From rodeos to revelry, here are 10 of Texas’ top festivals worth the trip this February.
Editor’s note: In light of the pandemic and current COVID-19 surge, travelers should always check for updates and follow suggested safety precautions regarding mask-wearing, vaccination status and social distancing.
Now-Feb. 5: Saddle up for the legendary Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo –– 23 days of western fun in the form of rodeo action and competitions, livestock and horse shows, kid-friendly activities and exhibits, live music concerts, a carnival midway, shopping, food and more unfolding in the new Dickies Arena. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit www.fwssr.com.
Feb. 2-5: Birders should flock to the annual Laredo Birding Festival, which is celebrating 10 years of Birding the Border this year. The Rio Grande stretch between Laredo and Brownsville is known as the “birdiest” corridor in North America and serves as home to hundreds of species of local and migratory birds. After last year’s virtual 9th Laredo Birding Festival, this in-person event promises to be the biggest and best yet, offering bird watchers the opportunity to deepen their avian knowledge of South Texas and explore areas along Laredo’s river front, creek systems and nature trails. More at www.laredobirdingfestival.org.
Feb. 5: Step back in time to celebrate the cowboy way of life at the Brazoria County Fairgrounds from 1 to 6 p.m. Saturday. Hosted by the Brazoria County Historical Museum, this free event allows visitors to enjoy hands-on demonstrations, crafts and more before gathering around the campfire for authentic cowboy stories. Kids will discover the skill of cattle roping, learn the importance and how-to of branding, and visit with a blacksmith. While there, sample some Dutch-oven cooking just like the cowboys would have enjoyed along the trail or hitch a ride on a horse-drawn wagon. More at https://www.facebook.com/BrazCoMuseum/.
Feb. 10-27: Since 1949, the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo has become one of the largest, most prestigious single events in the city. Expect everything from animals and agriculture to family entertainment including a carnival, petting zoo and pony rides in addition to 18 days of rodeo and concerts featuring exciting entertainers including Brad Paisley, Tanya Tucker, Tim McGraw and Sam Hunt each night at the AT&T Center and Freeman Coliseum fairgrounds. More at sarodeo.com.
Feb. 11-12: “Get Back to the Basics of Love” at Luckenbach’s 47th annual Hug-In and Valentine Ball. Dale Watson takes the stage from 8-11 p.m. Friday for his Give Me More Kisses dancehall show, while Weldon Henson & The Golden Roses hold court from 8-11 p.m. Saturday for the Valentine’s Ball. Tickets to the limited capacity shows are $25 per night. Due to Covid-19, camping won’t be a part of this year’s event. More at www.luckenbachtexas.com.
Feb. 16-20: OUTsider: Unplugged is one of Austin’s most progressive festivals, bringing together Austin’s LGBTQ+ community for three days of creation and inspiration. OUTsider –– an Austin-based transmedia nonprofit that celebrates the bold originality and creative nonconformity of the LGBTQ+ communities through the presentation of provocative, overlooked and out-of-the-box film, dance, theater, performance art, music, writing and visual art –– unites queer artists, audiences and scholars from around the globe to exchange ideas, ignite conversations, transcend boundaries and experience new pleasures through artistic discovery through its annual festival and conference. More at https://www.outsiderfest.org/.
Feb. 18-March 1: Bead there for the largest Mardi Gras celebration in Texas––the 111th celebration of Mardi Gras! Galveston. More than 3 million beads will be thrown at Mardi Gras! Galveston, where revelers can expect elaborate parades, headliner performances, family events, feasting, balcony parties and Mardi Gras island-style festivities. More at www.mardigrasgalveston.com.
Feb. 19-27: The 85th Annual Charro Days Fiesta has celebrated the unity of bi-national cultures and traditions since 1938. Expect a festive mix of parades, live music, fiesta dances, a thrilling Charros Days carnival, a costume ball, food and fun to celebrate the spirit of two cultures between the border towns of Brownsville and Matamoros. More at www.charrodaysfiesta.com.
Feb. 24-27: Let the good times roll in Beaumont at Mardi Gras Southeast Texas, where you’ll find entertainment in the form of parades, concerts with headliners including Tyler Farr, Nelly and Los Chicos del 512 as well as carnival rides, Cajun food and more. The fun unfolds at the Event Center in downtown Beaumont (700 Crockett Street). Admission is $10 Thursday and Sunday and $15 Friday and Saturday. Four-day passes are $40 (kids under 12 are free). More at www.mardigrastx.com.
Feb. 24-27: The 25th annual Whooping Crane Festival is a one-of-a-kind event focused on the Whooping Crane––the rarest of cranes and one of the most endangered birds in the world. The Texas Coastal Bend is the only place where you can see the world’s last naturally-occurring population of whooping cranes during their annual return to their wintering habitat at the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge. The four-day event will feature renowned speakers, birding trips, boating trips, nature tours, photography workshops, a trade show and much more. More at www.whoopingcranefestival.org.
If You Go
Fort Worth is a 3-hour drive from Austin.
Laredo is almost 4 hours from Austin.
Brazoria is a little over 3 hours from Austin.
San Antonio is one hour, 20 minutes from Austin.
Luckenbach is a 90-minute drive from Austin.
Galveston is 3.5 hours from Austin.
Brownsville is more than 5 hours from Austin.
Beaumont is a 4-hour drive from Austin.
Port Aransas is 3 hours, 45 minutes from Austin.