ready for some football
College Football Championship weekend kicks off in Houston with free concerts, events, and more
America's eyes will be on Houston on Monday, January 8, as the city hosts the College Football Playoff National Championship game at NRG Stadium, broadcast live on ESPN. Houston, notably, scores the championship game as the College Football Playoffs toast 10 years.
The game sees No. 1-ranked Michigan Wolverines — who bested Alabama in the Rose Bowl — face off with the No. 2-ranked Washington Huskies, who just broke UT fans' hearts after beating the Longhorns in the Sugar Bowl.
While swarms of Wolverines and Huskies will hit H-Town for Monday's championship game, locals won't need a championship ticket to get in on the action, thanks to a jam-packed weekend of events — almost all of which are free.
Downtown has been dubbed Championship Campus for the big weekend activities: Playoff Fan Central, AT&T Playoff Playlist Live!, the Trophy Trot 5K and 10K, Taste of the Championship, and the Allstate Championship Tailgate.
We've got the playbook for all the fun starting Friday, January 5. But first, an insider tip:
CultureMap readers who use luxury rideshare service Alto can score $10 off two rides through Monday night. To help pregame, beloved Houston brewery Karbach is getting the first round for Alto users with free beers in the car during championship weekend rides through Monday (for riders 21 and older — sorry, high schoolers). Be sure to use code CHAMPIONSHIP when booking an Alto trip online.
Now, game on.
Playoff Fan Central: Friday-Sunday, January 5-7 at the George R. Brown Convention Center
The free, three-day, family-friendly activities kick off at noon on Friday. Expect games, serious athletic drills, autograph signings, cool activations, youth sports clinics, pep rallies, photo opps, and special exhibits celebrating all things college football.
Arrive early (9 am) on Saturday for Media Day. Fans get free access as Michigan and Washington coaches and players are interviewed; fans can listen in with mini radios supplied at the program.
Work those agility drills at Fan Fest.Photo courtesy of College Football Playoffs
It's not just the football teams facing off: The Michigan and Washington bands will perform on Sunday at 2 pm and 3 pm, respectively, for what promises to be a super sonic showdown.
AT&T Playoff Playlist Live!: Friday-Sunday, January 5-7 at Shell Energy Stadium
Kudos to event organizers and sponsors for securing musical talent that demands top-dollar tickets — for free. These AT&T Playoff Playlist Live! free concerts get the energy pumping, starting with Kidz Bop on Friday.
Country stat Megan Moroney takes the stage Sunday along with Jon Pardi and Jake Owen.Photo by David McClister
Rap and hip-hop fans should be ready to line up for rap stars Jack Harlow, the pride of Kentucky rap who's making waves with his new VR concert experience.Two-time Grammy nominee Latto, many remember her as the star of The Rap Game reality show, also takes the stageon Saturday. They'll be joined by towering (he's 6'5) Georgia rapper 2 Chainz, a former college athlete himself, who hooped for Alabama State University.
Sunday gets country with Grand Ole Opry member/crooner Jon Pardi, who just revealed he's sober and is a refreshing country throwback. Handsome star singer-songwriter (and passionate golfer) Jake Owen is also on the bill, as is and multi-platinum country artist-songwriter Megan Moroney, a rising, charismatic star.
Fans must register for concert tickets online in advance, show the QR code via the CFBPlayoff mobile app at the convention center, and secure a wristband for entry to all shows except Kidz Bop on Friday.
Trophy Trot: Sunday, January 7 downtown
Get that pre-game cardio in with a family-friendly run/walk starting at 9 am. New this year, participants can compete in both 5K and 10K distances. Each Trophy Trot participant receives a T-shirt and medal, with numerous chances to win tickets to the CFP National Championship game the next day. Registration is open now.
All proceeds benefit Extra Yard for Teachers, the College Football Playoff Foundation's nonprofit that inspires and empowers quality teachers.
Taste of the Championship: Sunday, January 7 at Union Station in Minute Maid Park
As we reported, this premium dining experience and fundraising event boasts a veritable gourmet feast from an all-star roster of chefs and more than 30 restaurants. James Beard Award-winning chef, media personality, and CultureMap Wine Guy Chris Shepherd will host, backed up by Louisiana-based party band The Phunky Monkeys. All proceeds benefit the CFP Foundation's Extra Yard for Teachers platform. Find tickets here.
Houston food all stars Aaron Bludorn and Chris Shepherd headline Taste of the Championship. Photo by Emily Jaschke
Allstate Championship Tailgate: Monday, January 8 at NRG Stadium
What's a big-time football game without a tailgate? Fans with a ticket to Monday's showdown should head to Blue Lots 16, 17, and 18 starting at 11 am. This tailgate features interactive games, activations, concessions, award-winning musical acts, live performances by each team’s marching band, and a chance to watch the live ESPN broadcasts.
Again: Fans must present a national championship game ticket for entry to the Allstate Championship Tailgate.
Stay on top of all the action and updates at Championship Campus online and follow @CFBPlayoff on social media.