October is blowing in fall fun with festivals celebrating everything from pumpkins and scarecrows to German heritage and Texas wines. Here are 13 Texas towns sure to thrill you this month.
Now–Oct. 31: For the 14th year, Autumn at the Arboretum will highlight the nationally acclaimed Pumpkin Village featuring pumpkin houses and creative displays utilizing more than 90,000 pumpkins, gourds and squash at the Dallas Arboretum and Botanical Garden. “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” is the theme of this year’s festival, where guests can pick the perfect pumpkin and snap selfies with Charlie Brown, get lost with Pig-Pen in the hay bale maze and visit the "Peanuts" gang at their gourd-decorated schoolhouse. More at dallasarboretum.org.
Now-Oct. 31: Galveston’s ghostly history makes it one of the top destinations in the country for haunted travel, and October is one of the best months to visit. From its storied harbor and 108-year-old “haunted” Hotel Galvez to its thrilling lineup of Haunted History, Ghost Bus and Graveyard tours, Galveston is especially spooky this time of year. Book a Haunted Sunset Cruise ($20 adults/$17 youth on Oct. 12, 19 and 26), embark on one of Dash Beardsley’s Ghost Tours of Galveston ($20 adults/$15 children 10 and younger) or tour through the Moody Garden’s Ghostly Gardens on Oct. 26 (free). More at galveston.com/haunts.
Oct. 25-26: Galveston Island’s 38th annual Oktoberfest celebrates German heritage with a full weekend of authentic German food and beer, two stages of continuous entertainment, German-themed contests, an expanded kids zone, shopping and more on Friday from 5 to 10 p.m. and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. on the grounds and streets adjacent to First Lutheran Church on 24th and Winnie in historic downtown Galveston. The event is free, and German attire is encouraged. More at galvestonoktoberfest.com.
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Sept. 30-Oct. 5: Shop from an enormous assortment of one-of-a-kind antiques at the annual Fall Antique Week in tiny Round Top. General admission for the Fall Round Top Antiques Fair is $10 (free for children under 12), open from 1 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday and 9 p.m. to 5 p.m. all other days. More at roundtoptexasantiques.com.
South Padre Island
Oct. 3-6: The 32nd annual Sandcastle Days celebrate more than three decades of magical sandcastle sculpting on the beautiful beaches of South Padre Island. The family-friendly event has grown from a local celebration to a qualifying event for the World Championships of Sand Sculpting, now drawing more than 30,000 fans who come to watch the sand come alive. The free event takes place at Clayton’s Beach Bar and Grill and boasts live music, great food and buckets of family fun. More at sandcastledays.com.
October 4-6: For oompah at its best and plenty of German food, beer and music, head to the Polka Capital of Texas during Oktoberfest. At this festive celebration of German heritage unfolding on MarktPlatz in downtown Fredericksburg, you’ll find live German music, artisans, a Kinderpark, OkTUBAfest and more from 6 p.m. to midnight Friday, 10 a.m. to midnight Saturday and 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $8 for adults and $1 for children 7-12; children 6 and under are free. More at oktoberfestinfbg.com.
Oct. 4-5, 18-20 and 25-26: Fall is one of the best times to visit the fabulous Frio River. Fill up at the Fall on the Frio BBQ Cookoff on Oct. 4-5 at the Frio Country Resort. At Fall Festival on the Frio on Oct. 19, find all the autumnal fun you can handle in the form of pumpkin patches, live music, craft vendors, kids activities and local food trucks. Or gather the whole family for the Frio Family Camp Retreat (Oct. 18-20) featuring classic camp activities as well as unique adventures. Stick around to get spooked this year at Neal’s Haunted Hayrides (Oct. 25-26). More at visituvaldecounty.com/events.
Oct. 5-6: Celebrating 50 years, the Cottonwood Art Festival is a juried show featuring more than 240 artists who exhibit and sell their museum-quality work in an array of categories spanning mixed media, ceramics, painting, photography, sculpture and more. The free festival takes place in Cottonwood Park on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and offers kid-friendly fun thanks to the ArtStop for pint-size Picassos. More at CottonwoodArtFestival.com.
Oct. 10-13: The 33rd annual Gruene Music & Wine Festival combines the best wine, music and food Texas has to offer during a four-day festival that benefits the United Way of Comal County. Averaging over 100 different Texas wines and over 80 different beers, guests can simply move from one booth to another to find their favorite instead of driving all over the state. All events throughout the weekend are 21 and up. Both Gruene Hall and the Grapevine provide stages for great Texas music throughout the weekend. More at gruenemusicandwinefest.org.
Oct. 11-27: Get spooked in Georgetown during a Downtown Ghost Tour on Oct. 11 and 12 at 7:30, 8, 8:30 and 9 p.m., the Annual Nightmare on Jail Hill Haunted House from 7 to 11 p.m. on Oct. 18-19 and 25-26 or the kid-friendly ninth annual Boo Bash on the Georgetown Square on Oct. 27 from 1 to 4 p.m. More at visit.georgetown.org.
Oct. 12: The 15th annual Plano International Festival celebrates Plano’s wide tapestry of cultures at Haggard Park downtown. The free event will showcases the rich cultural diversity of the city through multicultural displays, entertainment, music, performances, food, activities and more to promote cultural awareness. More at planointernationalfestival.org.
Oct. 12-13: Take a trip to this tiny town to take part in the Scarecrow Festival, which boasts more than 250 juried exhibitors, delicious country-style food, live entertainment, tours of the historic community and a heap of children’s activities. The free, family-friendly event takes place from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday. More at chappellhillhistoricalsociety.com.
Oct. 25-27: Gallop to the Fort Worth Stockyards National Historic District to celebrate at the nation’s premier western heritage event known as the Red Steagall Cowboy Gathering & Western Swing Festival. Celebrating the history, traditions, values, lifestyles and working skills of men and women who make their living horseback and working cattle, this 29th annual event offers all-ages fun, including cowboy poetry and music, western swing dances, rodeo finals and more. Ticket prices vary. More at redsteagallcowboygathering.com.
Oct. 26-27: This year, Día de los Muertos San Antonio expands out of La Villita into Hemisfair. Hailed as “one of 10 great Day of the Dead celebrations” in the world by USA Today, this free two-day, family-friendly event, popularly known as Muertos Fest, blends traditional Day of the Dead art and culture with a curated lineup of alt-Latino music, old-school conjunto legends and more. The heart of Día de los Muertos San Antonio remains the exhibition of altars lining the streets and walkways and other activities including a dance, drum and puppet procession, multiple stages of entertainment, workshops, a children’s area and an art market with over 40 vendors. More at visitsanantonio.com/event/dia-de-los-muertos-san-antonio.