Culture in Tyler, TX

By Cary Estes on May 8, 2011 at 6:52 am EST

PHOTO CREDIT: Todd Bennett

Flowers may be the crown jewel in Tyler's culture scene, but cultural opportunities extend far beyond the garden gates.

The premier event for a city that touts itself as America’s Rose Capital is the Texas Rose Festival. The rose industry has long been an important part of Tyler’s economy (more than half of all rose bushes currently sold in the United States are grown or packaged in the area). Even during the Great Depression, the city was known for its robust rose production.

So in 1933, the Tyler Garden Club helped organize a festival to showcase the East Texas town where they said, “Everything is coming up roses.” It was originally known as the Tyler Rose Festival, but as its popularity expanded and attracted visitors from throughout the state and beyond, the name was changed to the Texas Rose Festival.

Thousands of people attend the three-day event, which includes art shows, floral displays and a flamboyant rose parade featuring the Rose Queen and her court. There is also a Queen’s Tea, held in an elaborate rose garden.

Flower Trails and Rose Gardens

A more subdued — but just as colorful — floral festival is the Azalea and Spring Flowers Trail, which has been held in Tyler every year since 1960. The two trails traverse through eight miles of residential gardens and historic homes, attracting more than 100,000 visitors during the annual two-week run.

Rounding out the flower power is the city’s year-round attraction, the Tyler Municipal Rose Garden. The 14-acre garden is the largest of its kind in the United States and contains numerous varieties of roses, some dating back to the mid 1800s.

Performance Central

In downtown Tyler, the historic Liberty Hall has been renovated masterfully and wows crowds with its intimate atmosphere and powerful acoustics. Residents from across East Texas flock to Liberty Hall for motion pictures and concerts.

Residents and visitors also enjoy musical and dramatic performances at the East Texas Symphony Orchestra and Tyler Civic Theatre, which offer programs for children, youth and adults.

Museums and More

But there is much more to do in Tyler than just stop and smell the flowers. Discovery Science Place is a hands-on science museum geared toward children and teens. Ballet Tyler holds dance performances and helps provide scholarship assistance to aspiring dancers. The East Texas Symphony Orchestra has been performing regularly since the 1950s and plays a series of popular park concerts each year.

The city has eight different museums, including the Historic Aviation Memorial Museum, the Tyler Museum of Art and the Goodman-LeGrand House and Museum, which was built in 1859 and was the first property in Tyler to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Additionally, the McClendon House Museum was designated a Tyler Historic Landmark in 1984, followed by a place on the National Register of Historic Places.

And for something slightly different, there is Texas True, a furniture and memorabilia store that sells only products made in Texas. It’s the perfect place to find that cowboy-theme dog bed.

Feeling artsy? Stop by the Main Street Gallery, an art gallery downtown that features a batch of local talent.

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