Dallas-Forth Worth may not have the displays of autumnal color for which New England is known, but fall brings a welcome respite from the heat that notoriously plagues it during summer. Cooler temperatures beckon locals out of their air-conditioned homes for State Fair shenanigans, Halloween celebrations, pumpkin picking, and more. There is plenty to do in Dallas-Forth Worth during fall.
Many events have been altered or canceled in 2020, so check the websites of organizers for updated information.
The Dallas Arboretum is home to one of the most impressive fall floral festivals in the Southwest. Autumn at the Arboretum showcases 150,000 autumn flowers and its highly anticipated Pumpkin Village features 20-foot-tall "houses" and other displays made of nearly 100,000 pumpkins, squash, and gourds. In 2020, the magnificent, pumpkin-centered exhibition will be held from September 19 to November 1.
The weeks leading up to Halloween are optimally spooky with the abundance of haunted houses dotted around Dallas-Fort Worth. Cutting Edge is a local favorite, cramming a wealth of zombies, ghosts, goblins, and ghouls into a century-old, multi-story meat-packing plant in Fort Worth's "Hell’s Half Acre." Other popular haunted attractions include Dark Hour, whose shows revolve around the theme Witch of Coven Manor (closed during the 2020 Halloween season), and Hangman's House of Horrors, inspired by the legend of executioner Hezekiah Jones.
Fall in the U.S. is synonymous with football, and Dallas is home to one of the most beloved NFL teams in the nation. Cowboys fan or not, catching a game at AT&T Stadium is a can't-miss autumn activity. For noon kickoffs, stadium parking lots open as early as 8 a.m. for boozy pregame celebrations. For 7 p.m. kickoffs, they open at 2 p.m. Oftentimes, big-name country musicians will rile up the crowd before or during the game.
The State Fair of Texas has been a Dallas tradition for more than a century. It attracts 2.5 million people with its award-winning cream corn casserole fritters, football, and classic carnival rides. The event is overseen—literally—by a giant, boot-clad cowboy named Big Tex, a cultural icon since the '50s. Other highlights include the Starlight Parade, big musical acts (including Billy Ray Cyrus, Rick Springfield, and Big and Rich in the past), and the Texas Skyway, a gondola that stretches 1,800 feet across the park. In 2020, the State Fair of Texas has been rebranded as a Big Tex Fair Food Drive-Thru featuring all the fair delicacies (kettle corn, corn dogs, fried Oreos, etc.) on weekends through September and October.
Pumpkin picking is an all-American fall activity and Dallas-Fort Worth has a bounty of patches where you can select your own. Some are located on actual farms and feature season-appropriate activities like corn mazes, hay rides, trains, food, and petting zoos. Some favorites include The Pumpkin Patch at First Christian Church (closed for the 2020 season), Yesterland Farm, Preston Trail Farms, and Mainstay Farms, which also has an abundance of picture-perfect sunflowers.
Unlike other cities around the U.S., Dallas-Fort Worth maintains its warm temperatures through autumn. Fall is the perfect climatic opportunity to catch a movie in the park. Klyde Warren Park kicks off its annual al fresco film series in the summer and doesn't wrap it up until December, usually featuring Halloween and Christmas favorites.
- October 3: "The Wizard of Oz"
- October 24: "Ferris Bueller's Day Off"
- November 14: "The Lego Movie"
- November 21: "Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets"
- December 19: "Elf"
In 2020, Movies in the Park have been canceled.
Food plays an important role in Texas culture, and this three-day festival pays tribute to the state's culinary staples: barbecue, Tex-Mex, Creole/Cajun, and more. The annual Food + Wine Festival showcases local chefs and vintners in the setting of historic Fort Worth venues. In addition to providing some of the best bites in North Texas, proceeds from the event go toward a good cause. The festival has raised more than $200,000 in grants and scholarships for local culinary students. In 2020, the event has been canceled.