Facebook/Texas Festivals

This week’s events bring the opportunity to partake in rare whiskey and wine – some not available for sale to the public. Hosting parties this upcoming holiday season? There’s a cocktail class just for you. By week’s end, sip and stretch with yoga at a distillery, indulge in tacos and margarita at a festival, or gather the girls for a Taylor Swift tribute band paired with eras-themed cocktails.

Monday, October 9

Mr. Black Espresso Martini Fest 2023
More than a dozen DFW bars and restaurants are participating in this week-long festival, which will highlight the classic espresso martini. Sponsored by Mr. Black coffee liqueur, the event will showcase different variations of the cocktail along with innovative cold brew creations. Participating venues include Leela’s Wine Bar, Fitzgerald’s in Fort Worth, Thirsty Lion, and more. Look for specials to run through Sunday.

Wednesday, October 11

Casa Madero 425th Anniversary Wine Dinner at Don Artemio
Touted as the oldest vineyard in the Americas, Casa Madero is located in Valle de Parras, Mexico. Get a taste of its ancient vines during this six-course pairing dinner, featuring Casa Madero co-owner Daniel Milmo. Menu highlights include salmon ceviche on a dried pineapple tostada, crab-stuffed chilis, and steak with chicharron-stuffed cannelloni. The dinner is $195 per person, plus tax and gratuity, and includes wines with each course – some not available in the U.S. Dinner begins at 6 pm.

Thursday, October 12

Rare & Small Batch Whiskey Tasting at Hotel Vin
Visit the downtown historic Grapevine luxury hotel and search for the hidden speakeasy behind a discreet phone booth. That’s where this blind whiskey tasting will take place, where guests will get to sip five rare bourbons – some not available to the public. The $84 per person price, plus tax and a small fee, includes a welcome cocktail upon arrival. The tasting will run from 6 – 7:30 pm.

Kitchen Cocktails – Fall Edition at Indulge FW
Up your home mixology game with this cocktail class that will focus on fall flavors. Participants will learn to create three craft cocktails using local, seasonal ingredients, including Melon Fizz with champagne and Texas cantaloupes; a twist on the Moscow Mule called Horse Apples; and the Margarito made with North Texas fall tomatoes. The $89 per person price includes simple syrup to take home. Class begins at 7 pm.

Saturday, October 14

Yoga at Whiskey Ranch
The second Saturday of the month means it’s time to stretch and sip at Whiskey Ranch. Visit the expansive Fort Worth distillery, home of TX Whiskey, for a morning yoga class with skyline views. The class is $15 per person and includes a post-workout cocktail. Class begins at 11 am.

Fort Worth Taco & Margarita Festival
Panther Island Pavilion will draw hundreds of tequila lovers for an all-day festival fueled by tacos. There’ll be more than 20 local food and drink vendors, each sharing their best sips and bites. Tickets start at $37 for entry and five sampling tickets (three drink and two food), with additional sampling tickets available for purchase. The festival will run from 12–6 pm.

Swifties Take the Stockyards at Hotel Drover
Taylor Swift fans are invited to take over The Backyard at Hotel Drover for live music by Lover, a Taylor Swift tribute band. Eras-themed cocktails will be served from the Pour Horse bar, including Seemingly Ranch Water, Mr. Travis Swift, and Super Swiftie. The event is open to the public and will run from 7–10 pm.

Texas Hill Country Wineries/ Facebook

Dozens of Texas Hill Country vineyards open doors for special wine crawl


For Texans dreaming of snuggling up with a glass of Cabernet, nonprofit trade association Texas Hill Country Wineries is bringing back its Texas Wine Month passport.

The digital ticket, redeemable throughout October, allows guests to stop by more than 45 wineries for self-guided experiences. Oenophiles will receive special discounts on bottles and are allowed to visit up to four wineries daily. With participating estates scattered throughout popular weekend destinations like Fredericksburg, Johnson City, and New Braunfels, it’s a chance to explore the Hill Country and soak in those autumn vibes.

Industry leaders like Becker Vineyards, Messina Hof, and Pedernales Cellars are part of the informal crawl, as are many lesser-known discoveries. Passholders can jaunt to Boerne to sip a low-intervention Petite Syrah at Boerne’s Saint Tryphon Farm & Vineyards or walk amongst the vines at Spicewood’s Stone House.

It’s all broken up by territory, with an accompanying downloadable map to make plotting a trip easier. Make sure it's saved before hitting the twisty roads — cell service may not be reliable out there.

Passes are $85 for individuals and $120 per couple, so consider an accelerated cuffing season. Proceeds benefit the Texas Hill Country Wine Industry Scholarship Fund, which has awarded more than $55,500 to 47 Texas students pursuing viticulture, enology, or hospitality degrees.

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'Yellowstone' stars to greet fans at Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo

Yellowstone news

Yellowstone fans, get your comfy shoes ready - there'll be a long line for this one. Cole Hauser a.k.a. "Rip Wheeler" on Yellowstone, and Taylor Sheridan, the show's co-creator, executive producer, and director of the series, will meet fans and sign autographs at the Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo.

The event will take place from 4:30-6:30 pm only on Friday, February 3. Location is the 6666 Ranch booth near the south end of Aisle 700 in the Amon G. Carter, Jr. Exhibits Hall.

According to a February 2 announcement from FWSSR, "fans will have the opportunity to snag an autograph as well as purchase some distinctive Yellowstone and 6666 Ranch merchandise while also enjoying all the features the Stock Show offers."

The event is free to attend (with paid Stock Show admission) and open to the public.

It's the second year in a row for Hauser to appear at FWSSR; in 2022, he and fellow cast mates drew huge crowds.

Sheridan, a Paschal High School graduate, is no stranger to Fort Worth; he lives in a ranch near Weatherford and filmed 1883, the prequel to Yellowstone, in and around Fort Worth. Currently, another spinoff, 1883: The Bass Reeves Story, is filming in North Texas.

The Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo is winding up its 2023 run on Saturday, February 4.

These are the 12 must-see shows in Dallas-Fort Worth theater for December

Theater Critic Picks

It's here: holiday show time. Many of them opened at the end of November, so we're including them here for your planning ease.

Whether you're looking for something family-friendly, a play the in-laws will love, or a performance that has nothing to do with the holidays at all, read on.

In order of start date, here are 12 local shows to watch this month:

Jada Bells - A Holiday Extravaganza
Uptown Players, through December 10
Dallas drag performer Jada Pinkett Fox, aka Lee Walter, will show off her charisma, stage presence, and voice as she brings her unique blend of glamour, humor, and talent to the stage. Jada will be joined by musical guests, each bringing their own flair and style. The holiday-themed extravaganza, written and directed by BJ Cleveland, features classic holiday favorites and contemporary hits.

Black Nativity
Bishop Arts Theatre Center, through December 17
For 19 years, Bishop Arts Theatre Center's annual holiday production of Black Nativity, inspired by Langston Hughes's iconic 1960 Broadway show, is back with a mesmerizing display of hand-clapping, toe-tapping, and finger-snapping theatrical wonderment like never before.

Poor Clare
Stage West, through December 17
Meet Clare: a stylish teen living in medieval Italy, trying out the newest hairstyles, and keeping up with the latest fashions and juicy town gossip. But everything changes when she meets a man named Francis who has started ranting in the streets. Her mother, sister, and maids don’t understand it, but this man’s ideas are, like, totally starting to make sense – and now she can’t unsee the world he has shown her.

Scrooge in Rouge
Theatre Three, through December 17
After a widespread case of food poisoning wipes out the majority of The Royal Music Hall Twenty-Member Variety Players, three surviving members of the company soldier on through a performance of A Christmas Carol that abounds in bad puns, naughty double-entendres, and witty songs.

A Charlie Brown Christmas
Dallas Children's Theater, through December 23
Rediscover the true reason for the season while sharing laughs with the Peanuts Gang along the way. Accompanied by a live combo, Charles Schulz’s classic special will make audiences nostalgic for days gone by.

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical
Casa Mañana, through December 23
Based on the best-selling book and play by Barbara Robinson, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever: The Musical is the story of the Herdmans, who are the worst kids in the history of the world. They lie, they steal, they bully other kids, and they smoke smelly cigars. There used to be only one place where you’d never see them: church.

A Gospel Black Nativity
Jubilee Theatre, through December 24
Black Nativity is an adaptation of the Nativity story by Langston Hughes, performed by an entirely Black cast. Hughes was the author of the book, with the lyrics and music being derived from traditional Christmas carols, sung in gospel style, with a few songs created specifically for the show.

A Christmas Carol
Dallas Theater Center, through December 30
Three spirits have come to visit the miserly Ebenezer Scrooge, and to take him on a fantastic journey through Christmases past, present, and future. Brimming with joyful songs, magical spirits, and holiday cheer, this holiday classic embodies a story of joy, redemption, and the spirit of Christmas.

Safe at Home
Kitchen Dog Theater, December 7-10
An engaging and provocative site-specific work designed to be performed inside a baseball stadium, the second-ever professional production of Safe at Home examines the complex intersection between baseball, politics, and the American Dream. Lead by tour guides, pods of audience members travel throughout the stadium to nine different spaces, ranging from a luxury suite to the men’s room to the dugout, as the patrons — not the cast — move from scene to scene.

Theatre Three, December 7-31
Without a success to his credit for some years, Sidney Bruhl receives a new potential hit script called Deathtrap that was written by his student. Sidney plots with his reluctant wife Myra about how best to plagiarize the play and the evening takes a hilarious and dangerous turn.

The Cher Show
Broadway at the Center, December 14-16
Superstars come and go but Cher is forever. The Cher Show is the Tony Award-winning musical of her story, and it’s packed with so much Cher that it takes three women to play her: the kid starting out, the glam pop star, and the icon.

Les Miserables
Broadway Dallas, December 20-31
Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, the production tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption — a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. The epic and uplifting story has become one of the most celebrated musicals in theatrical history.

Director Todd Haynes tackles inappropriate relationships in May December

Movie Review

Director Todd Haynes has pushed buttons throughout his career, starting with his acclaimed short film, Superstar: The Karen Carpenter Story, which used Barbie dolls to illustrate the late singer’s anorexia battle. He’s at it again with his latest, May December, which tackles the idea of highly inappropriate relationships through a lens that itself has the potential to be upsetting.

Elizabeth (Natalie Portman), an acclaimed actress, has traveled to Savannah, Georgia to shadow Gracie (Julianne Moore) in preparation for a movie in which Elizabeth will play Gracie. That movie tackles the beginnings of Gracie’s relationship with Joe (Charles Melton), when he was a 13-year-old seventh grader and she was a 36-year-old pet shop worker. The shocking tryst resulted in much controversy, a child, and a jail stint for Gracie, but the couple professed their love for each other through it all.

Twenty years later, they’re still together, having added two more kids to their family, children who happen to be the same age as Gracie’s grandkids from her previous relationship. Elizabeth wants to experience it all, bouncing from person to person to try to understand exactly who Gracie is and was. Striving for authenticity in her performance, however, soon takes her down a Method acting rabbit hole.

Directed by Haynes from a script by Samy Burch, and loosely based on the story of teacher Mary Kay Letourneau and her 12-year-old student, Vili Fualaau, the film treats Gracie and Joe’s relationship in a relatively straightforward manner. It details a benign life in which they have the love of their kids and some neighbors, even if they occasionally get a box full of poop on their doorstep.

It’s the arrival of Elizabeth that sends things spiraling, as her various conversations trigger responses from both Gracie and Joe that they seem not to expect. Haynes alternates between being serious and being campy, with not enough of each for either for them to seem to be the goal. The score gives off a less-than-serious vibe, and an early scene in which a mundane thing is treated as if it were happening in a soap opera points in the campy direction, but those type of moments are few and far between.

In casting Portman as the obsessive actor, Haynes may have been trying to offer up echoes of her Oscar-winning role in Black Swan. It’s no small irony that the person who comes off as the most craven in such a sordid story is the actor who everybody wants to be around, not the woman who became a pariah because she is a sex offender. In that and other ways, Haynes upends expectations, keeping the film interesting even through its slower moments.

Portman and Moore are ideal for their respective roles, Portman because she has a knack for portraying confidence and guile, and Moore due to her ability to manipulate at will. Melton, best known for playing Reggie on Riverdale, pales in comparison due to his less showy role, but he complements the story well. Special notice goes to Elizabeth Yu as Gracie and Joe’s daughter Mary, who shines in her limited scenes.

The story of May December contains elements that will creep certain viewers out, whether it’s the subject matter itself or the performances of the two great lead actors. Haynes has a way of getting under the skin with his storytelling, and this film is yet another great example.


May December will debut on Netflix on December 1.

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December

Photo by François Duhamel / Courtesy of Netflix

Natalie Portman and Julianne Moore in May December.