It’s no surprise that a state the size of Texas has its fair share of festivals, particularly in its dynamic city hubs such as Austin, Houston and Dallas.
The sprawling Lone Star State looms large on the USA’s southern border, its landscape as varied as it is vast, with its sandy coast, sun-dappled pine forests and rolling rocky plains. But this is also a part of the world teeming with man-made enticements, and among them are a huge number of festivals that take place every year, spanning everything from craft beer celebrations to arts festivals, plus all the rodeo shows you might expect. Here’s our rundown of the best Texan festivals to look out for.
Washington’s Birthday Celebrations
First held way back in 1898, this almost month-long event marks the birthday of Founding Father George Washington, who served as the first President of the United States. The largest celebration of its kind anywhere in the country, it is comprised of various festivals and activities that draw almost half-a-million attendees each year. Perennial highlights include a Society of Martha Washington Colonial Pageant and Ball, two colourful parades, a carnival, an airshow, fireworks, live concerts, and a citywide prom during which may of the Laredo elite dress in Colonial attire for the occasion.
Venues across Laredo / 10 January – 7 February 2022
Kerrville Renaissance Festival
Taking place in the beautiful and bucolic surroundings of the Texas Hill Country, the Kerrville Renaissance Festival is an immersive, family-friendly experience that transports visitors into a land of unforgettable fantasy and fun. Among the array of entertainment are captivating Viking demonstrations and magical escape artistry, along with playful games, delectable food, and shops filled with quality hand-made products, not to mention live musical acts performing across multiple stages.
River Star Arts & Event Park, Kerrville / 28 January-5 February 2022
First conceived in 1937, this annual fiesta commemorates the area’s Mexican heritage on both sides of the Rio Grande, and is named in honour of the “Charro” – the moniker historically given to swashbuckling Mexican cowboys. The festival offers street parties, live music, parades, dances, races, a bullfight, a rodeo, a concert, kids’ rides, traditional Mexican food, and a grand ball, while residents and visitors alike come for the occasion dressed in the traditional costumes of Mexico.
Venues across Brownsville / 19-27 February 2022
Prison City Film Festival
Inspired by the town of Huntsville’s multiple prisons, this action-packed film festival features a diverse mix of screenings, including full-length films, shorts, documentaries, music videos, and trailers, along with special presentations, Q&As, open discussions, receptions networking events, and more. The event’s grand finale comes in the form of a spectacular awards ceremony, where movies across a variety of categories go head-to-head for prestigious baubles.
Old Town Theatre, Huntsville / 23-26 February 2022
Mardi Gras of Southeast Texas
One of the state’s biggest and best music festivals take place in the southern Texas seaport city of Port Arthur each year. Over the course of the four-day festival, a mix of national, regional and local performers showcase their musical gifts across a handful of stages, with a wide variety of genres represented, including Top Forty/Pop, Jazz, Cajun/Zydeco, Blues, Country, R & B/Soul, Rock, Rockabilly and Variety. Other activities include parades, a carnival and games.
Downtown Beaumont / 24-27 February 2022
North Texas Irish Festival
Celebrating the rich musical, dance, and cultural heritage of Irish and other Celtic influences across the United States, the North Texas Irish Festival has been attracting tens of thousands of music-lovers for over three decades. Indeed, renowned bands such as Jigsaw and The Irish Rogues can trace their roots directly to the festival’s inaugural edition held back in 1983. There’s also plenty of food and drink to enjoy while you tap your toes to the music.
Fair Park, Dallas / 4-6 March 2022
Houston Kosher Chili Cookoff
The largest kosher food event anywhere in Houston, the Houston Kosher Chili Cookoff attracts thousands of attendees who come to celebrate the fellowship of the city’s large Jewish community with a fun-packed day of food, live entertainment, contests, and family-friendly activities, all while raising funds for local non-profit Jewish organisations. Among the main event’s main highlights each year are a moonwalk, climbing walls, balloon artists, a jalapeno-eating contest and a raffle.
Congregation Beth Yeshurun, Houston / 6 March 2022
Texas Storytelling Festival
Stories brimming with humour, honesty and a whole lot of heart take centre stage at this annual festival, whose modus operandi is to entertain, inspire and lift appreciation for the places you’ve lived or dreamed of. Today the event continues to grow, drawing visitors and participants from Texas and far beyond, while also hosting educational and engaging workshops on how to tell stories. The festival’s 37th edition will be hosted virtually in 2022, giving you the opportunity to hear these tales while sitting in the comfort of your living room. Hear ghost stories, Texas tales, a liars contest, sacred stories, a story slam, and so much more. In addition, participants can attend workshops to hone their own storytelling skills.
Venues across Denton / 10-13 March 2022
South by Southwest Festival
One of the world’s biggest annual festivals, South by Southwest is an all-embracing celebration of three of the major creative arts – film, music and comedy – focussing on the growing ability of digital and interactive technologies to bring these mediums to life. Artists, industry professionals and fans from across the globe descend on Austin for the event, which has grown from just one-night to a 10-day whirlwind of events and activities designed to shine a light on both emerging and established talent in the creative fields.
Venues across Austin / 11-20 March 2022
San Antonio Folk Dance Festival
This long-running, family-oriented, intergenerational festival includes a three-day workshop with teaching sessions, dance parties and a ticket to the event’s flagship concert performance. Activities for youth and adults immerse visitors in the love and advocacy of folk dance where one can gain a new appreciation for other cultures. As for the concert, it typically showcases up to 14 different cultures through live music, demonstrating the talent and energy of local performing folk dance groups, plus special guests.
Our Lady of the Lake University & International Folk Culture Center, San Antonio / 25-27 March 2022
Texas Sand Fest
The largest event of its kind anywhere in the US, Texas SandFest is an action-packed, internationally recognised, three-day family festival that draws some of the world’s most inventive sculptors together with tens of thousands of visitors to the city of Port Aransas on Mustang Island on the Texas coast. As well as the amazing sand sculptures, there’s also an array of food, live music, and kids activities, along with shopping for jewellery, arts & crafts, clothing, furniture, souvenirs & more.
Port Aransas / 8-10 April 2022
Poteet Strawberry Festival
One of the oldest traditions of the city of Poteet, this festival celebrates the area’s famous strawberry gardens that were first set up here in the 1920s. Today the event routinely draws about 100,000 attendees with its non-stop entertainment and live music from nationally known Country and Tejano performers and local bands. There are also gunslingers, carnival midway, and rodeo performances, along with the showcasing of locally grown agricultural products including food items featuring delicious local berries.
Five Cousins Strawberry Patch, Poteet / 22-24 April 2022
Kerrville Folk Festival
The Kerrville Folk Festival is a magical, transformational experience. What makes this so? Some say love, music that speaks to the heart, and some say it’s a world of its own. Attendees come from 40 states, and several foreign countries. Upon arrival, everyone is greeted with, “Welcome Home”, where life is simpler, kinder, and musical. Songwriters are booked to play and many past performers just return for the experience. Sometimes you may recognise the artist on stage as one you heard at a campground song circle the night before – it’s that kind of place.
Quiet Valley Ranch, Kerrville / 26 May-12 June 2022
Children’s Art and Literacy Festival
The perfect way to introduce your kids to the magic and wonder of art and literature, this popular festival invites visitors to attend dramatic presentations, special performances, art activities and much more over three full days. Organised with the help of local artists, cultural organisations, businesses and volunteers, among the highlights each year are a Storybook Parade and Artist Talk, along with book readings, costumed characters, art activities, animals, magic shows, balloons and movies.
Downtown Abilene / 9-11 June 2022
Rockport Art Festival
Artists from across America showcase their works in a variety of styles – both analogue and digital – at this distinguished juried fine arts event. Since 1969, the festival in the scenic surroundings of Aransas Bay on the Texas Gulf Coast has made Rockport the best place to be on the Fourth of July weekend, with high-quality artists, live music, a kid’s activity tent and more. The event is also non-profit making, with all proceeds going to benefit the Rockport Center for the Arts.
Festival Grounds at Rockport Harbor, Rockport / 2-3 July 2022
Since debuting in 2014, Float Fest has swiftly become a must-attend visit for tubing, camping and live music enthusiasts. Held at a scenic private ranch surrounded by the Guadalupe River, the two-day summer event features an outstanding line-up of musical acts spanning a range of genres from indie-pop and electro to hip hop and progressive rock , plus lashings of fun in the sun – both in and out of the water – and great camping in natural shade. attendees can bring their own floats to splash around in summer Texan sun. Festivalgoers are invited to bring their own floats and traverse up to two miles of the river at their leisure.
Cool River Ranch, Gonzales / 23-24 July 2022
In recent decades the Japanese animation art-form of Anime has grown from a niche interest to a full-blown cultural phenomenon. In Dallas, its stratospheric rise is celebrated at AnimeFest, where visitors can come and learn about Anime, meet like-minded enthusiasts along with professional and amateur Anime artists, attend workshops, listen to panel discussions, peruse hundreds of tables of merchandise, and generally immerse yourself in this fascinating – and often subversive – artistic genre.
The Sheraton Hotel, Dallas / 29 July – 1 August 2022
Out of Bounds Comedy Festival
Anyone that attended the inaugural edition of Out of Bounds in 2002 will be blown away by how it has grown – not to mention delighted that its much-loved miniature golf tournament has remained a cherished fixture on the schedule. Today it has blossomed into a truly international event, held across 7 days, 6 venues and boasting over 500 performers and 130 shows. Comedy talent from across the world now descend here each year to perform improvised acts, sketch shows, podcast recordings, and stand-up, all with a strong emphasis on local talent.
Venues across Austin / 1-7 September 2022
Westfest Czech & Polka Festival
Amble into the city of West’s downtown district and before long you’re likely to notice the numerous Czech bakeries, gift shops and antique stores dotted along its streets. Not for nothing is the city known as the Czech Heritage Capital of Texas. Celebrating the Czech culture that is so deeply ingrained here, this annual festival has been a regular fixture on the city’s events calendar since 1976. Offering a friendly welcome to all-comers, visitors can enjoy authentic Czech food, arts and crafts, live music and energetic polka dancing.
West Fair and Rodeo Grounds / 2-4 September 2022
Fort Worth Oktoberfest
The 19th-century German tradition of Oktoberfest has spread like wildfire across the world and the Fort Worth edition, which brings a mouth-watering slice of Germany to Texas, is celebrated with as much fervour as anywhere. The star of the show is inevitably the authentic German food and craft beers, which can be eaten and imbibed in traditional pop-up biergartens dotted throughout the festival venue. There’s also live music, dancing, Dachshund races, clothes to purchase, and souvenirs.
The Shack at Panther Island Pavilion, Fort Worth / 22-24 September 2022
Anyone with a penchant for the hotter things in culinary life is invited to indulge in a fiery food experience as ZestFest brings together the spiciest exhibitors and products from around the country for one sizzling weekend. The ultimate party for bold and flavourful food enthusiasts, the event features cooking demos by celebrity chefs, live music, interactive contests and thousands of bold food samples. It also provides an opportunity for companies to showcase their wares in front of both consumers and key industry players.
Irving Convention Center, Irving / 30 September-2 October 2022
Austin City Limits Music Festival
Firmly established as one of the world’s biggest music festivals, Austin City Limits – named after the venerable television series – is spread across two long weekends and plays host to an elite line-up of international names, both old and new, each year. Taking place in Austin’s Zilker Park, stages range from small and intimate to stadium size, with all popular genres represented. As well as the glittering roster of live music acts, there’s also an arts market and a huge food court.
Zilker Park, Austin / 7-9 & 14-16 October 2022
Texas Rose Festival
Rose-growing has been a major industry in the city of Tyler for decades. This three-day annual event celebrates the importance of roses in the local economy, drawing thousands of visitors to the city each year. Rich in heritage and tradition, there are enchanting ceremonial events – including the Queen’s Coronation, Ribbon Cutting and Rose Presentation, the Queen’s Tea, and the Rose Parade – all amid a backdrop of brilliant roses. Events and displays centre around the famous Tyler Rose Garden, but extend all over the city.
Venues across Tyler / 13-16 October 2022
Mind-blowing performances and breathtaking West Texas Hill Country sunsets await revellers at another legendary Texas music festival. Held in the spectacular setting of a natural amphitheatre, the family-friendly event has earned a reputation as an antidote to the large multiple-stage festivals that all too often favour quantity over quality. Showcasing a selection of creative artists beyond the mainstream, there’s something for every music taste, from bluegrass to R&B and soul, while in addition to the music there’s also lake swimming, biking, hiking, yoga, workshops, disc golf and a silent disco.
Reveille Peak Ranch, Burnet / 14-15 October 2022
Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest
Fredericksburg is well-known for its food and wine scenes, so it’s no surprise that the city hosts several culinary events each year. Among the biggest and best is the Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest, which sees Marketplatz transformed into a gastronomic paradise, with a wide variety of Texas-made products available for sampling and purchase, plus more than two dozen wineries showcasing their wares. All of this, together with live music, cooking demonstrations, specialty booths and a silent auction, make this a must-visit for any Fredericksburg foodie.
Downtown Fredericksburg / 22 October 2022
Founded in 2008 as Austin Psych Fest, the independent event sparked a movement, inspiring the creation of similar events across the globe. After being renamed LEVITATION in honour of Austin’s psychedelic rock pioneers The 13th Floor Elevators, in 2018, the festival returned to its downtown Austin roots as a walkable, intimate and community-focused event that showcases the city’s world-renowned music venues. Today it has grown into an epic 4-day weekend of music and art to Austin’s diverse Red River District and east side venues and art spaces.
Carson Creek Ranch, Austin / 27-30 October 2022
Texas Book Festival
When it comes to enjoying books, you can never be too young. In fact, statistics show that the more books in a household, the better the life chances of the children who live there. Each year the Texas Book Festival plays a key role in inculcating young and old alike with a passion for all things bookish with this two-day literary celebration. The event features a rich programme of readings, panels and book signings, along with cooking demonstrations, live music, local food trucks, children’s activities, and more.
Venues across Austin / 5-6 November 2022
Lights All Night
New Year’s Eve in Texas presents a myriad of great opportunities for celebrating in style – but for dance music fans, there’s only one place to be, and that’s Lights All Night. Split across four stages including the 360° Disco Galaxy Stage filling the room with a sensational constellation, the event is renowned for its spectacular light installations. Alongside the epic music and arresting visuals, the festival also has its very own immersive digital arts lounge and fun-filled gaming lounge.
Dallas Market Hall, Dallas / 31 December 2022