Just like the wildflowers that line the Texas highways, every spring a profusion of festivals sprout up across the Lone Star State. Before hot weather settles in, Texas towns take advantage of the temperate days with festivals that celebrate the season. Whether your interests run from barbecue to bluebonnets, polka to Maipole dancing, you’ll find an event that welcomes your family to join the fun. Following is a bouquet of 12 celebrations to put some spring in your step as you travel Texas. For more Texas festivals, visit traveltex.com.
Round Top Antiques Fair
March 28-April 2
Visitors in search of such vintage visions ranging from McCoy cookie jars to Bakelite bracelets will find themselves in the presence of the past at the Round Top Antiques Fair. For close to 50 years, the tiny town's population of 90 has welcomed those who want to 'go retro' each spring (with another festival held in the fall). Shoppers can mull over merchandise on display in the air-conditioned comfort of The Big Red Barn Event Center, the Carmine Dance Hall and the original Continental Tent, or browse outdoors along miles of booths. Visit roundtoptexasantiques.com.
Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas
Once a part of Stephen F. Austin's original colony, in the small town of Chappell Hill not only do the roots of Texas history run deep, so do the roots of the state's official flower. For over half a century, the community blossoms with visitors each April for a salute to floral finery. Deemed the Official Bluebonnet Festival of Texas by the Texas legislature, the event includes live music, an array of children's activities, tours of the town, shopping for gardening items, home decor and jewelry among more than 250 vendor booths, and a cluster of wildflower photographs at the Chappell Hill Museum Exhibit Gallery. Visit chappellhillmuseum.org/bluebonnet.html.
Linden Wildflower Trails of Texas Festival
The botanical beauties that blanket East Texas take center stage at the Linden Wildflower Trails of Texas Festival. Held on the town's courthouse square each April, the two-day event is a perennial favorite that includes a flower show and traditional festival events such as a quilt show, a car show, and a 5K run. Wildflower seeds and information is also dispensed at the hospitality booth. Visit lindenwildflowertrails.net.
Scarborough Renaissance Festival
April 9-May 30
photo by David Truong
We may "spring forward" as the season changes, but each April and May festival fans in Waxahachie have the chance to "fall back" as time rewinds to the days of King Henry VIII at the Scarborough Renaissance Festival. For eight weekends, the entrance to 35 acres of woodlands transforms into a portal to the past where visitors can find all sorts of escapist entertainment ranging from jesters, jugglers and jousting knights to strolling minstrels, a mermaid lagoon, and a mythical monster museum. Visit srfestival.com
Port Neches RiverFest
April 27-May 1
An annual veneration of velocity, the Port Neches RiverFest is the only tunnel boat racing event in Southeast Texas. Known as "Thunder on the Neches," the exciting action on the water just skims the surface of the family-oriented fun during the five-day event. A treasure hunt, carnival, live musical entertainment, and a fishing tournament are just a few of the activities that will accelerate the excitement for attendees at this festival held in Port Neches near Port Arthur. Visit pnriverfest.com.
Wills Point Bluebird Festival
In the words of a classic song, "Life is sweet, tender and complete/ When you find the bluebird of happiness." The best place to find the bird that will put a song in your heart is in tiny Wills Point, located near Canton, just north of I-20. Each April, amateur ornithologists flock to the official Bluebird Capital of Texas for the Wills Point Bluebird Festival, a day dedicated to our fine-feathered friend. The event includes traditional activities such as a carnival, car show, a kid zone and arts and crafts, as well as bus tours to check on bluebird nest boxes at Lake Tawakoni State Park. Visit willspointbluebird.org.
Texas Crawfish and Music Festival
April 29-May 1 and May 6-8
For the past three decades, foodies have enjoyed a crustacean celebration in Old Town Spring. Taking place over the course of two weekends in late April and early May, the Texas Crawfish and Music Festival serves up a virtual gumbo of zydeco, rock and country tunes, family-oriented fun at the carnival and tasty seafood treats. Visit texascrawfishfestival.com.
Texas Crab Festival
photo by Ulysses Serna
Foodies with a hunger for a seafood celebration can satisfy their craving each Mother's Day weekend at an event that could be considered the mother of all Gulf Coast crustacean-themed shindigs, the Texas Crab Festival. The three-day Crystal Beach bash, which began back in 1986, offers a virtual menu of family fun which includes a Texas 2-step dance contest, wiener dog races, a crab bag toss tournament, live country, rock and zydeco tunes, and a gumbo cook-off. Visit texascrabfestival.org.
League City Music Festival
Charity takes center stage when chart-topping country acts perform each year at the League City Music Festival. Sight First Leader Dogs for the Blind, Texas Lions Camp for Disabled Children and Lions Eye Bank of Texas are just a few of the non-profit organizations which have benefitted from the two-day May event, which also includes a carnival, kid zone, and a smokin’ BBQ cook-off. This year's music lineup includes Clint Black and The Bellamy Brothers. Visit lcmusicfest.com.
Brenham may have gained fame as the home of a popular brand of ice cream, but each May thoughts turn to German cuisine during Maifest. For over 125 years, damsels in dirndl dresses and lads clad in lederhosen have welcomed visitors to a two-day celebration which includes Maipole dancing, German music, a carnival and much more. Visit maifest.org.
National Polka Festival
photo by Patrick Michels
Flower power brings travelers to The Official Bluebonnet City of Texas every spring, but while you’re there don’t miss a chance to celebrate symbols of Czech culture at the National Polka Festival. Held every Memorial Day weekend in the town of Ennis, the festival's 50th anniversary year in 2016 will offer a golden opportunity to "Czech out" the kolache eating contest, a parade through town, street polka dancing, and the oompah sounds of 19 polka bands. Visit nationalpolkafestival.com.
T-Bone Walker Blues Fest
If blues music, rather than bluebonnets or bluebirds, makes your spirit take flight, head to Longview for the T-Bone Walker Blues Fest. Taking place in early June, the two-day tribute to the late Texas tunesmith attracts giants of the musical genre, and encourages the next generation through guitar workshops and a Junior Showcase. A car and cycle show appeals to those more interested in six-cylinder engines rather than six-string guitars. Visit tbonewalkerbluesfest.com.