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. So pick a recommended festival below that appeals to you, and start planning your trip to the great state of Texas.
You can’t call yourself a true Texan if you haven’t been to this festival 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. During the nearly month-long event, Big Tex invites you to enjoy everything from live music and carnival rides to good eats and art shows. Of course, the highlight of the fair is the annual Texas—Oklahoma football game. The fair is held in Dallas at Fair Park.
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.
Staged between Galveston and Port Aransas, the Harvest Moon Regatta is one of the largest port-to-port sailboat races in North America. Every year near the end of 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.
Started in 1933, the Texas Rose Festival occurs during the third weekend in October and has become part of the fabric of life in Tyler. The Texas Rose Parade is just part of the fun, which also includes the Queen's Coronation Ball, the Roses in the Park concert, and the Rose Show featuring more than 7,000 rose blooms. There are a parade, arts and crafts vendors, "Queen's Tea," and, of course, a rose display. Don't forget to check out the Tyler Rose Museum while visiting the “Rose Capital of America.”
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, which takes place the second weekend of October, 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.
In addition to screening more than 180 big-budget and independent films during the eight-day festival, 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 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 one-day festival offering food and wine sampling, an auction, games, and live entertainment. Look for special events such as Thursday's Go Texan! Dinner, Friday's Celebration of Texas Food and Wine and Saturday's Patron Party.
Held in Madisonville—known as Texas’ mushroom capital—the one-day 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.
Take a trip back to the 16th century at the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission. 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, plus the festival lasts almost the entire month of October (and nearly all of November). In addition to the Oktoberfest theme, each following weekend has its own theme. The event began in 1974 and now draws more than half a million guests annually.
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. 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.
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.
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 over two weekends in Zilker Park, with late-night concerts at smaller venues around Texas’ capital city.