October’s cooler breezes are blowing in a bevy of fall festivals across the Lone Star State. Below are 10 Texas towns celebrating everything from sandcastles and scarecrows to live music and Día de los Muertos this month.
Now-Oct. 31: The 17th annual Autumn at the Arboretum is the Southwest’s favorite fall festival, and this year features a Fall Fairy Tale theme and showcases the return of Cinderella’s carriage, along with the nationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village featuring 20-foot-tall, decorated pumpkin houses. Other “gourd-eous” displays are based on the classic tales of Jack and The Beanstalk, The Three Little Pigs, and The Sword in the Stone. Expect to see breathtaking colors of fall in the form of 150,000 fall flowers—marigolds, chrysanthemums and more throughout the 66-acre garden. Find more at dallasarboretum.org.
Now-Oct. 23: Celebrate all things Texan at the State Fair of Texas––the longest-running fair in the nation. The 24-day event promotes Texas agriculture, education and community involvement and brings hundreds of shows, games, carnival rides, live concerts, livestock shows, exhibits and a finger-licking spread of every fried food imaginable to historic Fair Park. The theme of this year’s fair is “Treats of Texas,” and new attractions include a redesigned parade, a kids’ DJ dance party, and the return of the State Fair Rodeo. Premium daily admission is $24 and season passes start at $50. More at www.bigtex.com.
October 6-9: Spin around the dance floor and sip some Texas wine at the 36th Annual Gruene Music and Wine Fest, benefiting the United Way of Comal County. This annual event unfolds at The Grapevine and Gruene Hall and features the very best in Texas music and wine. Enjoy wine and craft beer tastings from Texas wineries and breweries, jam out to live music throughout the day, and enjoy nightly headliners including Josh Abbott on Thursday night, Pat Green on Friday night and The Lost Gonzo Band on Saturday night. Purchase tickets and find out more at www.GrueneMusicandWineFest.org.
South Padre Island
Oct. 6-9: Celebrate more than three decades of magical sandcastle sculpting on the beautiful beaches of South Padre Island at the 34th annual Sandcastle Days. This free family-friendly event began as a way to demonstrate the sculpting qualities of South Padre Island sand and the critical importance of protecting the beautiful coastal shores. Over the years, it’s grown into a qualifying event for the World Championships of Sand Sculpting, where more than 30,000 fans come to watch the sand come alive. At Clayton’s “The Biggest Beach Bar in Texas,” you’ll also find live music, art booths, great food and more. More at www.sandcastledays.com.
Oct. 7-9; Oct. 14-16: Austin City Limits Festival is one of the nation’s largest live music celebrations, bringing a diverse lineup of more than 100 musical performances on nine stages over two weekends in Zilker Park. Headliners for this year’s festival are The Chicks on Friday nights, P!NK on Saturday nights and Red Hot Chili Peppers on Sunday nights. Purchase tickets (One-day general admission tickets start at $145, one-day GA+ tickets start at $250, one-day VIP tickets start at $550 and one-day platinum tickets start at $2,100) and find out more about the lineup, schedule, ACL Eats, ACL Fest Nights, Austin Kiddie Limits and more at www.aclfestival.com.
Oct. 7-9, 13-16, 21-23, 28-30: Celebrate Beachtober this fall in Port Aransas with family-friendly, fall-themed happenings every weekend throughout the month of October. Signature Beachtober events include the Port A Live Music Weekend featuring a series of concerts taking place at various venues throughout the weekend (Oct. 7-9), the Taco & Margarita Trail and Shoptoberfest (Oct. 13-16), the Port Aransas Wooden Boat Festival (Oct. 21-23) and Halloween happenings with a side of sand and sea (Oct. 28-30). More at https://www.portaransas.org/events/festivals-and-annual-events/beachtober/.
Oct. 8-9: Take a trip to this tiny town for the Scarecrow Festival, which welcomes the fall season to Washington County. At the family-friendly fall festival, expect live music, hundreds of juried arts and craft vendors and activities for all ages. Located directly between Austin and Houston on Highway 290, the Chappell Hill festival is free to attend and takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. More at www.chappellhillhistoricalsociety.com.
Oct. 14-16: Get grooving at the 61st annual Texas Jazz Festival –– a free admission, all-ages-welcome event unfolding at Heritage Park boasting three stages of live swing and blues, delicious eats and treats, and incredible local vendors throughout the festival market. At Texas Jazz Festival, the longest largest free running festival in the world, jazz lovers can look forward to listening to returning artists such as Jeff Lofton and Kyle Turner as well as new featured artists this year like Left Hand Devil and Michelle Garibay-Carey. More at https://www.texasjazz-fest.org/.
Oct. 29: Mexican culture is deeply rooted in this coastal town, and Corpus Christi’s Día de los Muertos Festival is one of the most anticipated events of the year. The 15th annual Día de los Muertos Festival takes place in the heart of downtown where participants commemorate deceased loved ones with colorful customs and pageantry. This solemn yet joyous event includes family-friendly activities such as live music, dance performances, educational talks, workshops, and beautiful face paintings. More at https://www.diadelosmuertoscc.com/.
Oct. 21-22: Head to the Texas Coast for Galveston’s premier fall festival –– the 40th annual Island Oktoberfest. The German-filled, family-friendly weekend features top polka entertainment from The Tuba Meisters, Isaak Klaus and the Lederhosen Junkies, The New Braunfels Gemischter Chor Harmonie and more, an expanded menu of authentic German food, biers and wine, a Kidz Zone, a chicken dance contest, arts and crafts and more. The festival is free and German attire is encouraged. More at www.galvestonoktoberfest.com.
Oct. 28-30: Saddle up for the 31st anniversary of the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering at the Fort Worth Stockyards. The three-day event offers a true authentic western experience in the form of a wagon train, nightly ranch rodeos, invitational team roping, a chuck wagon competition, cowboy music and poetry, a Western swing festival, youth events, a trapping show and more. The Cowboy Trapping & Trade Show and Chuck Wagon Cook-Off are free to the public, but purchase tickets (prices vary) and find out more at www.redsteagallcowboygathering.com.
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Oct. 29-30: Día de los Muertos is San Antonio’s beloved cultural event, and Muertos Fest returns to Hemisfair for a 10th year of celebration. The festival is free and open to the public, bringing together traditional art and culture with music and entertainment to celebrate Day of the Dead. Festivities include live music, a dance, drum and puppet procession, original artwork, live poetry and the largest open alter exhibition in San Antonio. The two-day celebration takes place from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturday and noon to 9 p.m. on Sunday. More at https://muertosfest.com/.