AT&T Cotton Bowl Classic (& Parade), Dallas. The annual college football bowl game, somewhat less prestigious than it once was, but still important in pigskin circles. Call tel. 214/634-7525. January 1.
River Walk Mud Festival, San Antonio. Each year, the horseshoe bend of the San Antonio River Walk is drained for maintenance, and San Antonians cheer up by electing a king and queen to reign over such events as Mud Stunts Day and the Mud Pie Ball. Call tel. 210/227-4262. Mid-January.
Super Bull, Amarillo. Don't come expecting football -- this is a bull-riding event at the Amarillo Civic Center. Call tel. 800/692-1338 or 806/376-7767. Mid-January.
Southwestern Exposition and Livestock Show and Rodeo, Fort Worth. Fort Worth's famous rodeo and livestock show is the nation's oldest, drawing nearly a million people to Will Rogers Memorial Center for 30 rodeo performances. It's kicked off by the All-Western Parade, the biggest horse-drawn parade in the world. Call tel. 817/877-2400. Mid-January to early February.
Stock Show and Rodeo, San Antonio. San Antonio hosts more than 2 weeks of rodeo events, livestock judging, country-and-western bands, and carnivals at the AT&T Center. Call tel. 210/225-5851. Early February.
Mardi Gras, Galveston. The city's biggest party of the year, with parades, masked balls, and a live-entertainment district around the Strand. Call tel. 888/425-4753. Late February to early March.
Houston Livestock Show and Rodeo, Houston. Billed as the largest event of its kind, the rodeo includes all the usual events like bull riding and calf roping, plus performances by famous country-and-western artists. A parade downtown kicks off the celebration. Call tel. 713/791-9000. March 1 to March 20.
South by Southwest, Austin. The Austin Music Awards kick off this huge conference, with hundreds of concerts at more than two dozen city venues. Keynote speakers have included Johnny Cash. Call tel. 512/467-7979. Mid-March (during spring break at the University of Texas).
Dyeing o' the River Green and Pub Crawl, San Antonio. Are leprechauns responsible for turning the San Antonio River into the green River Shannon? Irish dance and music fill the Arneson River Theatre from the afternoon on. Call tel. 210/227-4262. March 17.
Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival, Austin. Book a month in advance for the cooking demonstrations; beer, wine, and food tastings; and celebrity chef dinners. For the food fair, just turn up hungry. Call tel. 512/329-0770. First weekend after Easter.
San Jacinto Festival and Texas History Day, West Columbia. Highlights include a parade, talent show, arts and crafts show, and barbecue cook-off. The talent show, where you never know what's going to happen next, is the fun part. Call tel. 800/938-4853 or 979/265-2508. Mid-April.
International Festival, Houston. This festival highlights the culture, food, music, and heritage of a different country every year. Call tel. 713/926-6368. Last 2 weekends in April.
Fiesta San Antonio, San Antonio. What started as a modest marking of Texas's independence more than 100 years ago is now a huge event, with an elaborately costumed royal court presiding over 10 days of revelry: parades, balls, food fests, sporting events, concerts, and art shows all over town. Call tel. 877/SA-FIESTA (723-4378) or 210/227-5191. Mid- to late April.
Art Car Parade and Ball, Houston. The parade of decorated cars is marvelous and hilarious and attracts participants from around the country. The ball -- held in a large downtown parking garage -- is always a spirited event. Call tel. 713/926-6368. Second weekend in May.
Tejano Conjunto Festival, San Antonio. This festival celebrates the lively and unique blend of Mexican and German music born in South Texas. The best conjunto musicians perform at the largest event of its kind in the world. Call tel. 210/271-3151. Mid-May.
Return of the Chili Queens, San Antonio. An annual tribute to chili, with music, dancing, crafts demonstrations, and, of course, chili aplenty. Bring the Tums. Call tel. 210/207-8600. Memorial Day weekend.
American Institute of Architects Sandcastle Competition, Galveston. More than 80 architectural and engineering firms from around the state build sand castles and sand sculptures, taking this pastime to new heights. Call tel. 713/520-0155. Early June.
Juneteenth Festival, statewide. News of the Emancipation Proclamation didn't reach Texas until June 19, 1865 -- nearly 3 years after Lincoln signed it. This day is celebrated with blues, jazz, and gospel music, family reunions, and a variety of events. Houston has a major celebration; call tel. 713/284-8352 for more information. Weekend nearest June 19.
Gran Fiesta de Fort Worth, Fort Worth. An outdoor festival celebrating Texas's Hispanic culture with Latin music, art, food, and parades. Call tel. 214/855-1881. Third week in July.
Great Texas Mosquito Festival, Clute. A joyous celebration to divert everyone from the annoying pest. Call tel. 800/938-4853 or 979/265-2508. Late July.
Miss Texas USA Pageant, Lubbock. This annual beauty contest takes place at Lubbock Municipal Coliseum and area hotels. Call tel. 800/692-4035 or 806/747-5232. Last week in July.
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Austin. The largest hot-sauce contest in the world features more than 300 salsa entries, judged by celebrity chefs and food editors. The music at this super party is hot, too. Call tel. 512/454-5766. Last Sunday in August.
Marfa Lights Festival, Marfa. Celebration of the lights that inexplicably appear on the horizon just east of town. Expect street dances, live music, parades, and lots of food. Call tel. 800/650-9696 or 915/729-4942. Labor Day weekend.
Grapefest, Fort Worth. Yes, Texas makes wine -- some of it quite good. It flows freely at this, one of the country's biggest wine festivals. There's also live music and other entertainment. Call tel. 817/410-3185. Early September.
Fiestas Patrias, Houston. One of the largest community-sponsored parades in the Southwest celebrating Mexico's independence from Spain. Houston's several ballet folklórico troupes twirl their way through downtown streets in a pageant of color and traditional Mexican music. Call tel. 713/926-2636. Mid-September (around the 16th).
Pioneer Days, Fort Worth. A festival commemorating Fort Worth's early pioneer and cattle rancher heritage with country music, rodeos, and Wild West shows. Call tel. 817/336-8791 or 625-7005. Mid-September.
Bayfest!, Corpus Christi. This huge festival fills Shoreline Drive from I-37 down to Bayfront Park with music, games, food, arts and crafts, and fireworks over the bay. Call tel. 800/678-6232 or 361/881-1888. Late September.
State Fair of Texas, Dallas. The nation's biggest state fair, held at the fairgrounds built in 1936 in grand Art Deco style. Call tel. 214/565-9931. Late September to third week of October.
Commemorative Air Force Annual AIRSHO, Midland. Come see vintage aircraft on display and strutting their stuff in flight. Call tel. 800/624-6435 or 915/683-3381. First weekend in October.
Wings over Houston Airshow, Houston. This thrilling event usually features displays of current military aircraft and performances of aerial acrobatics. Call tel. 281/531-9461. Mid-October.
Texas Jazz Festival, Corpus Christi. This free and popular festival attracts hundreds of big-name musicians from across the United States. Call tel. 800/678-6232 or 361/881-1888. Mid- to late October.
Halloween, Austin. One hundred thousand costumed revelers take over 7 blocks of historic 6th Street. Call tel. 800/926-2282. October 31.
South Padre Island Kite Festival, South Padre Island. What could be more fun than flying a kite above blue waters? Or prettier to watch? For all those still young at heart. Call tel. 800/678-6232 or 361/881-1888. Early November.
Lighting Ceremony and River Walk Holiday Parade, San Antonio. Trees and bridges along the river are illuminated by some 80,000 lights, and Santa Claus arrives on a boat during this floating river parade. Call tel. 210/227-4262. Friday after Thanksgiving.
Christmas in the Stockyards, Fort Worth. Cowtown's classic Old West corner is lit up even more than usual for holiday shopping and caroling with a Texas accent. Call tel. 817/626-7921. Throughout December.
Fiestas Navideñas, San Antonio. The Mexican market hosts piñata parties, a blessing of the animals, and surprise visits from Pancho Claus. Call tel. 210/207-8600. Weekends in December.
Zilker Park Tree Lighting, Austin. The lighting of a magnificent 165-foot tree is followed by the Trail of Lights, a mile-long display of life-size holiday scenes. Call tel. 512/499-6700. Sundays through December 24.
Harbor Lights Celebration, Corpus Christi. The harbor is decked out for the holidays. There's an illuminated boat parade, fireworks, entertainment, and a visit from Santa Claus. Call tel. 800/678-6232 or 361/881-1888. First weekend in December.
Dickens on the Strand, Galveston. This street party in this city's historic district features revelers dressed up in Victorian costume, parades, street vendors, and lots of entertainment. Call tel. 409/765-7834. First weekend in December.
Las Posadas, San Antonio. Children carrying candles lead a procession along the river, reenacting the search for lodging in a moving multifaith rendition of the Christmas story. Call tel. 210/224-6163. Second Sunday in December.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.