If You Go
• Begins at 6 p.m., runs until 10 p.m.
• Parking available at Hamilton Middle School, as well as an Uber pickup and drop-off zone at the corner of 20th & Ashland
• Main art scene is 200 & 300 blocks of 19th Street between Ashland and Yale
Thousands are set to descend upon the Heights for a now-annual tradition like no other this weekend.
On Aug. 5, residents from all around Houston will flock to the 200 and 300 blocks of 19th Street between Ashland and Yale for a showcase of local businesses and homegrown artists during the annual White Linen Nights in the Heights.
The showcase is patterned from the minds of Chris Thayer and his wife, Kay, who moved to Houston after being displaced from New Orleans by Hurricane Katrina and opened their furniture business on 19th Street. However, upon realization the the dog days of summer were tough for businesses, a tradition was born.
“They have White Linen night in the Quarter in New Orleans, and that’s been going on for years. The art galleries have open houses, everyone dresses up, and it’s an art party type of situation,” said Sara Jackson, organizer of White Linen Nights. “They decided to emulate that event and put their own spin on it in the retail district on 19th Street. It’s grown from that.”
The Thayers and the Heights First Saturday group organized the event to promote interest and traffic to 19th Street so local businesses could thrive in the blazing Houston summer. Since 2006, White Linen Nights in the Heights has provided residents and visitors with a premiere event to showcase the talent and creations of Houston’s own, and has grown beyond what the founders could have imagined when transplanted to Houston more than a decade ago.
Artists such as Arthur Deatly, Andy Gonzalez, Ginger Annette and dozens more local artists’ work will be on display outside local shops, while live musical acts such as Bossa II at Casa Ramirez will float their melodious tunes out into the night air.
“One of the great things about the Heights is that people really like to support local businesses and local artists,” Jackson said. “In the tradition of the event, partnering those two things together at a time when it’s hard for them to get foot traffic out there is great.”
Beginning at 6 p.m. (as the art market is set up and artists are hosting open houses) and running until 10 p.m., White Linen Nights will again offer festival goers with a bevy of options, from the art displays for those wanting to get the first crack at local gems, as well as some pre-and-post-event parties at local watering holes such as the new Presidio or Heights Biergarten.
“It’s become a tradition, so people have made it a plan to come here with their friends and family every year — something circled on their calendar that’s just a fun event they go to every year,” Jackson said of the phenomenon which draws about 50,000 visitors on an annual basis. “People like to have an excuse to party and support local businesses in their neighborhood, and this gives them the opportunity to do both.”
While the event has clearly aged well, improvements can always be made, and this year, Jackson said organizers have taken initiative to combat a long-standing issue in the Heights — parking.
Parking along the Heights’ narrow streets or on parking pads along the street may be convenient, but makes for a hassle for drivers attempting to sidle on through the event or walkers attempting to navigate the labyrinth of parked cars. So, in efforts to reduce vehicle traffic and general headaches for motorists and passerby alike, White Linen Nights has partnered with Uber for a more enjoyable experience for all.
“Users can use a discount code to get up to $20 off their ride for White Linen Night. We’ll have a pickup and drop-off zone set up in the parking lot on the corner of 20th and Ashland,” Jackson said.
Looking for another safe place to park the car on White Linen Night? Alexander Hamilton Middle School will offer parking in their attended lot from 5 p.m. until midnight. Drivers can enter on E. 22nd between Harvard and Yale. Parking is offered by the Hamilton Middle School PTO and all proceeds will be for the benefit of enriching the learning experience and environment for all students.
There will also be a major uptick in live music performers (in addition to Bossa II) at the 2017 edition of White Linen Nights compared to years past according to Jackson, including The Atomic Nightingales on the street in the 200 block near Yale, Queerpunk Fest at Vinal Edge (featuring The Furcoats from Austin, Rim Job from NOLA and SPACE CAMP from Connecticut), DEM reggae band at Fly High Little Bunny, duneTX at Jubilee, Wrestlers, Khris Royal and Ishi at the Heights Theater and Rio Yeti at Harold’s Tap Room.
White Linen Night in the Heights is open to the general public with no admission fee.For more information on this year’s event, readers can visit theheightswhitelinennight.com/.