It's been a tough road for many this past year, but we're coming 'round the bend, well, at least Art Car is, and it's planning a mighty return, at that. Of course, we’re not out of the Covid woods quite yet, which is why The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art has put together a brand new format for everyone’s favorite artistically odd car-centric event.

In lieu of the popular parade, which regularly draws thousands of Houstonians to downtown streets for a glimpse at that year’s craziest, kookiest, and coolest mobile masterpieces (we know, we’re devastated too), the 2021 Houston Art Car Experience will feature two distinct parts over its three-day run May 14–16.

When the sun is up, visitors can stop by organization’s five-acre campus for what it’s calling the “Houston Art Car Experience by Day,” a quarter-mile Art Car Walk, complete with a digital self-guided tour. Each vehicle in this maze of 80 art cars—according to the press release, they’ll be everything from SLABs to mobile sculptures and even a curated selection of entries from Houston Art Cars of yesteryear—will be wearing a unique QR code that guests can scan to learn more about the individual cars.

Once the sun goes down, the space will be transformed for Houston Art Car Experience By Night, an illuminated celebration reminiscent of the annual Art Car Ball. This spectacular will feature live music, light and projection art installations, costumes, and special performances. We won’t know who or what’s on the lineup until April 1, but we do know proceeds from the event will support the Orange Show and its plans for next year’s 35th Annual Houston Art Car Parade Weekend on April 7–10, 2022. 

And since no event these days is complete without a slew of safety protocols, the Orange Show promises strict adherence to a set of guidelines that includes mandatory face coverings, hand-sanitizing stations, and social distancing. 

So, rev those engines folks, it’s sure to a be a colorful ride.

May 14–16. From $5/$40. The Orange Show Center for Visionary Art, 2334 Gulf Terminal Road. More info and tickets at artcarexperience.com.