Photo by Marc Lee

School might be back in session for the kids, but there's still plenty of fun to be had all across Texas in September. Can't decide where to take a quick vacation, road trip, or staycation? Here are 11 events, exhibits, special celebrations, and hotel happenings around the state to help plan a getaway for Labor Day or any September weekend excursion.

In North Texas

The State Fair of Texas begins its run in Dallas at the end of September, with 24 days of live music, carnival games, fried food creation competitions, and more. Luckily for CultureMap readers, here's a thorough guide to getting every possible discount at the fair this year. For example, visitors can get $10 admission on opening day for bringing two jars of peanut butter for the North Texas Food Bank. The State Fair runs September 29-October 22.

In a historic U.S. debut, almost all of the known surviving artworks by the legendary Mexican artist Abraham Ángel will be put on display at the Dallas Museum of Arton September 10, honoring the young artist's brief life and three-year career. Ángel's work embodied the ever-changing culture of his country in the early 20th century. Between Wonder and Seductionwill be on display until January 28, 2024. Admission to the museum is free, but special exhibition tickets are $15.

In East Texas

Cavalry Court, a retro-inspired boutique hotel in College Station, has all of the amenities for a perfect weekend mini-vacation to bring in the fall season: a resort-style pool with private cabanas, live music, its signature Canteen Bar and Grill, and an outdoor pavilion. The hotel is also situated less than 10 miles from the famed Messina Hof Estate Winery for any further exploration of the city. Rates begin at $149 per night.

If East Texas’ Piney Woods region is calling your name, this resort community is the place to be: High Hill boasts luxurious experiences with rental properties sprawling over 200 acres of land. Take your pick among a bungalow suite, private bungalow, or a multi-bedroom vacation home. Also available are on-site vineyards, a relaxing spa, and Côte, a high quality farm-to-table restaurant. Starting rates are $295 for a double queen room and $275 for a king room.

Along the Gulf Coast

A luxurious Port Aransas vacation community is providing a few special discounts just in time for Labor Day and beyond. For the long holiday weekend, Cinnamon Shore is offering reduced pricing for a three-night minimum stay, with four homes left for the weekend at various price points. Don’t forget to check their Labor Day Weekend Fun schedule highlighting special family-friendly events like movies under the stars and community cookouts, or live music and yoga classes for the adults. From September 5-October 4, guests can also enjoy 50 percent off their third night at one of the Cinnamon Shore rental properties after booking a minimum two-night stay using their code Fall2023. Rates for a one-bedroom home range from $940 to $1,600, and five to eight-bedroom homes range from $4,050 to $7,550.

For a more comprehensive look at all of the seaside options along the Texas coast for Labor Day weekend, from Galveston to South Padre Island (including Cinnamon Shore), check out these Gulf Coast getaways.

In West Texas

One of the best steakhouses in Texas is celebrating its 40th anniversary with a new historic art installation. The award-winning Perini Ranch Steakhouse in Buffalo Gap, a small town about half an hour southwest of Abilene, will celebrate this landmark anniversary with a new outdoor exhibit that showcase the history of the town and the restaurant through photography, while also serving as a "love letter" to the American West. The collection will include several photos of Buffalo Gap from Lisa and Tom Perini's private collection. The exhibit, on display September 28-October 28, will be open to the public, and restaurant reservations can be made on their website.

In Austin

ThePecan Street Festival, a twice-yearly arts festival, is returning to downtown Austin on September 16-17. Over 300 local artisans and vendors will be selling their handmade art, crafts, clothing, and more in booths lined along 6th Street between Brazos Street and I-35 for the weekend. Live performances by local musicians are also scheduled throughout the weekend. The festival is free.

A fascinating new exhibition of beautifully aged books on display at The Harry Ransom Center at The University of Texas at Austin is a bibliophile’s dream. The Long Lives of Very Old Books shares the histories of 15th through 17th century books through their physical attributes and treatment within the hands of time. Both prominent titles and esoteric finds are put under the spotlight. The exhibition is on display until December 30. Admission is free.

In the Hill Country

San Antonio’s Hyatt Regency Hill Country Resort and Spa has a special Labor Day event lineup for families looking for a weekend escape. On Saturday, September 2, the resort will host a Texas-themed barbecue and country music. On Sunday, September 3, guests can enjoy a Fiesta-themed buffet with mariachi music. Besides excellent guest service and luxurious experiences, this newly renovated, award-winning resort has also prioritized its convenient location to several San Antonio attractions, such as SeaWorld and the downtown Riverwalk. Rates begin at $394 per night.

If bringing in the fall months with a glass of wine in hand is your preference, consider visiting Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, a winery less than half an hour from Fredericksburg. Three special events will help patrons embrace the month of September: a six-winery tasting tour, dubbed The Heroic Hye Wine Hunt, on September 2; and the release of a 2020 GSM Mélange wine on September 8. Plus, visitors can celebrate International Port Wine Day with a tasting of the Texas Ruby port-style dessert wine on September 10. Tickets for the wine hunt are $30, and reservations for tastings can be made via Tock or by emailing tastingroom@pedernalescellars.com.

For six weekends beginning September 23 until October 29, the family-friendly Dripping Springs Pumpkin Festival is returning to its home grounds at the Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead for its third and final year before moving to a new location. Each weekend has its own festive theme and special events, and costume-wearing is encouraged. Of course, no pumpkin fest is complete without its signature pumpkin patch. Tickets are $15, and admission is free for children under 3 years old and for seniors aged 65 and up.

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'The twinkliest town in Texas' and 6 other Hill Country locales become Christmas wonderlands


Though chance encounters with childhood sweethearts rarely happen between sips of hot cocoa, feeding one's most jolly Hallmark fantasies is perfectly fine. And let's face it, those warm fuzzies aren't always easy to find amongst San Antonio's seasonal glitz. That kind of holiday feeling is a decidedly small-town affair.

If you only get fresh air from a fourth-story balcony, it's time to head on a Texas road trip. Throughout December, the Hill Country rolls out the twinkle lights and garlands to give city slickers some Christmas razzle-dazzle. Unpack a cozy sweater, cue a playlist, and fire up the sleigh.

Dripping Springs
Though much of the season is geared around kids, the many distilleries, wineries, and breweries clustered around Dripping Springs offer some holiday fun for the adults. Hire a van to bop around some of Texas' most spirited spots, including Jester King Brewery, Vista Brewing, Desert Door Sotol, and Deep Eddy Vodka. If nap time doesn't completely waylay plans, Christmas on Mercer on December 2 is the perfect place for some buzzed shopping.

With its historic buildings and rows of quaint shops, Fredericksburg always seems ready to break into an Irving Berlin ditty. During Christmastime, the streets erupt into a full production number. Through January 7, 2024, the town's market square hosts a daily lighting ceremony showcasing tales of Fredericksburg's German heritage and Christmas carols. The Marktplatz also offers an ice-skating rink and one of Texas' most dazzling selfie spots: a 26-foot tall wooden spinning Christmas pyramid.

Forget Stars Hollow. Rory and Lorelai Gilmore's hometown wishes it could conjure up half the Yuletide magic as this Austin suburb. Visit the weekend of December 1 and 2 to catch the annual Christmas Stroll. The town's downtown hosts a family friendly festival with vendors, live music, a parade, and plenty of festive food each year. And the Snow in the Park event ensures a White Christmas.

Johnson City
Johnson City's reputation as the "twinkliest town in Texas" isn't a mere boast. Its downtown display, illuminated through January 7, 2024, is truly a spectacle with over two million bulbs glittering in the night sky. The Blanco County Courthouse is the sparkling hub of several community events throughout the season. Don't miss the annual chili cook-off on December 9, sponsored by some of the Hill Country's best wineries and distilleries.

Marble Falls
Sure, it sounds like a third grader's fever dream, but bumper cars on ice are actually a thing in Marble Falls — offering slip-sliding fun for those who have never heard of a salchow. Less bumpy are the other activities, from a pop-up s'mores bar on December 1 to weekend market days.

New Braunfels
Maybe it's the easygoing river lifestyle, but New Braunfels has always played by its own rules. That's especially true of the holiday season when kids are delighted by visits from the chaps-clad Cowboy Kringle instead of good ole Saint Nick. That individualistic spirit carries over to the town's schedule of events, including a one-person telling of Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol on December 3 and caroling at the Natural Bridge Caverns.

This charming hamlet has no shortage of holiday diversions like the annual Trail of Lights, a walking tour running through December 26. But before the stroll, expect to open the wallet. Wimberley Square is teeming with one-of-a-kind shops selling everything from boho Western gear to French country home goods. The hospitality scene is no slouch, either. Grab a quick pie at Community Pizza or splurge on shellfish and champagne at RR12 Supper Club.

Georgetown Christmas

Georgetown's downtown decked in its holiday finest.

Here are the top 7 things to do in San Antonio this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Holly jolly happenings and live entertainment are on the schedule for the days ahead. Enjoy a tree lighting and seasonal festivities at La Cantera Resort & Spa, or settle in for an evening in conversation with Priscilla Presley. Check out the top seven things to do in San Antonio this weekend. For a complete list of events, go to our calendar.

Thursday, November 30

La Cantera Resort & Spa presents a Holiday Tree Lighting
The annual Holiday Tree Lighting ceremony returns to La Cantera Resort & Spa. Highlights of the evening include appearances by Santa and the Grinch, light bites, festive cocktails, children’s activities, and more. Guests will also get to enjoy a Vegas-style revue and live musical performance by jazz vocalist and saxophonist Patrick Lamb in the resort’s lobby plaza. For more details, go to lacanteraresort.com.

Ballet San Antonio presents The Nutcracker
Photo by Marty Sohl Photography

Ballet San Antonio presents The Nutcracker now through December 10.

The Light Park
Cruise into an illuminated wonderland with millions of lights synchronized to holiday music classics with the entire family at Retama Park. The Light Park is a one-mile, drive-thru experience complete with dazzling light displays portraying the magic of the winter holiday season. For more information, go to thelightpark.com. The Light Park is open through January 1, 2024.

Majestic Theatre presents This Is Important Live!
The co-creators and stars of the popular Comedy Central show Workaholics will host their podcast, This is Important, in front of a live audience at Majestic Theatre. The group, comprised of Adam Devine, Anders Holm, Blake Anderson, and Kyle Newacheck, will dive into and discuss a myriad of not-so-serious topics facing society, ranging from naked grandmas to grown men fighting children. Pick your seats for this hilarious evening of conversation at majesticempire.com.

Friday, December 1

Somos Cultura y Más presents "Posadas y Poinsettias"
Celebrate Mexican heritage and traditions through food and educational activities at Mi Familia at the Rim. Visitors can enjoy specialty cocktails, posada games, and more while raising funds for Dia de los Niños and Somos storytellers programming. Guests will also get to take a special gift home to commemorate the evening. Get your tickets at somosculturaymas.org.

Majestic Theatre presents Elf in concert
Enjoy a holiday film favorite with a live music twist at Majestic Theatre. Guests will enjoy a screening of Elf, starring Will Ferrell, accompanied by a live-to-picture playing of John Debney’s score. Get tickets and more information at majesticempire.com.

Ballet San Antonio presents The Nutcracker
Get lost in a world of holiday wonder and whimsy when you enjoy The Nutcracker performed by the talented dancers of Ballet San Antonio. This production at Tobin Center for the Performing Arts features a children’s cast of more than 100 youth dancers, and will be accompanied by music from the San Antonio Symphony. Showtimes are scheduled through December 10. To purchase tickets, go to balletsanantonio.org.

Saturday, December 2

Empire Theatre presents An Evening with Priscilla Presley
The original first lady of rock ‘n’ roll, Priscilla Presley, comes to Charline McCombs Empire Theatre for one night only. Audience members can listen to Presley’s retelling of her teenage years, her romance and marriage to Elvis, her early years as a mother, and more. Go to majesticempire.com for more information.

San Antonio's famous Western museum reprises art sale with history of pieces under $1k

art on the horizon

As it closes out 2023 and prepares for the future, the Briscoe Western Art Museum has an exciting lineup of events over the next few months. The marquee event is the annual Night of Artists exhibition and sale in March 2024, which transforms the museum into a vibrant showcase of contemporary Western art and culture.

Marking the Briscoe's 10th anniversary as a public institution, the Night of Artists brings together more than 280 new works by more than 85 artists. Starting with an Annual Briscoe Bison Society Collectors Summit and opening weekend dinner, the museum becomes a stage filled with the talent, passion, and vision of today's leading Western artists.

From paintings and sculpture to mixed media, the diversity of contemporary Western art will be on full display — non-collectors may view this as a good opportunity to check out new art before it disappears again into private collections.

Collectors will have a chance to participate in an auction (with estimated prices as low as a few thousand dollars and up to $50,000) and a popular "Luck of the Draw Sale" that makes things a little more accessible with fixed prices. The 2023 gallery featured prices as low as $650, and it appears that many pieces did not sell — so competition may not always be fierce.

What visitors will see
The event catalog features a dynamic range of contemporary visions of the American West. Viewers can expect to see works from artists like Teal Blake, who leverages his knowledge of ranching and cowboy culture to create intimate paintings of cowboys and ranch life.

Visitors will also find Gladys Roldan-de-Moras' passionate images of Spanish culture, Liang Yong's historically accurate Native American portraits, and Kevin Red Star's modern interpretations of heritage and identity on display.

Beyond appreciating the artworks, Night of Artists offers a feast for the senses. The opening weekend includes an elegant preview dinner and live auction, followed by Saturday's grand exhibition opening reception. For Western art enthusiasts, collectors, and the culturally curious, the Night of Artists is a premier destination event.

"Night of Artists highlights the continued vibrancy and relevance of Western art," said Briscoe president and CEO Liz Jackson in a press release. "Thanks to Night of Artists, talented artists, and dedicated enthusiasts, the museum is one of the preeminent homes of Western art in the world."

Following the opening weekend on March 22 and 23, the Night of Artists public exhibition and sale runs March 24 through May 5, 2024. Right now, the museum is asking interested parties to save the date; Tickets are not yet available, but they are expected to sell out.

More opportunities to experience the Briscoe
You don't have to wait until next year for a taste of the Briscoe's offerings. The museum has a slate of exhibitions and programs lined up for the end of 2023.

  • Now until January 22, 2024 — Photographer Anouk Masson Krantz's exhibition "American Cowboys" includes evocative images of real-life cowboys.
  • November 30 — The Briscoe will screen the documentaryExposing Muybridge, about pioneering photographer Eadweard Muybridge.
  • December 3 — Cowboy Santa visits the museum on a free-entry day filled with crafts and a scavenger hunt.