Photo courtesy of The Judds

It's a packed weekend in Fort Worth, with six concerts that will draw a variety of music lovers as the headline. Also on tap will be a new local theater production, an art festival, the start of a new opera season, a celebration of musical theater, and more.

Below are the best ways to spend your precious free time this weekend. Want more options? Lucky for you, we have a much longer list of the city's best events.

Thursday, October 20

Stage West presents Guards at the Taj
India, 1648. Two hapless Imperial Guards watch from their post as the sun rises for the first time over the newly-completed Taj Mahal. But the morning light brings with it an unthinkable task that will shake the foundations of everything they thought to be true. In this disarmingly funny and deeply moving story, two friends behold the most sublime of wonders and discover the perils of bearing witness to perfection. The regional premiere runs through November 20 at Stage West.

Phillip Phillips in concert
The reality singing competition American Idol has produced its fair share of stars, sometimes from the winner's circle, sometimes not. Phillip Phillips won the 11th season of the show in 2012 on the strength of his song "Home," which went on to become the best-selling song in Idol history. Phillips has released three albums in his career, most recently 2018's Collateral. He'll play at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall with support from American Authors.

Friday, October 21

Art Worth Festival
Art Worth is a juried festival of fine craft and fine art that spotlights skillfully executed works of art in glass, metal, wood, clay, and fiber, plus paintings, photography, jewelry, and more. Visitors can meet the artists who make the pieces and learn about various art disciplines through live demonstrations. There will also be performances of classical music by area youth ensembles and fare from local eateries. The festival takes place through Sunday at Will Rogers Memorial Center.

Magnolia at the Modern: God's Creatures
In a windswept fishing village, a mother (Emily Watson) is torn between protecting her beloved son (Paul Mescal) and her own sense of right and wrong. A lie she tells for him rips apart their family and close-knit community in this tense, sweepingly emotional epic. There will be seven screenings through Sunday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Fort Worth Opera presents Noches de Ópera
Fort Worth Opera will open their 2022-23 season with two new productions as part of its Noches de Ópera initiative. On Friday, Noche de Zarzuela will take the audience across the Atlantic for an evening of excerpts from Spain’s most beloved zarzuelas from composers Jacinto Guerrero, Frederico Moreno and Soutullo-Vert. On Saturday and Sunday, Noches de Latinidad: El Fuego de Una Mujer is a Latin-American musical extravaganza that features a mix of art songs, arias, and folkloric music from Mexico, Cuba, Colombia, Puerto Rico, Brazil, and Argentina. Both productions take place at Rose Marine Theater.

Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra presents "Rodgers and Hammerstein Celebration"
The Fort Worth Symphony Orchestra will harken back to the golden age of musical theater when Rodgers and Hammerstein, one of the greatest writing duos in history, had their heyday. The musical partners had a run of award-winning Broadway shows, including Oklahoma!, Carousel, South Pacific, The Sound of Music, and more. The concert, conducted by Carl Topilow and featuring vocalists Scarlett Strallen, Hugh Panaro, and William Michaels, will have three performances through Sunday at Bass Performance Hall.

Junior Brown in concert
Country singer Junior Brown is a true original, best known for his signature instrument, the "guit-steel" double neck guitar that is a hybrid of an electric guitar and lap steel guitar. Active since the early '80s, Brown has released 11 albums in his career, including 2018's Deep in the Heart of Me. He'll play at Billy Bob's Texas.

Saturday, October 22

AllianceTexas Aviation Expo
The world-renowned U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds will soar through the sky at the AllianceTexas Aviation Expo presented by Bell (formerly Bell Fort Worth Alliance Air Show). The event at Fort Worth Alliance Airport will include static aircraft displays, exhibitors, food concessions, and a gift shop. In addition to the Thunderbirds, aerial acts will include the F-22 Raptor Demonstration Team, Bell 505 Fly-By, and the National Anthem Flag Presentation by the RE/MAX Skydiving Team.

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium presents BeerFeast
BeerFeast is a beer tasting extravaganza that is celebrating 16 years at Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in downtown Fort Worth. Guests can enjoy beer samplings from 50 Beerknurd-approved local, national and international breweries, along with live music and food.Tickets include a BeerFeast 2022 t-shirt, tasting glass and 12- 2 ounce tastings.

Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presents "La Dolce Vita"
The Chamber Music Society of Fort Worth presents "La Dolce Vita," featuring an all-Brahms program including Cello Sonata No. 1 in E minor, Op. 38; Quintet for Piano and Strings in F minor, Op. 34, and more. Guest pianist Alessandro Deljavan of Italy won Fort Worth hearts as a two-time Cliburn competitor; he is joined by violinist Gary Levinson, violist Michael Klotz, and cellist Bion Tsang. The concert takes place at 2 pm at the Modern Art Museum.

The Judds: The Final Tour
What was meant to be the last hurrah for mother-daughter duo Naomi and Wynonna Judd has turned into a bittersweet tour after the death of Naomi in April. Wynonna Judd will go on without her, joined at this concert at Dickies Arena by fellow country music icons Trisha Yearwood and Martina McBride. McBride will play a full set of her own classic hits before Wynonna takes the stage to sing some of her own hits and songs by The Judds.

Ludacris in concert
Almost from the start of his career, rapper Ludacris has been on two paths - one as a music star and another as an actor. On the music side, all eight of his albums have landed in the top five of the Billboard 200, including four at No. 1. On the acting side, he's become a reliable performer, most notably as a member of the Fast & Furious family. He'll perform at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall.

Casey Donahew in concert
Country singer Casey Donahew had a nice run of success on the national country music scene, charting four straight albums in the top 10 on the Billboard Country charts in the 2010s, including the No. 3 All Night Party. He comes back to town in support of his new album, Built Different. He'll play at Billy Bob's Texas.

Sunday, October 23

Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth presents "Modern Masters: A Tribute to Anne Windfohr Marion"
Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth will present "Modern Masters: A Tribute to Anne Windfohr Marion," an exhibition of contributions of one of the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth’s greatest patrons, tracing her support over nearly a half century. Marion’s generosity to many institutions is legendary, but no organization stood above her love for the Modern. The exhibit, which will feature 80 works by 47 artists, will be on display through January 8, 2023.

Foreigner in concert
With 10 multi-platinum albums and 16 Top 30 hits, Foreigner is universally hailed as one of the most popular rock acts in the world. They are responsible for some of rock and roll’s most enduring anthems, including “Juke Box Hero,” “Cold As Ice,” “Hot Blooded,” “Waiting For A Girl Like You,” “Feels Like The First Time,” and more. They'll play at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall.

Photo by Andrews Cope

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium presents BeerFeast

Flying Saucer Draught Emporium presents BeerFeast

BeerFeast, the popular beer tasting extravaganza, celebrates 16 years on the Flying Saucer patio. Guests can enjoy beer samplings from 50 Beerknurd-approved local, national and international breweries, along with live music on the 8.0 stage and great food.

Tastings include limited releases and hard-to-find brews from the most popular breweries including Odell, Saint Arnold, Sierra Nevada, Real Ale, Avery, Martin House, Lakewood, and Celestial.

Tickets include a BeerFeast 2022 t-shirt, tasting glass and 12- 2 ounce tastings. VIP tickets allow for 1 pm entry and exclusive access to patio lounge, exclusive beer tastings, snacks and bottled water.

Photo courtesy of Toro Toro

These are the 7 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

A Fort Worth barbecue institution will celebrate its 95th birthday this week with too-good-to-be-true menu specials. There’s also a brunch aimed at celebrating lost loved ones with a special ceremony, and a Halloween-themed afternoon tea at a brand new downtown destination. This week also brings the return of a popular beer festival.

Tuesday, October 18

Caymus TasteMaker Dinner at Ruth’s Chris
The fine-dining steakhouse chain is hosting a series of wine dinners, and the next one features popular Caymus Vineyards. The four-course event – to be held Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings this week – features a main course of filet with rosemary charred wild mushrooms, zucchini pancakes with herb crème fraiche, and twice-baked potatoes with bacon lardons and truffle cheese sauce paired with Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon. Dinner is $130 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 6 pm.

Wednesday, October 19

Lot 40 Dark Oak Whisky Launch at Nickel City
The Southside bar is hosting a month-long Halloween pop-up experience called Black Lagoon, but on Wednesday the folks from Lot 40 Canadian Whisky will be on-site to launch their new Dark Oak Rye. Go for complimentary whisky samples and stay for Halloween-themed cocktails.

Thursday, October 20

Riscky’s BBQ Celebrates 95th Anniversary
Serving Texas barbecue in Fort Worth since 1927, Riscky’s will celebrate its 95th birthday with all-day specials and a party in the Stockyards. From 5-7 pm at the barbecue joint’s Stockyards location at 140 E. Exchange Avenue, guests can enjoy complimentary barbecue samples, craft beer courtesy of Ben E. Keith, giveaways for the first 95 attendees, and a radio broadcast by 95.9 The Ranch. In addition, Riscky’s will offer 95-cent food and drink specials all day long at all locations, including chopped beef sandwiches, pulled pork sandwiches, beef and pork ribs (per rib), brisket tacos, fried pickles, fries, tea, soda, and single pints of domestic beer (except the Benbrook and North Richland Hills locations for the beer).

Saturday, October 22

Homage to Heritage Brunch at Toro Toro
The downtown Latin steakhouse will host a four-course Mayan brunch experience that will begin with a special ceremony to honor loved ones who have passed, and guests are invited to bring their photographs. Called a Copal Ceremony, the ritual begins with the burning of tree resin of pre-Columbian Meso-American tribes. Menu highlights include red snapper ceviche, short rib birria tacos, and brisket Benedict with mole enchilada. The brunch is $90 per person and includes breakfast cocktails. The event will run from 10 am-2 pm.

16th Annual Flying Saucer Beerfeast
Beerknurds, rejoice. The downtown draught emporium’s outdoor beer festival is back. Guests can enjoy beer samples and limited releases from 50 different local, national, and international breweries along with live music on the 8.0 stage. The $45 per-person price includes a T-shirt, tasting glass, and 12 tastes. Or pay $60 for early entry at 1 pm and access to the patio lounge and exclusive beers. The event will run from 2-6 pm.

Sunday, October 23

Spooky Afternoon Tea at Indulge
The new cooking studio and tea room, located inside downtown’s new 3rd St. Market, will host a three-course afternoon tea paired with sweet and savory treats. It will include canapes, tea sandwiches, and tartlets along with cookies, mousse, and meringue. Tickets are $65 per person and the tea will run from 2-4 pm.

Monday, October 24

Creole Soul Beer Dinner at Funky Picnic Brewery & Café
The Southside brewery and restaurant is teaming up with nearby neighbor Dusty Biscuit Beignets to present a five-course Cajun-inspired beer-pairing dinner. Menu highlights include shrimp po' boy beignets with turtle soup shooters, rabbit andouille gumbo, and spicy crawfish etouffee. The $90 per-person ticket includes beer pairings, tax, and gratuity. Dinner starts at 7 pm.


Dirk Nowitzki-themed biergarten to open at Dallas-Fort Worth Airport

Dirk News

A one-of-a-kind eating-and-drinking option with celebrity cachet is landing at Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport: Called Nowitzki Restaurant, it's a culinary collaboration between Dirk Nowitzki, former player and special advisor for the Dallas Mavericks, and D&B Mitchell Group, a Dallas hospitality company known for its portfolio of dining concepts located in non-traditional settings.

The restaurant will be at Terminal C, where it will feature a full bar with beer, wine, and snacks.

According to a spokesperson from DFW Airport, it'll open in summer 2023.

"This has been in the works for a few years," says a D&B Mitchell Group spokesperson. "Our company founders Derek Missimo and Don Mitchell met Dirk and shared their idea of creating a restaurant around him and his brand. He liked the idea."

They reached out to local airports including DFW, who loved the concept of a kiosk inspired by one of Dallas' most beloved sports figures and local celebrities.

"He is an ambassador for Dallas," the D&B spokesperson says.

Nowitzki is also no stranger to the craft beer world, even inspiring a beer called "The Big German," a kolsch made by Rollertown Beerworks, the Celina brewery from Ben Rogers and Jeff "Skin" Wade, famous for "The Ben and Skin Show" radio show they've hosted for nearly two decades.

D&B says they'll have The Big German on tap, along with four to five other beers on tap and some in bottles, plus mixed drinks, wine, and a few snacks that pair well including charcuterie boards and soft pretzels.

Founded in 2004, the D&B Mitchell Group owns and operates restaurant brands at airports throughout the U.S. including DFW Airport and Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport, such as Banh Shop and International House of Pancakes.

The restaurant will boast Nowitzki-inspired decor, including Dirk-themed photos and memorabilia, plus TVs with the capability to play highlight videos of Nowitzki from his career.

There may also be merchandise available such as T-shirts, beer steins, and other mementos.

Mobile ordering will be available so that items can be shipped directly to a passenger's home if they don’t want to carry it with them on their flights.

Photo courtesy of Nickel City

Where to drink in Fort Worth right now: 5 spooktacular bars for Halloween sips

Where to drink

Halloween month is the ideal time for bars to jump on board a current Instagrammy pop-up trend in spooky fashion. While the haunted holiday is taking over a few Fort Worth establishments, others are launching Halloween-themed drinks – some sweet like trick-or-treat candy and others as scary as their horror flick inspirations. Here are five Fort Worth bars for grown-ups to celebrate ghoulish shenanigans all month long. Some are so close together, they'd make for a creepy crawl. The last one is a beer haunt with new Halloween brews.

Nickel City
The award for “spookiest bar in DFW” goes to Nickel City, the Austin-based neighborhood bar on South Main Street. Now through the end of the month, it's home to a super scary pop-up bar concept called Black Lagoon, currently appearing in just nine cities across the U.S. and Canada (but not in Dallas). Life-sized coffins, skeletons, and goth-themed décor combine to create a spooktacular atmosphere with Halloween-themed craft cocktails to match. Try the Screaming Banshee, made with gin, pineapple syrup, and Greek yogurt; or the Hellraiser, made with Hornitos tequila and spiced rum. Drinks are served in eerie glassware, like skulls and bony hands, which are also for sale. Monster mash to the beat of sinister Black Lagoon playlists while there. The pop-up will run through October 31.

Nickel City Black Lagoon Halloween pop-up Nickel City is one of just nine bars in the U.S. to host the Black Lagoon pop-up.Photo courtesy of Nickel City

This longtime Magnolia Avenue cocktail lounge – which sets a high bar for expertly crafted drinks – typically goes all out for Christmas with festive décor and libations. But this year owner Lisa Little-Adams is letting her team go wild with a Halloween pop-up themed after the cult favorite movie, The Rocky Horror Picture Show. Cocktails with ties to the movie include the Hot Dog – a nod to the star character, Dr. Frank N. Furter – made with vodka, pineapple, lime, tonic water, and bitters; the Hot Mess, made with tequila blanco, lime, peach puree, crème de cassis, and Tajin; and the Dammit Janet, made with gold rum, apple syrup, lemon, curacao, and walnut liqueur. The pop-up officially kicks off on October 17 and will run through Halloween.

Hot Dog cocktail, Proper The Hot Dog cocktail at Proper.Photo courtesy of Proper

Tarantula Tiki Lounge
Call this South Main Street tiki bar “Tarantula Terror Lounge” this month as the tropical drinking establishment has launched a full menu of creepy cocktails, shots, and party bowls for sharing. Morbid concoctions include the Ghoul Summer, made with two kinds of rum, banana, pineapple, coconut, and spices; and Mai Time to Die, a play on the traditional Mai Tai. Knock back the pink-hued Rocky Horror Picture Shot, or share the Ghouls Gone Wild – made with three rums, mango, guava, and passion fruit – with a friend or two.

Tarantula Tiki Lounge Ghoul Summer at Tarantula Tiki Lounge.Photo courtesy of Tarantula Tiki Lounge

The Back Room at Funky Picnic
This brand new South Fort Worth speakeasy, opened recently in the former Black Cat Pizza space (401 Bryan Ave.) by the owners of neighboring Funky Picnic Brewery & Café, serves cocktails, small plates, and wood-fired pizzas. The Back Room is strictly 21-and-up – but bring the fur babies because there’s a cute little covered pet-friendly patio. Drinks here are pretty, like the Trick-or-Treat Martini, a special this month featuring peanut butter-infused vodka, chocolate liqueur, chocolate syrup, and a graham cracker rimmed glass garnished with a toasted marshmallow. Try one during limited opening hours, which are Friday through Sunday from 3-11 pm.

Halloween cocktail The Back Room's Trick-or-Treat Martini.Photo courtesy of Funky Picnic

Martin House Brewing Company
The Sylvania Avenue brewery along the Trinity Trails – which has gained national attention for its quirky beer flavors – just brewed up four new Halloween-themed brews. Collectively called Marty’s Little Monsters, the limited releases are available on tap at the brewery and in a four-pack of cans in select stores. The lineup includes Battle Bats, a vanilla milkshake IPA; Gummy Ghost, a strawberry cream sour; Mr. Mummy, a vanilla toffee crunch stout; and Wicked Wolf, a peanut butter marshmallow blonde. The taproom is open daily, but expect a busy scene on Thursdays and Saturdays when the brewery sells $15 wristbands good for a souvenir pint glass and four 8-ounce pours.

Martin House Martin House has brewed up several new Halloween-time beers.Facebook/Martin House

Photo courtesy of Refinery 714

These are the 9 best food and drink events in Fort Worth this week

This week in gluttony

It’s a busy week in Fort Worth with fetes all around, including taco parties, trick-or-treat beer flights, a champagne dinner, and a boho-chic cowboy-themed pop-up with plenty of whiskey cocktails. Don’t miss the perfect taste of a fall with dinner on a farm or make plans for an annual outdoor cigar and spirits tasting that’s growing every year. The weather looks to be perfect for it all.

Tuesday, October 4

The Ultimate Taco Challenge at El Chingon
The Bledsoe Street Mexican restaurant and bar will celebrate National Taco Day with a taco-eating contest. Teams of four can compete to devour 42 tacos. Contestants will have four minutes and 20 seconds to do it, and the fastest team will $500 cash plus a coveted bottle of Don Julio 1942 tequila to be served that night. Check-in for the contest starts at 7 pm and the challenge kicks off at 8 pm. Spectators can enjoy an array of other specials (starting at 3 pm), including a five-taco flight ($9.42), a tequila flight featuring Don Julio 1942, Azuñia, and Casa Noble ($35), a flight of three mini margaritas ($13), shots of Don Julio 1942 ($19.42), and half-off a selection of à la carte tacos.

Date Night Series: Bao Buns Cooking Class at The Table Market & Culinary Studio
Couples will learn how to make various bao buns – a popular Chinese street food – during this hands-on cooking class. On the menu is char sui pork bao and shiitake and water chestnuts bao. The $125 class fee is per couple, and folks may BYOB. Class starts at 6:30 pm.

Wednesday, October 5

Trick or Treat Flights at Martin House Brewing Company
The Riverside brewery popular for its creative lineup of flavors will launch four Halloween beers this week. Try them all in a flight of pours paired with candy. The brews include Battle Bats vanilla milkshake IPA, Gummy Ghost strawberry cream sour, Mr. Mummy vanilla toffee crunch stout, and Wicked Wolf peanut butter marshmallow blonde. Flights will be $15 and will come with a treat bag of Halloween candy. Visit from 4-9 pm.

Thursday, October 6

Veuve Clicquot Six-Course Pairing Dinner at B&B Butchers & Restaurant
The ultimate bubbly brand will be featured during this indulgent six-course dinner, set to take place in a private room at the posh Shops at Clearfork steakhouse. Highlights from the seafood-centric menu include oysters three ways, jumbo lump crab cocktail, and pan-seared sea scallops. Dinner is $260 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and begins at 6 pm.

Rhinestone Cowboy Kick-off Party at The Kimpton Harper
Break out the boots and bedazzlers for this boho-western meets disco-themed party that will celebrate the start of The Kimpton Harper’s new Pendleton Whisky pop-up. Located in Refinery 714, the downtown hotel’s 24th floor bar, the month-long pop-up experience will feature glitzy décor, feathers and floral, along with intricate cocktails made with Pendleton Whisky and its sister brand, Dobel Tequila. Try the Calamity Jane, a smoking libation made with rye whisky, dry vermouth, Aperol and yellow chartreuse, or the Lone Ranger, made with tequila topped with bubbles and served in a disco ball tumbler. The kick-off party will feature a costume contest and live DJ music starting at 7 pm. Refinery 714 will be from open from 5-11 pm.

Friday, October 7

Coffee and Tea Crawl
Hosted by the Arlington Public Library, this three-day coffee and tea crawl encourages participants to visit local Arlington coffee shops and bakeries. Hit all four and return your stamped postcard (available at each venue) to the George W. Hawkes Downtown Library for a free mug. Stops include Salter Bros. Coffee Roasters, Sugar Bee Sweets Bakery, White Rhino Coffee, and Inclusion Coffee. Any purchase at each location is good for a stamp, and the promotion runs through Sunday.

Saturday, October 8

Cowtown Taco Throwdown
The inaugural event set to take place at River Ranch Stockyards will feature local taco vendors who’ll showcase their taco best. Tickets ($20 for adults, $10 for kids 6-12) include two tacos with rice and beans, loaded salsa bar, and whiskey tasting (for adults). Or pay $49 for a VIP ticket that includes an open beer and margarita bar. The event will benefit Brotherhood for the Fallen, a non-profit that aids families of officers that have been killed in the line of duty. There’ll also be live music by the Steve Helms band. The party will run from 11 am-5 pm.

4th Annual Cigar & Spirits Tasting
To be held at Panther Island Pavilion, the fourth annual event hosted by Cigar & Spirits Magazine will feature a beer and wine garden, food trucks, live music, and more than 80 cigar and spirit brands to sample. Tickets are $100 per person and the party will run from 5-8:30 pm.

Nash Farm Harvest Moon Supper
Enjoy a 19th century-inspired farm menu during this evening dinner in the meadows of Grapevine’s Nash Farm. Guests will be serenaded by the Lone Star String Band. The $100 per-person ticket includes opening reception, wine paired with dinner, and a souvenir photo. The event begins at 6:30 pm.

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CultureMap Emails are Awesome

'Lightscape' shines bright in this week's 5 most popular Fort Worth stories

This week's hot headlines

Editor's note: A lot happened this week, so here's your chance to get caught up. Read on for the week's most popular headlines. Looking for the best things to do this weekend? Find that list here.

1. What to expect at 'Lightscape,' Fort Worth's new walk-thru winter wonderland. Fort Worth’s most Instagrammable new holiday lights display is best enjoyed without clinging to a phone. “Lightscape,” which made its North Texas debut at the Fort Worth Botanic Garden on Friday, November 18, walks visitors through a winter wonderland experience unlike any other in DFW.

2. Hoffbrau Steak fires up the grill for new location in Grapevine. A longtime steakhouse is coming to Grapevine: Hoffbrau Steak & Grill House, a small family-owned and -operated chain that's been in Dallas-Fort Worth for more than 40 years, will open a location November 28 at 700 W. State Hwy 114, previously home to a Brick House Tavern & Tap, which closed during the pandemic.

3. Yellowstone and 1883 stars cowboy up at Fort Worth gala honoring Taylor Sheridan. Fort Worth has always been "where the West begins," and now it's where TV's hottest Western drama begins, too. The 2022 Lone Star Film Festival Gala - held November 11 at Hotel Drover in the Stockyards - leaned hard into the city's connections to Yellowstone and its prequel, 1883, with signs and programs that boasted "The Road to Yellowstone Began in Fort Worth."

4. Divine doughnuts and tempting tamales top this Fort Worth restaurant news. This roundup of restaurant news around Fort Worth has tidbits about doughnuts, Cajun food, vegan tamales, and gourmet ice cream, culled from press releases, social media, and the occasional hot tip. Here's what's happening in Fort Worth restaurant news.

5. Here comes Santa House, back to Grapevine for a very charitable 2022 Christmas season. After taking a much-needed break last year, Louie Murillo and his family are once again decking their halls, yard, and rooftop to bring back the Grapevine Santa House — a smash hit during the 2020 holiday season. The half-acre property is a "Where's Waldo?" maze of more than 1,000 Santa statues, which visitors can walk among, snap photos with, and then, they hope, make a donation to Grace Grapevine's Christmas Cottage program.

Texas parks beckon throughout 2022 holidays with festive events and peaceful escapes

If roasting ‘smores and hiking in the great outdoors sounds fun, pack up your family and visit one of Texas’ state parks this holiday season.

Texas state parks and historic sites are ringing in the holidays with a number of festive events. There are drive-thru light tours, special holiday hikes, arts and crafts for the kiddos, and more.

Reservations fill up quickly, so be sure to visit an individual park's website before you head out. And check the Holidays in the Parks page for many more fun options, pricing information, and more information.

Dallas-Fort Worth-area parks

Tyler State Park
Avoid the Black Friday madness with the 15th annual “Walk-off the Bird” Bird Walk, a 2.1-mile walk by the lakeshore at 9 am November 25. Bring your binoculars to relax and enjoy the bird life of the East Texas Pineywoods. At 2 pm the same day, enjoy a Fall in the Savannah fall foliage hike. Enjoy Reading Ranger Campfire Stories around a cozy campfire at 3 pm December 3. Head back December 9-10 for A Pineywoods Christmas, when you can stroll or drive through the Lakeview and Big Pine campgrounds to take in campers' elaborately decorated sites and take a Winter Wonderland Hike.

Lake Tawakoni State Park
Drive through or stay at the park and decorate your campsite with your favorite Christmas decorations to receive your second night of camping free during your stay. There will be a decorating contest, complete with awards, as well as a reading of The Night before Christmas — all part of Twinkle Tour 2022, 5-8 pm December 3.

Daingerfield State Park
Drive through the park lit up like Santa Land during the 10th annual Christmas in the Park drive thru lights tour December 14-17 (times vary). Marvel at the decorated campsites and lights, and enjoy hot chocolate and cookies while waiting for a chance to visit with Santa.

Eisenhower State Park
Help those in need and spread holiday cheer — and as a bonus, get free entry to the park — by bringing one unwrapped donation item to the park’s Holiday Donation Drive from November 25 to December 19. Come back December 9-10 to visit the Light Up the Park drive-thru lights event, featuring milk and cookies with Santa. This year, the park is taking unwrapped toys to donate instead of collecting entrance fees for the event.

Cleburne State Park
Enjoy Pancakes With Santa and make pinecone bird feeders 9-11 a.m. December 10.

Cedar Hill State Park
Walk off your Thanksgiving Day meal and explore nature in the cool fall air during the three-mile Thanksgiving Nature Walk 7:30-9 a.m. November 26. Search for birds taking their winter break at the park during their Winter Birding Walk, which takes place 7:30-8:30 am December 13. Explore Christmas on Penn Farm on December 17: Learn about the history and pioneers of the Penn Family and the farm they built 150 years ago.

Lake Mineral Wells State Park
Experience Christmas, cowboy style, at Cross Timbers Cowboy Christmas, December 3. Park ranger and cowboy poet David Owens will gather guests around a campfire at the Lone Star Amphitheater for an evening of cowboy culture through songs, stories and poems.

Dinosaur Valley State Park
In partnership with Toys for Tots, the park is hosting Christmas in the Valley, a full day of ranger-led events, programs, family friendly activities, arts and crafts, food and more. Bring a new and unwrapped toy for free admission for the whole family. The event takes place 1-4 pm. December 17.

Austin/San Antonio-area parks

Bastrop State Park
The park’s annual Gobble Till You Wobble hike November 25 has been canceled due to predicted rains. However, you can still follow ornaments with clues through the park every day in December during the annual Fa La La Through The Forest Scavenger Hunt. Enjoy the Lost Pines Christmas Parade, a collaborative event with Bastrop and Buescher Parks, at 6 pm December 10. Tour the inside of the historic Refectory and see how the Civilian Conservation Corps celebrated Christmas away from home during A Lost Pines CCC Christmas 9 a.m. to noon December 17.

Lyndon B. Johnson State Park & Historic Site
Attend Deck the Halls, 10 am. to 3 pm November 26 to explore how early Texans at the Sauer-Beckmann Farm got ready for the holidays by stringing popcorn and decorating cookies to hang on their Christmas tree; learn how to make wreaths out of local cedar and dip candles as the farm staff get ready for das Weihnachten (Christmas). Return to the park at 5:30 pm December 18 for the 53rd Annual Tree Lighting, a holiday tradition started by President and Mrs. Johnson.

Garner State Park
Join the Buffalo Soldiers program and friends as they stop into Garner State Park before leaving for Christmas break during the Marching Towards Christmas event 10 am to 2 pm December 10. Christmas activities will include hand-dipped candles, frontier Christmas painting, Christmas-themed hard tack in Dutch ovens, and stories of the Buffalo Soldiers.

Buescher State Park
Take a Giving Thanks Guided Hike and learn how the Civilian Conservation Corps built the park from 3-4 pm November 26. On the Fa La La in the Forest Scavenger Hunt, you can follow ornaments with clues through the park to secure a prize at the end, December 1 to January 1. Enjoy the Smithville Festival of Lights and Lighted Parade, a collaborative effort between Buescher and Bastrop parks, on December 3.

Hill Country State Natural Area
See how art, history and state parks are connected; learn some basic watercolor techniques and paint a card or two to take home during the Watercolor Christmas Cards event 2:30-4 p.m. December 3. Come back for Horses in History & Ornament Craft from 2:30-4 pm. December 22 and learn how horses played important roles in the lives of vaqueros, native people, ranchers and more. Then, play a round of horseshoes and paint a horse ornament to take with you.

South Llano River State Park
At Christmas at the Ranch, 2 to 5 pm December 3, guests can warm up with hot chocolate and cider, listen to live entertainment, enjoy crafts and cookie decorating, and anticipate Santa's visit while taking in the twinkling lights and Christmas decorations at the historic Ranch House that now serves as Park Headquarters.

Houston and Gulf Coast-area parks

Brazos Bend State Park
Holiday in the Park is an all-day affair on December 10. Events include a self-guided "Elf Hike," Christmas crafts, "Pup Parade," s'mores, and more.

Goose Island State Park
See the park in lights, enjoy holiday activities, and camp for free when you decorate your campsite during Christmas in the Park on December 17. Guests are invited to "Santa's Village" at the CCC Recreation Hall for holiday crafts, games, hot chocolate around the campfire, and to drop off letters to Santa in the North Pole Mailbox.

Lake Livingston State Park
Learn about your favorite Thanksgiving food (the turkey) during Campfire Turkey Talk on November 26. Rangers will cover the history of Thanksgiving, the habits and behaviors of wild turkeys, and share interesting facts about turkeys, including how it nearly became our national bird.

Lake Corpus Christi State Park
Get in the holiday spirit with the second annual Holiday Light Drive Thru 6-9 pm December 10. Visitors can enter the park for a drive through the lighted areas of Javelina and Opossum Bend camping loops, plus the Old Pavilion.

West Texas and the Panhandle-area parks

Franklin Mountains State Park
Pack your Thanksgiving leftovers and hike 1.5 miles up to Aztec Caves during the park’s Turkey Trot at 11 am November 25. On December 3, make ornaments and holiday cards with recycled materials as part of the Art in the Parks series. During Cookies and Cocoa, you can decorate and take home your own Christmas treat while sipping on a cup of hot chocolate 2-4 pm December 23. Come back on Christmas Eve for a guided, two-mile Santa Hike at 11 am.

Hueco Tanks State Park & Historic Site
Bring your family out for Home for the Holidays guided family hike on December 10 and moderate hike on 17.

San Angelo State Park
Enjoy a drive-thru tour of lights and optional pictures with Santa and Smokey Bear during Holly-Days in the Park 6-8 pm December 10.

Affluent Fort Worth neighbor leads list of lavish holiday spending budgets in U.S.

Santa Baby

As the most wonderful time of the year approaches, holiday shopping budgets are in the spotlight, and a study from WalletHub lists Flower Mound as one of the top cities where Santa doesn't need a whole lot of help.

According to the personal finance website, the average holiday budget in Flower Mound is $3,531 per person, the third highest in the nation.

The town's 2021 population of 77,243 (per the U.S. Census) boasts a median income $139,703 and earlier this year was named by Ventured.com as the richest city in Texas.

In spite of an increase over last year's gift list totals, Flower Mound dropped to the third spot after being ranked No. 1 last year with a budget of $3,427. Newton, Massachusetts (budget $4,233) and Palo Alto, California (budget $3,920) edged out the Texas city this year.

Flower Mound was the only Texas city in the top 10, but there's plenty of holiday cheer to be found in the report, and not just for Flower Mound Santa fans.

Each year, WalletHub calculates the maximum holiday budget for over 550 U.S. cities "to help consumers avoid post-holiday regret," the website says. The study factors in income, age of the population, and other financial indicators such as debt-to-income ratio, monthly-income-to monthly-expenses ratio and savings-to-monthly-expenses ratio.

Despite nationwide focus on inflation strains, holiday spending is expected to be healthy, and higher than last year.

"The seeming social upheaval in recent times may lead households to spend more in an attempt to take some control of the environment which they can control," says Robert Wright, University of Illinois, Springfield professor emeritus who was among five experts consulted for advice about holiday shopping.

This could be good news if your Christmas wishes are on local shopping lists. Eight other North Texas cities landed in this year's top 100 heftiest holiday budgets:

  • Allen, No. 17 , $2,670
  • Frisco, No. 37, $2,150
  • McKinney, No. 45, $2,070
  • Plano, No. 50, $1,999
  • Carrollton, No. 55, $1,837
  • Richardson, No. 58, $1,823
  • North Richland Hills, No. 81, $1,658
  • Lewisville, No. 90, $1,630

Fort Worth landed at No. 366 with a budget of $890, while Dallas landed at No. 401 out of 558 cities with an average holiday budget of $845.

Elsewhere in Texas, spending in the Austin area won't be ho-hum with the Capitol City's budget of $1,705 ranked at No. 78. Two Austin suburbs, Cedar Park (budget $2,855) and League City (budget $2,541) ranked 14 and 20, respectively.

Santa's bag could be a mixed bag in the Houston area with three suburbs in the top 100, but the urban center falling behind:

  • Sugar Land, No. 15, $2,793
  • Pearland, No. 36, $2,172
  • The Woodlands, No. 71, $1,733
  • Houston, No. 366, $890

Things don't look too jolly for San Antonio, ranked at No. 431 with an average budget of $803 or Pharr, which was the lowest ranked city in Texas.

At No. 553 with a budget of $487, the Rio Grande Valley city came in just a few spots ahead of last place Hartford, Connecticut, with a budget of only $211.