Through sun and rain, the 43rd Houston International Festival shines

Through sun and rain, the 43rd Houston International Festival shines

Through sun and rain, the 43rd Houston International Festival shines


by staff

Posted on May 1, 2013 at 10:24 AM

Updated Wednesday, May 1 at 11:06 AM

Houston, TX, May 1, 2013 – The 2013 Houston International Festival presented a rousing celebration of the culture, music, art, language and cuisine of Brazil as it took over Downtown Houston for two weekends in a row, with an estimated overall attendance of 100,000.

Weekend one opened with perfect weather and brought crowd-pleasing performances by headliners Bootsy Collins, The Wailers and Latin samba star Diogo Nogueira. The second weekend was highlighted by headliner Aaron Neville and festival favorites including SambaDà, Capoeira Luanda, and the high-energy Grupo Fantasma. These headliners and many other performers brought an international flair to the festival’s six stages and beyond through Carnaval-inspired parades, live music, stunning costumes and energetic dance moves.

Last Saturday, the festival opened with large crowds, but the clouds that kept things pleasantly cool in the morning eventually led to rain showers and a deluge in the late afternoon. Despite the rain, many festival-goers stayed long after the the precipitation began, some dancing (with and without umbrellas) to the energetic beat of bands like Rob Curto and Forro Matuto.

Ultimately, heavy rains caused the festival to close early Saturday evening for the safety of festival attendees and participants.

Despite early predictions of more showers, the next day brought clear skies and mild temperatures - the perfect setting to end iFest 2013 on a high note. To help make it possible for those affected by the rain to still enjoy the festival, the Houston International Festival honored Saturday online tickets for the next festival day, and provided rain checks to festival-goers who had to leave the festival early Saturday.

“When it became clear that we needed to close the festival late Saturday for safety reasons due to the heavy rains, we wanted to extend an invitation to return the following day to those who were already at the festival or those who purchased Saturday online tickets and weren’t able to attend,”   said Kim Stoilis, CEO/President of the Houston Festival Foundation, which produces the Festival. “Ultimately, our goal was to ensure, to the best of our ability, that everyone who wished to experience the festival had the chance to.  These rain checks offered an opportunity to demonstrate how much we value the support of Houstonians.”

Throughout the festival, the international markets were filled with unique items ranging from handmade clothing and accessories to colorfully painted artifacts, statues and paintings. Festival families had nonstop access to hands-on fun in the Green Mountain Energy Kids’ World, featuring take-home craft projects, cool, gooey science experiments, fun with Radio Disney and the Houston Dynamo and more. Local restaurants brought their best menu items, making the food variety unmatched; exotic dishes from Brazil, Colombia, China and more made the meals of the festival diverse, unique and tasty, with something for everyone.

Samba dance lessons, Brazilian guitar lessons, and Brazilian cooking demonstrations from H-E-B Cooking Connection and Goya lined up the H-E-B Cultural Stage. On each festival day, the Chevron Brazil Living Museum brought the beautiful culture and history of Brazil to life. At one cultural craft station, visitors were able to make special “wish bracelets” similar to those made in Bahia - the visitor tied a ribbon bracelet with three knots, and legend has it that when the bracelet falls off, the wishes will come true! Other attractions in the Chevron Brazil Living Museum included the opportunity for visitors to mix their own Brazilian spices at the Spice Making stop, design their own watercolor masterpieces and experience a boat-making exhibit and make unique brightly-colored stamp prints. The Chevron Brazil Living Museum also featured a Brazilian-inspired cave made exclusively for the event. The centerpiece of the Chevron Brazil Living Museum was a large replica of the iconic Cristo Redentor statue in Rio de Janiero, (Cristo Redentor is Portuguese for “Christ the Redeemer”.)

“The Chevron Brazil Living Museum was made possible through the generous support of Chevron, a longtime sponsor of the Houston Festival Foundation and the Houston International Festival. Chevron has supported the festival and our education and outreach programs in a variety of different areas through the years, and began sponsoring the Living Museum in 2007,” said Stoilis.

“Chevron is also the presenting sponsor of the festival’s 2013 Teacher’s Curriculum Guide featuring Brazil, an educational resource that reaches up to 900,000 students at 1,471 campuses. The Teacher’s Curriculum Guide works hand-in-hand with the Living Museum,” Stoilis said. “Thanks to the Teacher’s Curriculum Guide, students are able to learn about our honored country during the weeks before the festival, and the Chevron Brazil Living Museum helps bring the lessons to life through cultural presentations, music, dance and more when they come to the festival site.”

This year’s festival also featured a Gospel Brunch; this new addition brought two hours of live inspirational music on both Sundays of the festival with performances by Houston’s own gospel favorites Endurance and the Jones Hill Family.

The event closed out with headliner Aaron Neville on the Bud Light World Music Stage. The legend performed crowd favorites including “Tell it Like it Is” and “Ain’t No Sunshine.”

Each year, the festival seeks to educate, enlighten and inspire its guests to become aware and appreciative of cultures different than their own. This year, the more than 100,000 festival visitors played an important role in helping achieve this goal.

For more information about the Houston International Festival and the extended information about the event’s schedule, visit its website, or call 713-654-8808.

Connect on social media at and @iFest hashtag #HoustoniFest.

Download high-resolution images of past festivals, headliners, and more here.

To schedule interviews, please contact Ashley Small at 281-827-3419 or by email at

2013 marks the 43nd year for the Festival, which is produced by a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization, the Houston Festival Foundation, Inc. Festival proceeds benefit the education program of the foundation, which produces a teacher's curriculum guide on the spotlighted country's culture.  The curriculum guide reaches a potential 900,000 students at 1,471 campuses in seven Texas counties. Foundation funding is provided in part by grants from the City of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, corporate sponsorships, private contributions, in-kind support and volunteer assistance.