With a traditional feature of sidewalk art contests, attendees can also expect a classic car show, a bocce tournament, traditional marionette puppet shows, a grape-stomping contest, and live music. Dancers perform Tarantella, the traditional folk dance of Sicily. Tarantella translates to “tarantula” because the dance is done by everyone in a large circle wearing classical costumes. If you’re not too stuffed from the incredible offerings of gelato, pizza, and traditional Neapolitan street food, there’s also a pasta-eating contest.
Celebrating 10 years running this weekend is Houston’s annual Korean festival at Discovery Green downtown. Be sure to bring your appetite in tow, as vendors will dot the park with delicious and spicy offerings representing different provinces throughout Korea. Funded in part by the City of Houston through Houston Arts Alliance, the Houston Korean Festival is free to all attendees and will transform Discovery Green into a Korean folk village where visitors can create origami, learn Korean calligraphy and Hangul, stop for a quick game of Jegi Chagi or Yut Nori before you shop for souvenirs at the traditional Korean craft booth, or even try your hand (and stomach) at the kimchi-eating contest set to a soundtrack of bubbly K-pop.
On October 27th, Midtown Park will host the annual Puerto Rican, Cuban, and Dominican Festival. With over 20,000 attendees every year, this festival enlightens and educates through traditional dance, folk art, music, and food. Not just an educational display for the city, Festival Puertorriqueño & Cubano is a celebration within the Spanish Caribbean community that empowers the youth to embrace their proud heritage and identity. Food trucks and vendors will be showcasing a variety of regional dishes with the traditional influences of Native Taíno, Spanish, African, Mesoamerican, and Caribbean cuisines. Over 100 musicians and dancers will be performing everything from Conga to Batucada Boricua.