While summer may be on its way out, September’s lineup of Texas festivals is still sizzling. From Texas-sized fairs and rodeos to coastal celebrations, here are 10 towns boasting not-to-miss festivals taking place in the Lone Star State throughout September.
Sept. 8-17: If you love festivals, saddle up for 10 days of wall-to-wall food and fun at the annual West Texas Fair and Rodeo taking place at the Expo Center of Taylor County. At this old-fashioned country fair and PRCA rodeo, expect everything from fearless bull riders and classic carnival rides to tractor pull contests, livestock exhibits and live music. Hours are 4 to 11 p.m. on weekdays and 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Saturdays. Gate admission is $8 for adults and $4 for kindergarten through college students on weekdays ($11 and $4 on weekends). Rodeo tickets and carnival rides are extra. More at www.taylorcountyexpocenter.com/events/west-texas-fair-rodeo.
Sept. 24: The Abilene Pride Alliance, the heart and home of the LGBTQIA community for Abilene and the Big Country, will put on its inaugural PRIDE parade and festival in the middle of historic Downtown Abilene starting at 2 p.m. Saturday. The parade route begins on North 1st and Pine streets. After the parade, the PRIDE festivities will move to the Festival Gardens at Nelson Park (across from the Abilene Zoo) at 3 p.m. Expect vendors, musical entertainment and various events leading into the evening drag show. More at https://www.abipride.com/.
SEPT. 15-18: Celebrate the grapes at the 36th Annual GrapeFest, one of the best festivals for sampling Texas wines. Grapevine is home to the Texas Wine & Grape Growers Association and Texas’ premier Urban Wine Trail, featuring a variety of award-winning winery tasting rooms. GrapeFest offers four days of family-friendly festival fun with live music and entertainment on multiple stages, a carnival midway and shopping at local Main Street boutiques, galleries and select vendors. Single-day admission is $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and children 6-12 (admission is free on Thursday). More at www.GrapeFest.com.
Sept. 15-18: Since 1988, the Annual HummerBird Celebration has paid homage to the spectacular fall migration of the Ruby-throated hummingbird. This year’s keynote speaker is Richard Crossley, an internationally acclaimed birder, photographer and award-winning author. Birding enthusiasts can expect special presentations, boat tours to see the area’s amazing shore birds, bus birding trips, bird photography classes and more. Find more information and tickets at www.rockport-fulton.org/HB.
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Sept. 22-25: The annual Bastrop Music Festival, featuring more than 40 performances across four days with bands playing in venues along the lower Colorado River, unfolds in the heart of Historic Downtown Bastrop. Shows run simultaneously at various venues with nighttime performances starting at approximately 6 p.m. Daytime activities are free and open to the public and include live music at the box office location and free shows specifically geared toward children. A variety of musical genres are represented in the lineup, which includes Beatnik Bandits, Big Cedar Fever, Deezie Brown and more. This year’s tickets range from $40-$100. More at https://bastropmusicfestival.com/.
Sept. 22-25: Rainbow-hued orbs will fill the skies and there will be plenty of fun on the ground when the H-E-B/Central Market Plano Balloon Festival & Run comes to Oak Point Park & Nature Preserve. Tickets to the 41st anniversary event are now on sale for $10 for adults and $5 for ages 3-12 and seniors ages 65 and up. Admission is free for children 36 inches and under and for all military and first responders who present a valid ID. Plano’s balloon festivals are typically three days long, but this year’s event has expanded to four days with festivities kicking off at 5 p.m. on Thursday with a family-friendly concert followed by a balloon glow at 7:45 p.m. Expect tethered hot air balloon rides, the Texas Parachute Team, bands, fireworks, and the Plano Balloon Festival Half Marathon, 10K, 5K and 1K. More at https://www.planoballoonfest.org/.
Sept. 23-24: If you love seafood festivals, mark your calendar for the 13th annual Galveston Island Shrimp Festival which brings two full days of shrimp, music, friends and fun to Galveston’s Historic Strand District. Sample some of the best shrimp gumbo on the Gulf Coast along the Gumbo Stroll at this coastal celebration. Other activities include a Shrimp Scamper 5K fun run, Lil’ Shrimps Parade, live music, plenty of vendors, a strand merchant walk-about, a rum punch contest and more. Purchase tickets and view the schedule at www.galvestonislandshrimpfestival.com.
Sept. 23-24: Belton’s Bacon, Blues and Brews festival is a trifecta celebration of those very things –– bacon, blues music and craft brews –– which unfolds on the town’s courthouse square at 101 E. Central Avenue over two days. The outdoor festival features live entertainment, adult beverages and a bacon cook-off between local food trucks, and the winner takes home a cash prize. The festival runs from 5 to 9 p.m. Friday and 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturday. Find more at www.seebelton.com or by calling 254-933-5849.
Sept. 24: The 41st Medina Lake Cajun Festival brings Louisiana’s music, food and culture to the Texas Hill Country. During the one-day festival that takes place from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m., the Lakehills Community Center transforms into a little slice of Cajun Country. Festivalgoers can dance to Cajun and Zydeco bands playing on two stages, sample gumbo in the Great Gumbo Cook-off, fill up on the best homemade Cajun food on this side of Louisiana, enjoy an arts and crafts show, and take part in kid-friendly activities. Admission is $15 and free for children 10 and under. More at www.cajunfestival-medinalake.com.
Sept. 24: Calling all mermaids to the sixth annual Mermaid Capital of Texas Fest. San Marcos’ Mermaid Promenade & Downtown Street Faire brings floats, marchers, dancers, music and freshwater mermaids together at this free family-friendly community festival featuring art, live music, food and fun. This all-inclusive city parade celebrates San Marcos’ history of the Aquamaids of Aquarena Springs and immortalizes the mermaid as guardians of the San Marcos River. More at www.mermaidsocietysmtx.com.
Sept. 30-Oct. 23: Celebrate all things Texan at the State Fair of Texas––the longest-running fair in the nation. The 24-day-long fair promotes Texas agriculture, education and community involvement and brings hundreds of shows, games, carnival rides, 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.
If You Go
Abilene is 3.5 hours from Austin.
Grapevine is 3 hours from Austin.
Rockport is 3 hours and 15 minutes from Austin.
Bastrop is 45 minutes from Austin.
Plano is 3.5 hours from Austin.
Galveston is 3.5 hours from Austin.
Belton is 1 hour from Austin.
San Marcos is 30 minutes from Austin.
Lakehills is 2 hours from Austin.
Dallas is 3 hours from Austin.