October is one of the best months to visit the Lone Star State. Not only is the weather cool and comfortable, but a variety of events and festivals in Texas are scheduled for almost every weekend in October. Whether you are headed to a big city like Dallas or Houston or a small town like Conroe or Fredericksburg, you'll find plenty of October fun in all corners of Texas.
State Fair of Texas
A trip to Texas in the fall isn't the same without stopping at this festival at Fair Park in Dallas, Texas. Inaugurated in 1886 and running annually from late September through late October, the State Fair of Texas is the largest fair and stock show in the state. The official mascot, Big Tex, invites you to enjoy everything from live music and carnival rides to good eats and art shows. Of course, in a football-crazy destination like Dallas, a highlight of the fair is the annual Texas-Oklahoma football game.
The 2020 festival has been modified into a drive-thru event, taking place on weekends from September 25 until October 18. Advance tickets are required to attend and guests will be able to drive through the midway and pick-up traditional fair food along the way, even getting a photograph with Big Tex along the way. If you bring a blanket, you can also park and have a little picnic with your meal.
Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival
You may think you’re in Louisiana, but this festival is actually in Texas (Conroe, Texas, to be exact). At the Conroe Cajun Catfish Festival from October 9 to 11, 2020, you can try great Cajun food vendors that cook up boudin, alligator, jambalaya, étouffée, crawfish pie, and, of course, plenty of catfish. The festival, which began in 1990, also features arts and crafts vendors, a carnival, exhibits, and some foot-tapping Cajun and Texas musical artists who perform on three stages. Advance tickets can be purchased online and are required in 2020 to enter.
Take a trip back to the 16th century at the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission outside of Houston. With hundreds of daily performances, arts and crafts shops, food and beverage shops, nightly fireworks, and costumed characters strolling the grounds, it’s considered the country’s largest Renaissance festival. Although it’s not technically considered an "Oktoberfest," the opening weekend of the Renaissance festival has an Oktoberfest theme with free-flowing beer to enjoy.
The festival lasts from October 3 through November 29, 2020, but no tickets will be sold at the gate. Attendees must pre-purchase tickets online for a specific date, and daily tickets will be limited (the only exception is for seniors, students, military, and first responders, who can purchase discounted tickets at the entrance).
Austin Film Festival
In addition to screening more than 180 big-budget and independent films during the eight-day celebration of film from October 22 to 29, 2020, the Austin Film Festival’s goal is to honor the writer as the heart of the creative process in filmmaking. Both amateur and professional screenwriters gather for the four-day screenwriters' conference featuring internationally known writers, directors, actors, and producers. Past attendees include Joel and Ethan Coen, Robert Altman, Wes Anderson, and Oliver Stone.
The 2020 festival is going to be held virtually, meaning it is available to a wider audience than ever before. You can purchase a virtual movie pass and stream the festival films right from your own living room, in addition to panels and Q&A sessions with the filmmakers.
This three-day Texas festival is based in the Czech and German settlement of Flatonia and has been held annually since 1973. The name comes from a play on the word “Chili” with the addition of the “z” making it look like Czech spelling, and ending with the German word spiel meaning play.
Czhilispiel draws some of the best chili and barbecue cook-off teams from around the state to compete on the fourth weekend in October. This fun event also features a beard contest, pie-baking contest, parade, carnival, a 5K run/walk, beer garden, car and truck show, and live music.
Most activities for the 2020 festival are canceled, including the main chili events. A few activities are still scheduled, such as the 5K run on October 24 and a small-scale parade on October 25, 2020, but the main festivities plan to return in 2021.
Harvest Moon Regatta
The Harvest Moon Regatta is canceled in 2020.
Staged between Galveston and Port Aransas, the Harvest Moon Regatta is one of the largest port-to-port sailboat races in North America. Every October, more than 250 participants sail overnight under October’s full moon and celebrate at an afterparty. Lakewood Yacht Club sponsors this annual event which started in 1987.
The Houston Italian Festival is canceled in 2020.
Since 1978, the Houston Italian Festival, Festa Italiana, has celebrated Italian heritage, culture, food, and romance. Held on the grounds of the University of St. Thomas, the event has now grown to be the largest ethnic festival in Houston. The four-day festival features live entertainment, bocci ball, a grape stomp, wine and beer tasting, a pasta-eating contest, Italian food, and more. Proceeds support the Italian Cultural and Community Center, the Italian language school, scholarships, and cultural events.
Texas Rose Festival
The Texas Rose Festival is canceled in 2020.
Started in 1933, the Texas Rose Festival has become part of the fabric of life in the city of Tyler, about an hour and a half outside of Dallas. The weekend festival takes over the town and is anchored by a Saturday morning parade, but also includes the Queen's Coronation Ball, the Roses in the Park concert, and the Rose Show featuring more than 7,000 rose blooms. Don't forget to check out the Tyler Rose Museum while visiting the “Rose Capital of America.”
Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest
The Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest is canceled in 2020 and returns October 21–23, 2021.
The annual Fredericksburg Food & Wine Fest has been held in downtown Fredericksburg since 1990. Fredericksburg, the little German town in the Texas Hill Country, draws foodies to the Marktplatz for this Saturday festival, offering food and wine sampling, an auction, games, and live entertainment. Look for special events such as the pre-festival Go Texan! Dinner, the Celebration of Texas Food and Wine, and the Patron Party during the festival.
Texas Mushroom Festival
The Texas Mushroom Festival is canceled in 2020.
Held in Madisonville—known as Texas’ mushroom capital—the Texas Mushroom Festival features mushroom-growing demonstrations, beer and wine tasting, a car show, children's activities, and the Shitake 5K run/walk. You can also enter contests for cooking, photography, and art. The gala dinner is especially delightful with a champagne social, four-course meal with Texas wine pairings, a live auction, and live music.
Austin City Limits Music Festival
The Austin City Limits Music Festival is canceled in 2020.
One of the largest and most popular music festivals in Texas, as well as in the country, the Austin City Limits Festival features more than 130 performing acts offering a mix of music from various genres. Founded in 2001, the event takes place in Zilker Park, with late-night concerts at smaller venues around Texas’ capital city.
Texas Rice Festival
The Texas Rice Festival is canceled in 2020.
Since 1969, the Texas Rice Festival has been held in Winnie every October to celebrate the harvest of the rice crop. The week-long event features a barbecue cook-off, pageants, food, a carnival, car show, livestock and horse show, arts and crafts, and live music from top Texas and Nashville entertainers.