Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock

In Lubbock, Texas, where locals have been pouring their livelihood into both the city and their craft, the community has created a Texas experience like no other. What sets apart a destination from others is the welcoming faces who meet travelers with open doors and a willingness to share the West Texas way of life with all who wander through.

CultureMap recently checked in with three Lubbock luminaries to learn what drew them to the city, what dreams they're making come true, and how visitors can take part in the magic.

Matt Bostick, sommelier and hospitality director of Llano Estacado Winery
Though his roots are in Texas, Matt Bostick found his passion for wine in Italy. While studying hospitality in Florence in 2011, he met Parisian sommelier Quinton Paillard, who encouraged his budding love of vino and set Bostick on the path toward becoming a sommelier himself.

After earning his degree in restaurant, hotel, and institutional management from Texas Tech University in 2012, Bostick joined Jackson Family Estates in Los Angeles. From there, he further honed his expertise as the lead sommelier for Pizzeria Mozza and Osteria Mozza, under the mentorship of Sarah Clarke A few years later, Bostick co-founded a restaurant called Baldoria and even developed a line of ready-to-drink cocktails with his business partner, David King.

"When David and I decided to create B&K Cocktail Company, our business venture brought us back to Texas," Bostick says. "With my family residing in Lubbock, it was a natural choice to settle here. Lubbock holds significant personal and professional values for me. It's my hometown, where I was born and raised, and where most of my family continues to live and contribute to this community."

Today, Bostick is the events director and sommelier at Llano Estacado Winery, Texas’ second oldest winery. Bostick guides visitors through a sensory journey, introducing them to the complexities of different wines, regions, and vintages while offering insights into history, production techniques, and the unique characteristics of each varietal.

"I help individuals identify tasting notes, appreciate nuances, and even recommend food pairings that enhance the overall culinary experience," he says.

Grape Day on October 21 is an ideal time to visit the winery to see Bostick in action. To celebrate the end of the harvest, which spans late July to early October, Llano features captivating self-guided tours, diverse art booths, delicious offerings from the finest local vendors, exciting games for kids, and a mesmerizing lineup of live music on the Lubbock Listening Room stage.

Admission is free, but for $35 attendees will receive a commemorative Grape Day wine glass along with two tickets redeemable for a glass of wine. Pre-sale drink tickets will also be available for purchase in a bundle of three tickets for $15 (otherwise each ticket is $8 at the event).

"Grape Day holds immense significance to me. It's a celebration that represents the culmination of hard work and a sense of community," Bostick says. "Llano Estacado Winery has not only been a pioneer in the Texas wine industry but has also contributed to our local community's growth. Events like this shine a light on the rich heritage and traditions of winemaking, connecting our community to a broader narrative of craftsmanship and appreciation for the finer things in life."

Ian Timmons, pitmaster and third-generation owner of Tom & Bingo’s BBQ
It's been called a West Texas legend since 1952, and as soon as you step inside Tom & Bingo's BBQ, you'll understand why. This old-school barbecue joint — and Lubbock’s oldest restaurant — is packed with nostalgia and dishes out authentic barbecue that would make original owners Tom and Bettye Clanton proud, and current owner Ian Timmons intends to keep it that way.

While studying at Texas Tech, Timmons worked under Dwayne Clanton (Tom and Bettye's son, who gained ownership of the restaurant in 1980) and earned hands-on experience as a pitmaster. Upon graduation, he moved to Denver with his wife, Kristi, where he worked at Denver Biscuit Company.

"I’ve always worked in restaurants," says Timmons. "From my first job at Dairy Queen to a local restaurant called Orlando’s, where I was a server and got fired for making pizzas during my shift."

Timmons' wife also happens to be Dwayne and Liz Clanton's daughter, making him the obvious choice to carry on the legacy when the couple was ready to retire in 2017.

Now, Timmons pays homage to Tom & Bingo's 70-year legacy by smoking modern bark-on-brisket, his own coarsely ground smoked beef sausage, and pork spare ribs on the original brick pits the predecessors used for decades. He's also expanded the menu to include scratch-made potato salad and slaw, but one item remains a constant since the early days of the restaurant: the steak burger.

"This fall we are switching from our legendary brick pits to a new Centex offset smoker, so it’s back to square one for us," reveals Timmons. "This fall will be a learning season for us! But we are excited to see what a new smoker can do for us."

You can also catch the eatery's new food truck out and about and look forward to more biscuit collaborations with Monomyth Coffee (inspired by Timmons' time in Denver, of course). "We'll also hopefully open a Biscuit Club location to help grow the breakfast scene in Lubbock," Timmons hints.

But perhaps the tastiest way to experience Tom & Bingo's, besides visiting the restaurant itself, is by sampling its goods at the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest in November. Held in Lockhart, November 4-5, the event helps raise funds for Feeding Texas and a network of food banks across the state.

Yung Cry Baby, aka Aaliyah Limon, resident artist with Charles Adams Studio Project
Full-time musician and vocalist Aaliyah Limon was born and raised in Lubbock, but when she was younger, she didn't feel the city had a place for her yet. After graduation, the aspiring talent took off to explore both coasts, working as a model and artist, but after a while realized she wasn’t as fulfilled as she had hoped and missed her family.

"I needed a break from my fast-paced lifestyle," she says. "I came back home to be with family, take a step back, and reassess what I really wanted to do with my life. When I moved back, my music took off much faster than I ever anticipated."

Now Limon is professionally known as Yung Cry Baby and serves as a resident artist with the Charles Adams Studio Project, a nonprofit that supports working artists in Lubbock.

"Because I'm passionate about it and motivated by the people who resonate with what I sing about, I've kind of kept with the momentum of things," Limon says. "I'm excited about what I do, and I love helping people heal through my music. Even if it only helps a little, it gives me a lot of joy knowing I can maybe help someone not feel alone."

Fans can see Yung Cry Baby perform not only at the karaoke bar she hosts at, but also at First Friday Art Trail, a monthly arts festival located in downtown Lubbock with a mission to bring together collectors, artists, and community friends for an evening of art, music, and fun. Participants are ever-changing, offering something for everyone.

"I love doing community-based things, especially when it comes to art," Limon says. "First Friday is always a blast for me."

Yung Cry Baby is currently working on her first full album, following the earlier release of her EP. Follow her on social media for updates.


Experience the people and places of Lubbock yourself by planning your next vacation here.

Llano Estacado Winery wine glass

Photo courtesy of Visit Lubbock

Matt Bostick helps visitors appreciate the wine at Llano Estacado Winery.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Shavano Park: An expert welcomes you to a 'small town in the big city'

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Rosanna Schulze's relationship with Shavano Park goes way back. For the past 20 years, the San Antonio native has lived right outside this "small town in the big city," driving through it every day to show homes and work with buyers and sellers in the neighborhood.

Schulze first began selling homes in the area when she was the site manager and sales counselor for a custom-home builder in the subdivision Bentley Manor, where she has since sold over 20 luxury homes.

In 2007, she left new-home sales and returned to her dream job as a Realtor, combining her strong construction background, knowledge of luxury homes, and love of working with people (including several of the San Antonio Spurs).

"The city of Shavano Park offers a unique blend of rural small-town character with urban conveniences," says Schulze. "The city's motto is 'City Living with Country Charm,' and it lives up to it."

Shavano Park's neighborhoods include the Old Shavano Park, Shavano Estates, Shavano Creek, De Zavala Estates, Bentley Manor, Huntington, Willow Wood, and Pond Hill Garden Villas.

Schulze offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Shavano Park. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Take your pick from elegant — "Fredrick's Bistro and Pam's Patio Kitchen," Schulze recommends — to laid-back, like Ranger Creek Brewing & Distilling and Chicken N Pickle.

The newly opened Kerbey Lane, Bigz Burgers at UTSA, North Italia, and La Panaderia at the Rim also generate buzz.

Where to play
"Phil Hardberger Park and Salado Creek Greenway Trails will get you outside," while TopGolf and Andretti Indoor Karting & Games provide fun in a more structured setting.

Six Flags Fiesta Texas is only two miles away, and Mission Ridge Shooting Range & Academy is a mere three.

Where to live
"I recently helped several families downsize into luxury garden homes in The Cottage Estates of Bentley Manor," Schulze says. "The area offers high-end luxury garden homes in a gated subdivision surrounded by lush landscaping and estate-size homes on 3/4-acre lots."

310 Hampton Way was one of those downsized homes, purchased by Schulze's clients after she sold their 5,600-square-foot home in The Waters at Deerfield.

"It was a pleasure working with Rosanna on the sale of our home," says Charles T. Barret, one of Schulze's many repeat clients in Shavano Park. "She was polite, welcoming, and an absolute professional at all times. Her experience as a Realtor was evident in the way she conducted business and the smooth sales process. I highly recommend Rosanna if you are looking for an experienced Realtor who delivers results."


Rosanna Schulze works and plays in Shavano Park. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email rosanna.schulze@kupersir.com, or call 210-788-4135.

Realtor Rosanna Schulze.

Realtor Rosanna Schulze

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Rosanna Schulze.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Vintage Oaks + Gruene: Go on vacation without ever leaving home

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio and its surrounding areas that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Real estate agent Ginger Browning spent most of her life in the New Braunfels area — even a short move out of state couldn't keep her away from Central Texas.

"While I loved getting to visit different parts of the country, learn different cultures, and meet different people, I got back home as soon as I could," she says. "The graciousness and hospitality of people here are beyond compare."

Having worked in the area, which includes the neighborhoods Vintage Oaks and Gruene, for more than a decade, Browning notes that the location is unbeatable: convenient to everything, but not in the hustle and bustle of the big city.

"The area has so much to offer: the relaxing feel, beautiful rock and stucco homes, expansive yards, Hill Country views and so much more," Browning says. "With the music scene in Gruene and its wonderful restaurants, you do not have to go far to have a good time."

The amenities aren't to be overlooked, either. "Gruene has the river activities, food, shopping, and night life while Vintage Oaks has hidden parks and walking trails, but the best is the amazing pool with the lazy river," she adds. "It is a great way to pass those long, hot summer days."

Browning, who was a Top 10 agent for Kuper Sotheby's International Realty in 2021 and a member of the President's Circle, has also been recognized as a Platinum Top 50 Realtor several years running.

What you might not expect, though, are her hobbies: motorcycles and beekeeping. "We have several hives on our property that we care for. It is such a great experience to watch and learn how they work," she says. "The honey is not bad either."

Browning offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Vintage Oaks and Gruene. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
There are several icons of the area that Browning visits often, like Gruene River Grill, Krause's Biergarten and Cafe (which was originally built in 1938), Muck & Fuss for craft beer and burgers, and Marina's for breakfast tacos.

Where to play
It's all about the water here, from Schlitterbahn to Canyon Lake to a day lazily tubing down the river. Landa Park is where you'll find the headwaters of Comal Springs, plus charming paddle boats and 50 acres of greenspace.

What to see
See live music at Freiheit Country Store or Gruene Hall, catch a classic or new-release movie at Stars and Stripes Drive-In, or participate in any of the many seasonal festivals.

A visit to the Sophienburg Museum and Archives offers insight into the area's German heritage, while a stroll across the Faust Street Bridge feels like stepping back in time.

And, of course, you're not in Texas unless you stop at Buc-ee's and marvel at all its goods for sale.

Where to live
Many properties here have beautiful views and spacious grounds, and most are custom-built or semi-custom like 1021 Gruene Springs, a record-breaking sale of Browning's in New Braunfels that secured the highest price per square foot that has ever sold in the neighborhood.

Other significant sales of hers in the area include 1090 Provence Pl., 1757 Antigua Cove, and 1017 Elm Creek.

Another perk that Browning points out is the area's generally low tax rate and no city taxes in some of the more popular neighborhoods, including Vintage Oaks

"While it was not our first time selling a home, we had never before encountered such exceptional service," says one of Browning's clients. "From the first day that we worked with Ginger, we were struck by her incredible enthusiasm, heartfelt sincerity, astounding industry knowledge, client advocacy, dedication, and personal attention."

The client also pointed out that Ginger went out of her way to ensure that selling their home did not interfere with their busy work schedules.

"Words cannot describe how reassuring it is to know that not only do you have an agent who is willing to go the extra mile, but will make your life as stress-free as possible throughout the home searching and buying process. We also connected with Ginger's warm personality and sense of humor from the start, and now consider her not just our Realtor but our lifelong friend.""


Ginger Browning works and plays in Vintage Oaks and Gruene. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email ginger.browning@kupersir.com or call 830-837-1891.

Agent Ginger Browning

Realtor Ginger Browning

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Ginger Browning.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Alamo Heights: A big little town with great schools and walkability

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


In 2007, Kathy Ripps retired as an Alamo Heights Junior School counselor and transitioned right into real estate, where to this day she happily sells people on her own neighborhood.

"It was a natural fit for me — I've lived here for 25 years," the agent says. "Alamo Heights has charm, beautiful architecture, a canopy of trees, great schools, and walkability."

The vibe is that of a small town, Ripps says, where your neighbor driving by will always stop to chat and the cars behind will wait patiently through the conversation. The community strongly supports its Alamo Heights schools and turns out in droves to cheer on each activity. You can walk to boutiques, restaurants, The Quarry, or Central Market and it's only minutes to Pearl, downtown, and the airport.

"I am originally from Kansas City, Missouri, but my Texas roots run deep," says Ripps, who has called the Lone Star State home for more than 35 years. "I am actively involved in numerous charities and love giving back to this area."

Ripps offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Alamo Heights. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
From upscale-yet-casual dining at Frederick's to SoLuna, Paloma Blanco, and 09 Bistro, there are several spots that top the list for Ripps.

Where to play
"I think for young families you cannot beat the neighborhood pool, which also serves great food and iced tea," notes Ripps. "The Bark Park of Alamo Heights is a hit, and now we have the Bike Park as well."

Walking through the Judson Nature Trails, there are plenty of places to sit and listen to/watch the birds. "I really think the 'gem' of this neighborhood is that it calls you to be outside and enjoy nature," Ripps says.

What to see
The McNay Art Museum, Witte Museum, The DoSeum, The Quarry, and Olmos Basin Park are all must-visits.

Where to live
"I think what is unique about the homes in Alamo Heights is that no two are alike," says Ripps. "You have homes built in the 1930s and then others that have been torn down and completely rebuilt in 2022. The older homes have a lot of quirks and charm, since most have been added onto at some point. But there are still large oak trees in the yards that provide a rich canopy of shade, making it easy to remember that this is one of the oldest neighborhoods in San Antonio."

One recent sale of Ripps was 935 Cambridge Oval, which she had under contract in only two days.

"Kathy is a professional and experienced real estate agent who recently helped us sell and purchase a new home," says her client. "We had a contract only a few days after listing, and she was amazing throughout the selling and buying process. Moving can be difficult, but working with Kathy took all the stress away."


Kathy Ripps lives, works, and plays in Alamo Heights. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email kathy.ripps@kupersir.com, or call 210-240-4464.

Realtor Kathy Ripps

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Kathy Ripps.

Photo courtesy of Kuper Sotheby's International Realty

Boerne: Where to relish Texas Hill Country vibes and views

Your Neighborhood Expert

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


Because of the globe-trotting required by his former career in aviation — including more than 20 years at NASA in Houston — real estate agent Greg Hufstetler has the unique perspective of global insight combined with expert local knowledge.

After successfully navigating the luxury Houston real estate market in the mid-2000s, he was ready to relocate both work and home to the more serene setting of Boerne and has since been in the area for 11 years.

“I knew I always wanted to live in the Hill Country,” Hufstetler says. “The quality of life is unmatched. There are good vibes — and good golf! — all around.”

When he’s not showing homes, Hufstetler is an accomplished guitarist, astronomer, rabid SEC football fan, and a lover of bacon.

He also offered up a few of his personal faves about life in Boerne. Here's his guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
Hufstetler recommends La Cascada Table & Bar at Tapatio Springs Hill Country Resort. They serve farm-to-table Texas fare (try the cast iron-fried Akaushi beef with mushroom gravy and smoked Cheddar whipped potatoes) paired with local wine and craft beer. Live music on their expansive outdoor patio overlooking the Hill Country is a treat, too.

Where to play
An avid golfer himself, Hufstetler says to look no further than the award-winning Resort Course at Tapatio Springs. It’s surrounded by live oak trees and offers incredible views.

What to see
You can enjoy the great outdoors at Cibolo Bluffs Nature Preserve, a scenic 2,000-acre landscape that encompasses nearly three miles of Cibolo Creek. It was originally established to protect a federally endangered Central Texas songbird: the golden-cheeked warbler.

Where to live
“Hill Country classic is the predominant architectural style, with lots of limestone and glass,” says Hufstetler. “Standing-seam metal roofs are plentiful, too.”

Boerne is also a place where you can scoop up some undeveloped land and custom-build a dream home. He recently sold 4.5 acres of land at 31905 IH-10 W for just that purpose.


Greg Hufstetler works and plays in Boerne. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email greg.hufstetler@kupersir.com, or call 832-385-0952.

Photo by Onward Group

Southtown: San Antonio's artsy, historical enclave

Your Expert Guide

There are so many great places to live in San Antonio that it helps to have an expert on your side. The Neighborhood Guide presented by Kuper Sotheby's International Realty gives you insider access from the agents who live and work there, providing in-the-know info about your possible new community.


"Southtown is a neighborhood in the truest sense," says real estate agent Debra Maltz, "residents with diverse backgrounds who care deeply about their community, both its people and its structures, who strive to maintain balance in order to assure that future generations have the same quality of life."

The artsy neighborhood of Southtown is where Maltz keeps her office, and it's an area that she's been happily introducing clients to for the past decade.

"The vibe of Southtown is well appreciated among San Antonio," she says. "It is probably the most walkable neighborhood in the city, with fabulous restaurants, interesting shops, Blue Star Arts complex, the San Antonio River, the So Flo HEB, and gorgeous Victorian homes, all only a short walk to downtown."

Maltz offered up a few more of her personal favorites about life in Southtown. Here's her guide to the area:

Where to eat & drink
"There are too many to pinpoint, but I love Cascabel, a small Mexican cafe across from Bonham Elementary — delicious!" she says.

Liberty Bar, Upscale, Bar Loretta, Little Em's, Pharm Table, Bliss, and The Good Kind also make the list, though Maltz points out that new favorites seem to always be appearing.

Where to play
Obviously Hemisfair Park and the San Antonio River hike and bike path, which goes all the way to the Missions, are oft-visited spots, as is Yanaguana Park and just strolling down King William Street.

What to see
Though the Edward Steves Homestead Museum is currently closed, you can still visit Villa Finale and the Blue Star Arts Complex for your doses of culture and history.

Where to live
"Southtown has wonderful historic homes, many of them well over 100 years old, as well as newer, more modern ones," Maltz says. "Many of the older homes are filled with history, and when you decide to live in a home filled with history you are agreeing to be a steward of the home."

One such homes is a recent listing of Maltz's: 129 Crofton Ave., a one-of-a-kind artisanal King William home.

This was the lifetime home — and project for almost 40 years — of noted local designers and craftsmen Isaac and Judith Maxwell. It has since been thoughtfully updated by the current owners and features gorgeous long-leaf pine floors and ceilings and meticulous woodworking, joinery, and craftsmanship. Original coal-burning faux fireplaces with gorgeous brick can be found throughout. The Maxwells' original punched metal light fixtures and chandeliers can still be found throughout, along with many hidden cabinets and hiding places.

The kitchen has a beautiful island with those same original punched metal cabinet doors, but has also been updated with Corian counters, a built-in refrigerator, a downdraft gas range, farm sink, and a charming banquette overlooking the back deck. Wrap-around porches decorate both the first and second floor, while the third-floor loft makes an ideal guest room, office, or reading room.

A second, 400-square-foot structure in the rear has two floors, each with a living area, full bath, and private entrance. Follow the brick path that winds through the yard down to the San Antonio River.

A stunning recent sale is 331 Adams St., a five-bedroom historic treasure built in 1893.

Known as the Haarmann/Goethe House, it's recognizable by the arched brick facade and multiple porches, but also hides a 900-square-foot apartment, dog run, pool, and outdoor kitchen out back.


Debra Maltz works and plays in Southtown. For more information on buying and selling a home in the area, click here, email debra.maltz@kupersir.com, or call 210-639-3272.

Realtor Debra Maltz

Photo by Onward Group

Agent Debra Maltz.

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Hugely popular San Antonio restaurant Ladino celebrates first anniversary with Mediterranean party

Luck be Ladino

Although Ladino has only been a Pearl gem for one year, the mediterranean hotspot already feels like a San Antonio staple.

Helmed by executive chef Berty Richter and Emmer Hospitality, Ladino is slated to celebrate its first anniversary this Sunday with a festive party celebrating the restaurant's success as well as its future. Guests will enjoy a welcome beverage (and more cocktails for purchase), plus unlimited grilled meats, pita sandwiches, and other bites. DJ Zain will keep the energy up, while guests play yard games and kids get their faces painted.

Chef Richter tells CultureMap, '"In the world of restaurants and hospitality, we always strive to progress, keep learning, and improving."

When Ladino opened last September, it represented a promising branching out from its Austin-branched hospitality group parent, which had prior (and has since) earned acclaim from national publications for its cultural vibrancy — and deliciousness, of course.

In Ladino's case, the cultural touchstone is the Judeo-Spanish language of the same name that Chef Richter spoke growing up, which also included elements of Castellano, French, Italian, Greek, Turkish, and Hebrew. Richter's Turkish mother inspired many parts of the restaurant's popular Mediterranean menu.

Despite a strong point of view, the restaurant does have something for everyone, and is very accommodating to patrons with dietary restrictions. Signature staples include the sourdough-based pita bread (which comes unlimited with the hummus dip), kibbeh nayeh with Wagyu tartare, shishbarak (lamb and pork dumplings), and saffron chicken. The Wagyu Denver steak is a consistent standout, with a perfect crispy edge surrounding the medium rare middle.

Chef Richter plans to keep the menu generally the same for now, with the ongoing tradition of rotating some dishes out based on seasonal availability.

"We are excited to continue exploring the cuisines and cultures that Ladino represents, while strengthening our relationships with local farmers, growers, producers, and the communities of San Antonio," says Richter.

Now open seven days a week, Ladino offers a happy hour on weekdays from 5-6:30 pm. Deals include six dollars off of the hummus dip and pita, $5 off of Ladino's signature cocktails and wines by the glass, and deals on other plates like babaganoush, a spicy Feta plate, and more. The happy hour specials are only available at the upstairs bar, which is easily accessible catty-corner to the main Ladino entrance at the Pearl.

Tickets ($40, $15 for kids) to the anniversary celebration on October 1, from 4-8 pm, are still available via Eventbrite. Regular reservations and to-go orders may be made at ladinosatx.com.

Botanical Garden's Lightscape mesmerizes with new exhibits and discount tickets


Call it the grown-up version of posing with Santa Claus. Since its dazzling debut in 2021, the San Antonio Botanical Garden’s Lightscape has been the essential stop for holiday photoshoots. Planners are already working hard to ensure the annual tradition is more brilliant — and accessible — than ever.

Tickets are now on sale for the showstopping exhibition, running November 17 to January 1. The festivities will include familiar displays and brand-new illuminated works from global designers.

French creative studio Pitaya will return with a new installation, "Spark Ballet." The work features dozens of hanging lanterns glowing with firefly lights as a flickering guide around the lake. Visitors will also be treated to a pair of large-scale spectacles from UK outfit ArtAV, including an array of sparkling stars and a 40-foot-high LED tree.

Some of last year’s favorites will make an encore. The "Heart Arch Walk" allows guests to stroll under a tunnel of love while "Floraison" canopies explorers with brightly lit poppies. As always, the "Winter Cathedral" provides one last selfie spot.

The ever-popular "Bluebonnets" will also mesmerize sightseers, this time with an army of life-sized cowboy nutcrackers. The "Fire Garden" will have a new addition, too — the 25-foot dragon last seen in the blockbuster Imaginary Worlds: Once Upon a Time exhibition.

Peak date tickets cost $28 for adults and $18 for children, with VIP packages and member discounts available. For the first time ever, the garden also offers Value Nights on select dates in November and December. Revelers can score tickets as low as $18 for adults and $10 for kids online.

San Antonio Botanical Garden Lightscape

Photo courtesy of San Antonio Botanical Garden

The Pixel tree makes an ideal selfie stop.

Rock star Bono's daughter makes her own sweet music in Flora and Son

Movie Review

The new Apple TV+ film Flora and Son centers on a single mother and her teenage son, a situation that typically calls for an uplifting story about the mother’s struggles trying to support the two of them, and the bond that develops between them as go through the troubles together. While that element exists somewhat here, it goes down a much different path that’s both saltier and equally as rewarding.

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son

Photo courtesy of Apple TV+

Eve Hewson and Oren Kinlan in Flora and Son.

Set in Dublin, Ireland, the film follows Flora (Eve Hewson), a single mom to Max (Oren Kinlan), who gets in a fair bit of trouble. She shares custody with her ex, Ian (Jack Reynor), and their antagonistic relationship, along with Max being a teenager, likely has an effect on how Flora and Max get along. A typical interchange between mother and son has them calling each other all sorts of bad names, although there rarely seems to be any true animosity behind their arguments.

When a guitar Flora refurbishes for Max goes unappreciated, she instead starts taking online lessons herself with an American named Jeff (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). She’s no less brash with him, but her sincere interest in learning how to play and in finding out more about Jeff’s music opens a new door for Flora. Soon, a discovery that Max is making music of his own on his laptop helps them communicate better than they have in a long time.

Flora & Son is the latest music-focused film from writer/director John Carney (Once, Sing Street), and he once again finds the sweet spot in telling a personal story enhanced by song. Flora has more than a few rough edges, making her a less-than-ideal protagonist, but the heart of the character shines through precisely because she has no filter. Once music is added to the equation, it become that much easier to see the type of person she is and why you should root for her.

Both Hewson and Gordon-Levitt are charming actors, so they establish a connection through a screen well. Fortunately, though, Carney chooses not to leave it at that, adding a slight fantasy element to some of their scenes by having Flora imagine Jeff in the room with her. A romantic element naturally arises, but it’s the unexpected way in which two lonely souls find each other from across the world that makes them the most interesting.

There are a couple of decent songs that come out of the process of all of the music-making, but nothing that you could truly call an earworm. Instead, it’s the feeling you get seeing the characters interact when they’re sharing music with each other that makes the film sing. Only one character could be classified as a professional musician, with the rest of them making music for the pure joy of it, an emotion Carney translates well in his storytelling.

Hewson (the daughter of U2’s Bono, in case you were unaware) is having a moment after 15 years in the business. She has a boldness that serves her as well in this role as it did in the recent Apple TV+ limited series, Bad Sisters. This is Kinlan’s first major part, and he acquits himself well. Both Gordon-Levitt and Reynor are seasoned actors who know how to make the most of their limited scenes.

The depiction of a mother/child relationship in Flora and Son is atypical, but it still winds up in a great spot thanks to the power of music and some fine performances. Carney’s love for both songs and filmmaking has yielded some memorable movies over the years, this one included.


Flora and Son opens in select theaters and on Apple TV+ on September 29.