The Woodlands welcomed visitors from around the world this past April during four major events: The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival (April 14-16), The Chevron Championship (April 19-23), Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas (April 22), and the Insperity Invitational (April 24-30). These nationally and internationally recognized events brought arts and sports enthusiasts together in The Woodlands, to support incredible artists and cheer on professional athletes.
"It's an honor to be the host destination for these amazing events," said Brad Bailey, Chairman of Visit The Woodlands. "The greatest reward is seeing the artists, athletes, and fans having a great experience and making memories in The Woodlands. We're already looking forward to next year."
Photo: Mauricio Ramirez, Courtesy of The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival
THE WOODLANDS WATERWAY ARTS FESTIVAL
On April 14-16, The Woodlands Waterway transformed into an outdoor art gallery, attracting over 20,000 attendees throughout the weekend. Artists from near and far (including artists from Canada, Mexico, and Israel) displayed their work in booths that stretched from Town Green Park to The Woodlands Waterway Marriott, showcasing a variety of talent in different mediums: sculptures, jewelry, photography prints, paintings and more.
Along with artist booths, attendees enjoyed live music, a community mural (which will be hung in the Spotlight on the Arts Gallery at The Woodlands Mall), kid's activities, and Books on the Green, a new addition to the festival that showcased national best-selling authors and their books. Proceeds from the event went back to The Woodlands Arts Council student art scholarship program and microgrant program.
Over 400 volunteers participated to make the festival a success, and artists and attendees raved about the hospitality and support they received during the weekend. Fidelity Investments The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival was recently named the #1 Texas fine arts festival in the Texas Travel Awards and #6 Outdoor Fine Arts Festival in the nation by Art Fair SourceBook. The festival will celebrate its 19th anniversary next year, April 12-14, 2024.
THE CHEVRON CHAMPIONSHIP
The week after The Woodlands Waterway Arts Festival, 132 professional female golfers from around the world arrived at The Club at Carlton Woods for the first LPGA Major of the year: The Chevron Championship (April 19-23). This was the tournament's first time in The Woodlands after being held in Palm Springs, California, for 51 years. Players from 28 different countries (including Australia, Mexico, Japan, Sweden, Finland, South Africa, Argentina, and the U.S.) experienced new challenges on The Jack Nicklaus Signature Golf Course, including water features and a variety of angles to test the professional's skillsets. One of the players on the course was professional golfer Stacy Lewis, who grew up in The Woodlands.
"It's something that growing up here I thought would never happen, to bring a championship like this to The Woodlands. It's been awesome," said Stacy Lewis. "It's really special, and The Woodlands is really special to me. I always want to be announced from The Woodlands because it's where I grew up, it's where I learned the game of golf, and it feels like the most home place to me."
Attendees at The Chevron Championship used The Woodlands Township Park and Ride at Sterling Ridge to shuttle into The Club at Carlton Woods, where they enjoyed spirited golf competition and unique fan experiences, such as The Inspiration Dome and Drivebox, which featured augmented and virtual reality golf.
During the tournament, 37,609 fans visited the grounds to watch in person, and 6.7 million people tuned to watch it on The Golf Channel and NBC (during live and re-airs). Visit The Woodlands' commercial aired multiple times throughout the week on NBC, and The Chevron Championship was the top-rated sports program on NBC for the week. It was also NBC Sports' most-watched edition of the event on record and experienced the highest streaming ever for an LPGA event. The competition culminated on Sunday with professional golfer Lilia Vu claiming the Champion title and continuing the tradition of jumping into the water after the win.
Lilia Vu, Winner of The Chevron Championship 2023
Credit: Getty Images
The Inspiration Dome at The Chevron Championship.
Credit: Visit The Woodlands
MEMORIAL HERMANN IRONMAN TEXAS
While golf fans flocked to The Club at Carlton Woods for The Chevron Championship on Saturday, over 2,000 athletes from 57 countries and 49 states gathered at North Shore Park with friends, family, supporters, and volunteers, for the Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas triathlon. The competition began with a 2.4-mile swim inside Lake Woodlands and The Woodlands Waterway, followed by a 112-mile bike ride along the Hardy Toll Road and a 26.2-mile marathon run that led triathletes through The Woodlands Town Center and along The Woodlands Waterway.
Spectators lined The Woodlands Waterway, cheering on triathletes as they swam, biked, and ran through The Woodlands. As the IRONMAN Americas competition, the event offered 100 male and 100 female qualifying slots for the 2023 VinFast IRONMAN World Championship. Rudy von Berg (USA) captured the overall victory with a time of 7:44:51, and Kate Matthews (GBR) claimed the women's race victory with a time of 8:32:52, a major success after her recovery from a training accident last fall.
Rudy von Berg, 2023 Champion
Credit: The IRONMAN Group
Swim to Bike Transition
Credit: Visit The Woodlands
In 2022, Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas was named the best overall race, best finish line, and best post-race experience in the IRONMAN Athlete's Choice Awards. One of the things that makes this course a favorite among IRONMAN participants is "Hippie Hollow", a section of the run course that's decorated with streamers and flashing lights at night, where costumed performers and spectators cheer for the triathletes as they muster their strength to continue during their first, second, and third lap around The Woodlands Waterway.
This event would not be possible without volunteer support - Over 3,000 support tasks for the day were filled by 2,500 volunteers who helped triathletes along the swim, bike, and run routes. The race also featured live event coverage on the IRONMAN.com/LIVE, IRONMAN YouTube and Facebook channels. Memorial Hermann IRONMAN Texas will return on April 27, 2024, as the North American Championship, offering the most qualifying slots for the 2024 VinFast World Championship.
Credit: Visit The Woodlands
Triathlete Running Along The Woodlands Waterway
Courtesy: The IRONMAN Group
April's exciting events culminated with the Insperity Invitational (April 24-30), a professional golf tournament on the PGA Tour that is annually held at The Woodlands Country Club Tournament Course. The event brought together 78 of the best PGA Tour Champion Players and was free for the public to attend. Spectators also were able to enjoy a special competition on Saturday, where the greats of the game (including Jack Nicklaus, Juli Inkster, and Gary Player) participated in the Folds of Honor Greats of Golf.
On Sunday, Steven Alker claimed the championship title for the second year in a row. He was cheered on throughout the week by the family of his former caddie, Sam Workman, who passed away earlier this year. The tournament was televised on the Golf Channel with 9 hours of live coverage and 9 hours of replay coverage; It was also broadcasted by 22 linear TV partners in 170+ countries and territories, bringing this inspiring golf tournament and The Woodlands to millions of people around the world.
Nearly 1,000 volunteers participated and helped make the event a success, and 40,000 attendees came to watch the PGA champions compete over the course of the week. The tournament generated an estimated economic impact of $18-20 million, according to Insperity Invitational.