IT MIGHT seem a little dreary for this weekend’s forecast, but make the best of it!  Plan to join your friends and family at some of these free events around Houston.  Here are a few highlights:

Attend an art reception kick-off — Tonight, the Art League of Houston is sponsoring a kick-off event for its latest exhibit, Wishing Well of Houston.  This exhibit depicts the disparities in average income around Houston’s neighborhoods through a major interactive sculptural installation. Guests will enjoy goodies and drinks from 6 p.m. – 9 p.m. An artist talk begins at 6:45 p.m. Art League of Houston, 1953 Montrose Blvd.

Celebrate trees — Spend Arbor Day this Saturday, January 16, at Houston Arboretum’s Arbor Day Celebration.  From 10 a.m. – 4 p.m., families can collect a free tree seedling (while supplies last), meet owl mascot Johnny Appleseed, create crafts, enjoy face painting, see tree planting demonstrations, live music, and more. Browse the native tree sale, too.  The event is billed as rain or shine!  Houston Arboretum, 4501 Woodway, 713.681.8433.

Engage in preview parties — This weekend features two preview parties for future Houston events.  The Houston Press Artopia Preview Party is Friday, January 15, from 8 p.m. – 11 p.m. at Reign Lounge (4105 Washington Ave.).  Complimentary light bites, drink specials, performances, and discount tickets to Artopia on January 30.  Or venture to Saris & Samosas on Saturday, January 16, from 9 p.m. – 1 a.m., a kick-off party by Houston Young Professionals for the Arts for I Dream of Maharani. This event at SoVino Bistro & Wine Bar (507 Westheimer) features light bites from Bombay, Indian beer, and mango mimosas.

Focus on health — The Memorial Hermann Sports Medicine Institute EXPO (in conjunction with the Chevron Houston Marathon weekend) continues Saturday, January 16, at the George R. Brown Convention Center from 9 a.m. – 6 p.m.  The EXPO features 100 vendors, health seminars, Q&A sessions with industry experts, entertainment, and free product samples.

Cheer for the runners — The Chevron Houston Marathon (and Half) is this Sunday beginning at 7 a.m.  Stand along the race route to cheer the 20,000+ runners along the way.  I’ll be there proudly wearing #29417 for my first half marathon.   Thanks to Sarah for reminding me to add this to weekend freebies!  How could I forget — I’m running it!