October festivals: 10 top Texas celebrations to check out

By: Mauri Elbel
October, 2021

Fall blew in an exciting lineup of October festivals celebrating everything from sandcastles and scarecrows to German heritage and Texas music. Here are 10 Texas towns sure to thrill this month.

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.

South Padre Island

Watch the sand come alive in South Padre this month. Credit Sandcastle Days

Now-Oct. 3: The 33rd annual Sandcastle Days celebrates over three decades of magical sandcastle sculpting on the beautiful beaches of South Padre Island. The 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. This year’s event will take place at a new location, Clayton’s “The Biggest Beach Bar in Texas,” and boasts live music, art booths, great food and more. More at www.sandcastledays.com.

Austin

ACL Music Fest happens the first two 3-day weekends in Oct. Credit Roger Ho

Oct. 1-3; Oct. 8-10: 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 eight stages over two weekends in Zilker Park. This year’s six-day festival will include headliners George Strait and Miley Cyrus on Fri. nights, Billie Eilish and Rüfüs Du Sol on Sat. nights, and Tyler, the Creator and Duran Duran on Sun. nights. ACL Eats features plenty of Austin favorites to keep you fueled. A printed copy or a negative COVID-19 test result obtained within 72 hours of first entering ACL Festival each weekend or proof of full COVID-19 vaccination will be required to attend. More at www.aclfestival.com

Georgetown

Oct. 1-3: Celebrate Popptoberfest just up the road in Georgetown. Three days of festival fun includes live musical performances by Dysfunkshun Junkshun on Fri., Brave Combo, Two Tons of Steel and Dale Watson on Sat., and The Peterson Brothers on Sun. You can also expect artisans, a food court, pet parade, car show, touch-a-truck and kid’s fun zone at this free, family-friendly event taking place Fri. from 6 to 9 p.m., Sat. 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. and Sun. 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Social distancing and masks indoors or when you can’t distance is encouraged. More at https://visit.georgetown.org/popptoberfest/

Fredericksburg 

This year marks the 40th anniversary of Fredericksburg’s Oktoberfest. Credit Robbyn Dodd

October 1-3: For Oompah at its best and plenty of German food, bier and music, head to the Polka Capital of Texas during the 40th anniversary of Oktoberfest. At this festive celebration of German heritage unfolding on MarktPlatz in downtown Fredericksburg, you’ll find three days of live German music on five stages, bratwurst, sauerkraut, turkey drumsticks and more, a Kinderpark, OkTUBAfest, waltz and yodel contests, family dirndl and lederhosen contests, an Oktoberfest Rotary Kraut run/walk, and more. Hours are 6 p.m. to midnight Fri., 10 a.m. to midnight Sat., and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sun. Tickets are $10 for adults, $1 for children 7-12, and children 6 and under are free, or you can purchase 2-day passes for $15 and 3-day passes for $20. More at oktoberfestinfbg.com.

Chappell Hill 

Oct. 9-10: Take a trip to this tiny town to take part in the Scarecrow Festival, which welcomes the fall season to Washington County and has blossomed over the years to attract thousands of visitors who come to enjoy a family-friendly fall festival complete with live music, hundreds of juried arts and craft vendors and activities for the entire family. Located directly between Austin and Houston on Hwy. 290, the Chappell Hill festival is free to attend and takes place Sat. from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sun. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. More at www.chappellhillhistoricalsociety.com.

RELATED: September festivals

Plano

Oct. 16-17: The Plano Dallas Music & Arts Festival, presented by Bud Light, GO TEXAN and Outlaw nation, brings major concerts, contemporary art displays, a classic car show, a custom motorcycle show and dozens of fun attractions and highlights to beautiful Oak Point Park. Check out the Taste of Texas Food Garden, with delicious cuisine and cold domestic and craft beers. A weekend pass to this family-friendly festival taking place from 10:30 a.m. to 8:30 p.m. both days is just $10 when purchased online and children under 12 are free. More at https://planoartsfestival.com/

Dale

Old Settler’s Festival is back this year. Credit Amy E. Price

Oct. 21-24: Grab your festival gear and get ready for four days of music, camping, community and connection on 145 acres of rolling festival grounds. Jamestown Revival, Jade Bird, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Sam Bush, Bob Schneider and James McMurtry are just some of the headliners for the 34th annual Old Settler’s Music Festival. Observance of all current COVID-19 protocols will be followed, including proof of vaccinations or negative test results within 48 hours of entry for every participant aged 12 or older. Old Settler’s Music Festival offers a variety of passes and permits, from individual single-day festival passes to VIP Admission. More at https://oldsettlersmusicfest.org/

Galveston 

Oct. 22-23: Galveston’s premier fall festival –– the 39th annual Island Oktoberfest –– returns bigger and better than ever with two days of German-style, family-friendly fun. Expect a traditional German Oktoberfest with an island twist at this free event chock-full of German food and bier, two stages of continuous entertainment, German-themed contests, the chicken dance, an expanded kids’ zone with children’s activities, shopping and more on Fri. from 5 to 10 p.m. and Sat. from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the grounds and streets adjacent to First Lutheran Church on 24th and Winnie in historic downtown Galveston. The event is free and German attire is encouraged. More at www.galvestonoktoberfest.com.  

RELATED: Galveston’s FeatherFest

Fort Worth

Oct. 22-24: Gallop to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District for the 30th anniversary of the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering, attended by approximately 25,000 to 35,000 people annually throughout the 3-day event. Expect a Cowboy Trapping & Trade Show, Chuck Wagon Cook-Off, a nightly Ranch Rodeo, Cowboy Music, Western Swing Dances, Cowboy Poetry, Invitational Team Roping, youth contests and more. Ticket prices vary. More at www.redsteagallcowboygathering.com.

San Antonio

Oct. 23-24: Día de los Muertos is San Antonio’s beloved cultural event, and Muertos Fest returns to Hemisfair for a ninth year with a two-day celebration from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Sat. and noon to 9 p.m. on Sun. Recognized as one of the “7 Best Fall Festivals in the U.S.A.” by National Geographic, this two-day outdoor event spread across the grounds of Hemisfair is free and open to the public and brings together traditional art and culture with live music and entertainment to celebrate the Day of the Dead. Festivities include live musical performances, original artwork, a dance, drum and puppet procession, live poetry and the largest open altar exhibition in San Antonio. More at https://muertosfest.com/.

If You Go

Getting there:

South Padre is 5.5 hours from Austin. 

Georgetown is 30 minutes from Austin.

Fredericksburg is 1.5 hours from Austin.

Chappell Hill is less than 2 hours from Austin.

Plano is 3.5 hours from Austin.

Dale is 1 hour from Austin.

Galveston is 3.5 hours from Austin.

Fort Worth is 3 hours from Austin.

San Antonio is less than 1.5 hours from Austin.

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