By Trent Jonas
The second largest state in the U.S. by area, Texas has plenty of natural splendor to offer its locals and guests. One of the best ways to enjoy it? With one of the Lone Star State’s many excellent outdoor festivals held throughout the year. From fishing fiestas to the “birdiest” birding events around, here are the 10 best outdoor festivals in Texas!
Having just said that thing about not being a spectator, you’d think that a music festival is one of the last things that would pop up on this list. However, Float Fest is a music festival with A-list headliners that also happens to involve a carnival, camping and floating on the San Marcos River. Sponsors include Curl’s RV Rental, Fairfield Inn & Suites, and Cascade Blonde American Whiskey.
From August 10-11, Pampa plays host to the amazing Top O’Texas Rodeo. This event is perfect for everyone in the family. Activities and events at the rodeo include bareback bronco riding, calf roping, steer wrestling, barrel racing, and much more. The rodeo includes a free barbecue dinner for those with tickets as well as a rodeo dance performance.
The biggest mountain bike festival in the Lower 48’s biggest state is the Campe Eagle Classic near Rocksprings. All events take place on Camp Eagle’s huge, single-track-webbed acreage. In addition to the multiple MTB events, the weekend also holds waterfront fun, rock climbing, meals, bonfires and even a swing with a caliche pit. This event is a landmark event thanks to Too Cool Racing, Pint & Plow Brewing Co., Flat Rock Ranch, and more.
In the fall, almost as many birders flock to Harlingen as do birds. The attraction? The Rio Grande Valley Birding Festival. An annual event for more than a quarter century, the festival attracts birders with guided field trips, seminars, socials, a trade show, and of course, all the migratory birds that pass through the valley in the autumn. Bird Watcher’s Digest, King Ranch, Zeiss and Swarovski Optik are among the festival’s major sponsors.
Every year, 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats use the Ann W. Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin as a seasonal home. And near sundown each night during their residency, the bats take to the sky for a night of hunting and whatever else bats do. To celebrate this nightly sojourn, the folks of Austin hold their annual Bat Fest on the bridge. Activities include bat watching, a bat costume contest, kids’ actitivities, live music, vendors and food. Rebecca Creek Distillery, Soulciti , Austin 360 app, and more keep this festival running.
Every summer, folks who enjoy hunting, shooting and fishing head to Houston for the annual Sportsman Channel Outdoor Fest—“a Texas-sized celebration of the outdoor lifestyle.” Demonstrations and seminars by experts and celebrities will occur throughout the festival, as well as live music, gear and demos, a trout pond and an archery zone. The World Fishing Network, Outdoor Channel, and others make this event possible.
UtopiaFest is a family-friendly camping festival in the wooded Hill Country of South-Central Texas. Apart from camping, there is always live music, awesome food, a beer garden, and an on-site general store. The experience also includes workshops, guided hikes, activities for adults, children and families, as even a “rejuvenation station.”
The city of Corpus Christi has been called “the birdiest city in America” due to the more than 300 species of birds that appear in the region on an annual basis. So, of course, this gives rise to the Birdiest Festival in America, where birders delight in learning more about the region and its species, chatting with experts and other birds, and most importantly, getting out and seeing the birds. Sponsors include Whataburger, Tropical Birding and NavyArmy Community Credit Union .
The Texas Trail Running Festival takes place on a private ranch near Spicewood. In addition to trail running—day and night—you’ll find awesome swimming holes, tons of single track, kayak rentals, food and beverage trucks, games and a Family and Kids Zone. Several trail racing events take place throughout the festival. Bearded Brothers, Austin Trail Running Company, and more help shape this event into the amazing experience it is.
The Texas Fly Fishing and Brew Festival is an indoor/outdoor festival that takes place every year in Plano. Inside the event center, you’ll find lectures and booths from gear manufacturers, retailers and guides—like Tailwaters Fly Fishing Co. Outside, you can sample some of the region’s finest beers, take a casting class, learn to tie flies or even learn how to flyfish from a kayak.