Photo Courtesy The Galleria

It’s time to pack away the coats and slip on the sandals. Spring is here and The Galleria is rolling out the best and brightest styles for the season, drawing inspiration from Mother Nature herself during Primavera, a celebration of fashion and flowers from March 27 through April 5.

Primavera mixes exquisite and imaginative floral displays with the best and brightest spring style shows and beauty demonstrations.

Primavera mixes exquisite and imaginative floral displays with the best and brightest spring style shows and beauty demonstrations.

Lush life-size garden scenes decorate The Galleria thanks to the talented teams of floral designers and landscape artists including those from A.J.’s Landscape and Design/A.J.’s Urban Petals, Theme Designs and Sherrariums. Florists 2 Cool Flowers, Fannin Flowers, Parrot’s Nest, Lush Flowers, Lillian Walker and Flowers by Monica also created arrangement that captured the essence of spring.

The floralscapes are more than décor; they are also part of a mall-wide competition in categories such as Best of Show, Best Garden and Best Floral. Choosing a winner is always difficult when there is so much beauty to choose from, but the judges whittled down the competition to the three Primavera 2015 winners.

Best of Show honors were awarded to A.J.’s Landscape and Design/ A.J.’s Urban Petals. The Best Garden award was given to Southern Empire Landscape. Best Floral award went to The Blooming Idea. Best Window Display went to Rolex.

While the difficult job of choosing winners for the Primavera 2015 awards are over, there is still one more honor to be given. The Galleria’s People’s Choice Award is still at large and it’s up to shoppers to decide who takes home the winning design. Simply head to The Galleria’s Facebook page and like the page and then like the image that truly captures the spirit of spring. The gardens scenes will be on display in The Galleria through April 5.

The Primavera party also includes multiple runway shows, Saturday, March 28, at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Nordstrom wing. Primavera’s floralscapes serve as beautiful backdrops to the fashion shows which include looks from GAP, L.K. Bennett, Macy’s, BCBG and Trina Turk. No two fashion shows are the same and the free fashion presentations are not to be missed.

A.J.'s Landscape and Design/A.J.'s Urban Petals won Best In Show.

Photo Courtesy The Galleria
A.J.'s Landscape and Design/A.J.'s Urban Petals won Best In Show.
Photo Courtesy The Galleria

The Galleria's flower and fashion party gets even bolder: Primavera brings a new contest, beauty demos

Spring Forward

Fresh fashion is blooming at The Galleria just in time for Primavera, the annual celebration of spring that blends breathtaking floral displays with the best fashion and beauty trends of the season. From March 27 through April 5, The Galleria brings the outdoors in with the creation of intoxicating landscapes and garden settings throughout the mall.

Primavera revels in bright colors and bold designs from many of Houston’s most accomplished florists and landscapers.

After winter's chill, it’s refreshing to warm up to the new season. Primavera revels in bright colors and bold designs from many of Houston’s most accomplished florists and landscapers including AJ’s Urban Petals, Darryl & Co and Sherrariums. Look for themed displays throughout The Galleria.

Spring style is in the air and on the runway at the Primavera Fashion Show, Saturday, March 28, at 1 p.m., 2 p.m. and 3 p.m. in the Nordstrom wing. Primavera’s floralscapes serve as beautiful backdrops to the fashion shows which include looks from GAP, L.K. Bennett, Macy’s, BCBG and Trina Turk. No two fashion shows are the same and the free fashion presentations are not to be missed.

Fashion and beauty go hand-in-hand and Primavera guests can explore spring’s new cosmetic colors and products with an array of beauty demonstrations held at stores across The Galleria during the Primavera celebration.

Aspiring floral designers take note. This year’s Primavera celebration is looking for kids to create and compete in a new design contest.

The 2015 theme is Spring: A Concert Of Color and it will debut at The Galleria from March 31 through April 5. Interested youth must be between eight and 18 and be a Texas resident. For more information, contact emailplantlady@sherrariums.com.

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Houston's best holiday events make the season bright with dazzling lights, performances, markets, and more

Good cheer for all

The holidays are in full swing across Houston, with a host of activities that offer something for every taste and budget. That means plenty of holiday performances on stages around town, concerts, and some beloved classics such as The Nutcracker and A Christmas Carol.

Photo courtesy of Color Factory

IG paradise Winter Colorand features a confetti ski lift for that perfect snap.

Houston gets totally lit with dazzling holiday lights all around town, plus immersive activities — such as the only Harry Potter Yule event in North American — to get you into the seasonal swing. And what would the holidays be without shopping? Here's a go-to list for all the holiday fun around town.

Staged season fun
The Houston Symphony puts audiences in the holiday mood with its annual A Very Merry Pops concert, featuring sounds of the season and performances by the orchestra and the Houston Symphony Chorus, on stage December 15 through 18.

Main Street Theater's The Wickhams: Christmas At Pemberley is a must for Jane Austen fans. It closes December 18. The company's Theater for Youth delivers a delightful Rodgers and Hammerstein's Cinderella at the MATCH through December 23.

Houston Grand Opera's mariachi opera El Milagro del Recuerdol Milagro del Recuerdo, a story of family, faith and two cultures runs through December 18 at the Wortham Theater Center. The Wortham is also the home stage for the Houston Ballet, which offers its holiday beloved bonbon The Nutcracker through December 27.

At the Hobby Center, TUTS offers the family-friendly Mary Poppins, the Disney-Cameron Mackintosh musical about that practically perfect nanny and how she transforms the Banks household. Performances run through December 24.

Those looking to put a little rock and roll and soul into their holiday can check out the Ensemble Theatre's A Motown Christmas, running through December 24.

The Alley Theatre announced Wednesday it added six shows of What-A-Christmas to the schedule, with the show now closing on December 30. The comedy finds a drive-through worker on Christmas Eve learning a bit more about the spirit of the holiday. The new production of the Alley's holiday classic, A Christmas Carol, also bows out December 30.

For more must-see shows, check out these recommendations from our writer Tarra Gaines.

Light it up
There's nothing quite like the wonder of "silver lanes aglow." Lighting displays all over the Bayou City are sure to bring holiday delight.

Downtown transforms into Holiday Central with City Lights Downtown Holiday Magic, where visitors can find eight winter wonderlands ranging from light shows, the largest mistletoe mass in Texas, and more. Most activities are free. Check out our full roundup here.

Wander the winding paths of the Houston Botanic Garden through Lightscape, a dazzling display of illuminations set to holiday tunes. Timed entry begins daily at 5:30 pm, through January 1, 2023.

The family favorite Zoo Lights lets guests take in the Houston Zoo in a whole new way. The display runs through January 8, 2023. The saying that everything's bigger in Texas certainly applies to Magical Winter Lights at the Sam Houston Raceway, which offers a castle-themed entrance, lights, lantern display, and a circus for an extra fee. The magic sticks around through January 7, 2023.

Need more lights for the holidays? See our full list.

Shop 'til you drop

Mistletoe Market returns to Midtown's Bagby Park on December 9 at 5 pm and December 10 at 10 am. The first 50 guests receive a free Christmas ornament. Guests can enjoy shopping from a curated selection of more than 20 vendors, food, craft activities, music, and more at this pet and family-friendly market.

Heights Mercantile Holiday Market
On December 10 from 10 am to 5 pm, an array of popup shops will be open along the Mercantile promenade. It's the perfect spot to find something for everyone, while supporting local businesses and artists.

Holiday VIBE Market at Post Houston
Look for more than 150 local artists and artisans each day to turn up at this two-day event, December 10 and 11. Also on tap are a DJ and complimentary cocktails. When hunger strikes, hit up one of Post's restaurants to regain strength for further shopping.

Julep Market
The popular craft cocktail bar hosts this event on December 11, offering an array of cocktail-themed gifts and stocking stuffers, including Julep's own ready-to-drink cocktails. Show up ready to sip and shop. 4 pm to 7 pm.

Immersed for the holidays

Color Factory (3303 Kirby Dr.) presents Winter Colorland, a snowy, seasonal treat full of and Insta-worthy photo opportunities, including the favorite ski lift in a confetti snowstorm. From the entrance to each room and display, visitors can take in a pom pom wreath craft, adorable gifts, and fun around every corner. The dazzling, indoor Instagram paradise runs now through January 31, 2023. Tickets range $28-36.49.

Houston is the only city in North America to host Harry Potter: A Yule Ball Celebration, an immersive tribute to the memorable ball in the books and movie. Costumed hosts coach guess though dances, fashion shows, romps, and more. Sip on butterbeer, nosh on Potter-themed bites, and rest in a courtyard with a Potter-themed ice sculpture. The ball is located at Galleria-area venue Paraiso Maravilla (5714 Fairdale Ln.), which is now open through January 20, 2023. Tickets are available here, with parking outside around $5. Check out our sneak peek here.

Adorable new UH cougar mascot cubs leap into new era with time-honored ring-guarding tradition

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Two impossibly cute brothers are stepping into a longstanding University of Houston tradition.

Shasta VII and Louie, the rescued cougar cubs who now live at the Houston Zoo, are currently "guarding" two UH school rings. On December 1, the 11-week-old brothers officially became UH mascots by protecting the rings int their enclosure.

To keep the young little ones engaged, keepers hid meatballs amongst the hay and climbing logs near the ring boxes as the duo sniffed and examined.

UH students can view all the 2022 school rings on Friday, December 9, where the jewelry will be placed in UH-themed boxes and on display in the empty cougar habitat. Students and guests are encouraged to snap photos in front of the habitat and view the rings; current students enjoy free daytime general Zoo admission (with a valid ID) but must reserve a ticket ahead of time online before visits.

As CultureMap previously reported, Shasta and Louie were found alone in Washington state and moved to the Houston Zoo in early November. The Zoo was contacted by the Washington State Fish & Wildlife Services when a rancher found two orphaned male cubs on his property. At an estimated four weeks old when found in late October, it was unlikely the cubs would have survived on their own. Within days, the duo flew to the Lone Star State and are settling into life at the Houston Zoo.

\u200bShasta VII Louie cougar cub Houston Zoo University of Houston Shasta VII (left) and his brother Louie are adapting to their new home. Photo by Eric Berg

By all accounts, the brothers are growing and thriving in their new home; Shasta VII has emerged as the big brother/alpha leader of the two and often sleeps or rests with a paw over Louie, zoo staffers note.

For UH and zoo fans and supporters, the furry guys come as the zoo mourns the loss of both of its cougars, Shasta VI and Haley, this year. Now, the arrival of the brothers means a chance to ring in a new era for UH and the zoo.

Shasta VI UH rings Dearly departed mascot Shasta VI guarded UH rings at the zoo. Photo courtesy of Houston Zoo

Shaquille O'Neal's chicken restaurant announces big new Houston-area location

Shaq Attack

Shaquille O'Neal's chicken chain has revealed its second Houston-area location. Big Chicken will open next year in Richmond at at 3415 FM 762.

O’Neal, an NBA Hall-of-Famer and media personality, is the primary investor in Big Chicken, a rapidly growing restaurant that started in Las Vegas. It serves fried chicken sandwiches with a range of toppings such as the Big & Sloppy (mac and cheese, fried onions), the Big Aristotle (fried onions, Muenster, Memphis-style barbecue sauce), and the Shaq Attack (pepper jack, jalapeño slaw, spicy chipotle barbecue sauce). Sides include Cheez-It-crusted mac and cheese, jalapeño slaw, and fries (both potato and sweet potato). Fried chicken tenders, sliders, and milkshakes are also available.

In August, the company announced that Houston’s first location would open this fall in the Westchase District at 9660 Westheimer Rd. The Richmond location is expected to follow in mid-2023, according to a release.

As CultureMap has reported previously, O’Neal — along with local franchisees Fazil Malik, Frank Malik, and Noordin Jhaver — plan to open 50 Big Chicken locations across Houston, Austin, San Antonio, and Dallas. The Maliks operate gas stations and convenience stores via their company Northwest Petroleum, while Jhaver brings experience as a Sonic franchisee via his company Drew Real Estate Holdings.

“We’re thrilled that Fazil, Frank and Noordin will debut their second location in Texas,” Big Chicken CEO Josh Halpern said in a statement. “From the beginning, we’ve known that the trio was a fantastic match for the brand and we’ll continue to celebrate each new location alongside them as if it were the first.”