September marks the start of a new series in Austin Travels Magazine that aims to spotlight 10 fun-filled festivals and events unfolding across the Lone Star State each month. While summer’s heat might be beginning to wane, September’s lineup of festivals is still sizzling hot. From Texas-sized fairs and rodeos to coastal celebrations, here are 10 not-to-miss festivals taking place in Texas 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.
Sept. 4-5: Spend Labor Day weekend in the Cowboy Capital of the World at the Bandera Roundup. The two-day family-friendly event features a longhorn cattle drive and Cowboy Capital parade down Main Street at 11 a.m., arts and crafts, live music and two Bandera ProRodeos that take place both evenings at Mansfield Park Rodeo Arena. Find out more and purchase rodeo tickets ($10 adults, free for 12 and under) at www.banderaroundup.com.
Sept. 9-18: 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. 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. 16-19: Celebrate wine at the 35th Annual GrapeFest – A Texas Wine Experience, presented by Bank of the West, Sept. 16-19. This year’s theme, Texas Wine. Come and Taste It!, invites you to sip your way through delicious wines from Texas, California’s Napa Valley and South Australia’s Barossa Valley. The largest wine festival in the Southwest U.S., 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. 16-19: The 33rd Annual HummerBird Celebration pays homage to the spectacular fall migration of the Ruby-throated hummingbird. In 2020, the event went virtual due to COVID–19, but at this year’s live event, expect special presentations, boat tours to see the area’s amazing shore birds, a “nature only” vendor store and a chance to discover what’s new for the birding enthusiast. Enjoy a reception, breakfast or brunch and don’t miss the Hummer Homes Tour to see the hummers stocking up at feeders as they prepare for their amazing trip to their winter home. Find more information and tickets at www.rockport-fulton.org/HB.
Sept. 18-19: Pecan Street Festival, a free two-day arts festival held twice yearly in downtown Austin’s Sixth Street Historic District, takes place on Saturday, Sept. 18, from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, Sept. 19, from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. At the juried festival that attracts hundreds of local and national artisans offering original handcrafted creations in a variety of mediums, you can also expect some of Austin’s top musical acts, food vendors and kid-friendly activities. Due to the current COVID-19 advisory, masks are encouraged, and the festival will have testing stations and hand sanitizer available throughout the area as well as a vaccination tent provided by FEMA. More at
Sept. 24-25: 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 (101 E. Central Ave., Belton) over two days. The outdoor festival kicks off with food trucks and music from The Damn Torpedoes, a Tom Petty tribute band. The bacon cook-off, where teams compete with bacon-inspired dishes, is on Saturday, followed by Jay White & The Blues Commanders, The Blue Louie Band and Texas Flood, a Stevie Ray Vaughn tribute band. Bold Republic and other breweries will be on site selling cold beer throughout the event. Find more at www.seebelton.com or by calling 254-933-5849.
Sept. 24-25: Galveston Island is known as a seafood paradise year-round, but the 12th annual Galveston Island Shrimp Festival will bring 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 that includes a Shrimp Gumbo Cook-Off, 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. 25: Abilene Pride Alliance presents its first-ever pride parade in Abilene – Denim and Diamonds. Pull on your boots and scoot downtown to kick off what is anticipated to become an annual tradition celebrating all identities with a historical, groundbreaking event. Gussy up for this one-of-a-kind pride parade celebrated with a Texas twist. Due to the COVID-19 Delta variant, participants are being asked to wear masks, stand in socially distant pods and be vaccinated. APA is partnering with the Taylor County Health District to provide vaccinations free of charge and free literature about vaccination. More at www.abipride.com/pride-2021.
Sept. 25: The annual Medina Lake Cajun Festival has been rolling out the good times for 40 years, bringing 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, where visitors can dance to Cajun and Zydeco bands playing on two stages, sample gumbos in the Great Gumbo Cook-off, fill up on the best homemade Cajun food on this side of Louisiana from crawfish pies and etouffee to jambalaya and red beans and rice, enjoy an arts and crafts show and kids activities. Admission is $15 and free for children 10 and under. More at www.cajunfestival-medinalake.com.
Sept. 25: San Marcos is officially titled “The Mermaid Capital of Texas” and you can help live out the town’s unique river and artistic culture at its 5th Annual Mermaid Promenade & Downtown Street Faire. Although many of the typical events can’t take place due to COVID safety concerns, the downtown parade will feature floats, marchers, dancers and music with freshwater mermaids being the focal point of the 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 with parade highlights including the Mermaid SPLASH Royal Court. The promenade takes place from 10 a.m. to noon and the downtown street faire keeps the fun going from noon to 8 p.m. Guests are being asked to spread out and enjoy the parade safely and masks are encouraged. More at www.mermaidsocietysmtx.com.
If You Go
Bandera is 2 hours and 15 minutes from Austin.
Abilene is just over 3.5 hours from Austin.
Grapevine is 3.5 hours from Austin.
Rockport-Fulton is 3 hours from Austin.
Belton is an hour from Austin.
Galveston is 3 hours, 40 minutes from Austin.
Lakehills is just over 2 hours from Austin.
San Marcos is just under 40 minutes south of Austin.