Fall Festival Guide
6 hottest fall music festivals in Houston and beyond
UPDATE: Sound on Sound Fest, scheduled for November 10-12 in McDade, Texas, has been canceled. The story has been updated.
Feel that? It’s the waning days of summer. Admittedly, our fall weather isn’t as glorious as that of our friends in the northern U.S., but cooler temperatures sure do have us feeling a lot more like being outside. Especially when it involves music. In Houston and beyond, here are our picks for seven fabulous fall music fests.
Utopia, September 22-24
Now in its ninth year, Utopia Fest has managed to retain the magic of its first year. With a cap on attendees, BYOB policy, cool artisan market, late-night acoustic events at after-hours stage Tank Good Times, and a lineup that spans from Dr. John to Suzanna Choffel, it’s no wonder that this festival inspires cult-like devotion. Limited tickets are still available. Note: This is the final year it will be held at Four Sisters Ranch.
Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love
Marfa, September 28-October 1
Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love is an amalgamation of music, camping, art, and magical mystery under the big stars of Marfa. It all happens at desert lodge El Cosmico and reflects the bohemian nature of the place — think Burning Man meets the Wild West. Attend workshops, score free Topo Chico, and take advantage the opportunity to stay in a yurt while listening to the likes of Jenny Lewis, Roger Ellis, and Lee Ann Womack.
Gruene Music & Wine Festival
Gruene, October 5-8
Gruene is a small town with mass appeal. It’s just the kind of place to stroll around while listening to music, glass in hand, at The Gruene Music & Wine Festival. The lineup includes Americana and Texas country by Ray Benson, Cory Morrow, Walt Wilkins, Jack Ingram, and a host of other similar artists. You can buy into the whole weekend or pick a day. Wine lovers will want to hit up the Tastings and Tunes event on Saturday, while ice-cold brew aficionados will prefer the Craft Beer Tasting on Sunday. Proceeds benefit the United Way and Hurricane Harvey victims.
Austin City Limits
Austin, October 6-8 and October 13-15
ACL boasts two jam-packed weekends with multiple stages, artists, and vendors, plus fare from Austin food trailers and tons of booze. You can also expect a lot of out-of-town visitors. Because who wouldn’t want to descend upon our Zilker Park to laze about in the sun and listen to some sweet jams? Approximately 450,000 folks attend the festival each year, and the headliners just keep getting bigger. This year, Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and The Killers close out both weekends.
Houston Open Air
Houston, October 14-15
Sister fest to Chicago Open Air, the recently debuted Houston Open Air is every metalhead's dream. Held at at the Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, the fest showcases high-profilers like Avenged Sevenfold, Mastodon, Five Finger Death Punch, Prophets of Rage, Marilyn Manson, and lots more headbanging heavy rockers.
Mala Luna Music Festival
San Antonio, October 28-29
Mala Luna Music Festival in San Antonio presents a Halloween weekend of rap and EDM tunes at Nelson Wolff Stadium. Only in its second year, Mala Luna attracts big acts like Future, Lil Wayne, and Wiz Khalifa. There's also multiple food vendors and art installations. As you might expect, attendees get creative with costumes, especially those inspired by Dia de Los Muertos. A portion of the proceeds benefits the Network for Young Artists (NYA.)
Sound on Sound Fest
McDade, November 10-12
Enjoy three full days of music and camping at The Lost Pines Forest, a medieval-style village located 35 miles from Austin, via popular new fest Sound on Sound. All genres take the stage, from indie to punk to hip-hop to metal and to dance, along with comedians, podcasts, and panel discussions. Notable names this year are Grizzly Bear, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Iggy Pop, and The Shins. In order to get the full experience, pop up a tent, rent a glamping spot, or bring your RV. Campgrounds have hot showers, water refill stations, and late-night performances.