Deals, performances and tours

Make the most of Houston's free entertainment party: Your cheat sheet to Theater District Open House

Make the most of Houston's free entertainment party: Your cheat sheet to Theater District Open House

Four venues, nine performing arts organizations and just one afternoon — Capital One Bank Theater District Open House, which marks the beginning of the fall arts season for the 17th year on Sunday from 12-4 p.m., offers a lot in a short period of time — all for free.

Whether you're looking for entertainment for the kids, a dose of culture for yourself or great deals on theater district tickets, Open House has it all.

"A lot of groups are offering their best ticket deals of the year as a one-day-only thing," says Andrew Huang, president of the Houston Downtown Alliance. (Preview the offers here.)

Park near the Hobby Center for Performing Arts, Wortham Theater Center, Jones Hall or Alley Theatre, and hop on the free trolley between venues. Sure, it's a five-block radius and you could walk, but we're predicting scattered showers and high temperatures.

Plus time is of the essence here — with rotating entertainment in five theaters, you've got things to see. Outside every theatre there are guides with maps, schedules and a scavenger hunt checklist (answer trivia questions from the nine participating groups and you could win airline tickets or tickets to fall performances).

Check out the full schedule here, but we've pulled a few  highlights not to be missed:

— The Hobby Center is the least central, but has the greatest variety of entertainment. Check out the half-hour musical revues from both Theatre Under The Stars and Gexa Energy Broadway in Sarofim Hall, and spend time between them with one of the nine troupes performing in 15-minute sets for Uniquely Houston, including Dominic Walsh Dance Theater, Masquerade Theater and Virtuosi.

— Those with kids won't want to miss the behind the scenes tours at the Alley, complete with costume trunks to peek inside as well as stage combat demonstrations. And head to Jones Hall for the Symphony's instrument petting zoo, arts and crafts projects and more tours.

— Don't let the price tag ($0) fool you: High-end entertainment abounds, including Houston Ballet and the Houston Grand Opera performing at Wortham in rotating half-hour stints, with Da Camera Jazz capping the day with at 45-minute concert at 3 p.m.

— After the main festivities end at 4 p.m., Houston Symphony will present a free hour-long concert at Jones Hall. Plan to arrive early for good seats — this event always fills the house.

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The scene at Theater District Open House is always something to see.
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Hobby Center for the Performing Arts
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Jones Hall Photo by Laurie
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Houston Symphony
Alley Theatre
Alley Theatre Photo by Alley Theatre
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