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This weekend across Fort Worth offers a little bit of everything, including some top-level tennis, four concerts from different genres, a documentary about a legendary country singer, four festivals with vastly different focuses, the first holiday lights of the season, a new art exhibit, and a new local theater production.

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, November 3

WTA Finals Fort Worth
Fort Worth is hosting the prestigious year-end finale for the WTA, featuring the top 8 singles players and doubles teams. Players who've taken the court this week include U.S. Open winner Iga Świątek, Jessica Pagula, Coco Gauff, Caroline Garcia, and more. The tournament will go on through Monday at Dickies Arena.

The Cliburn presents Jessie Montgomery
Jessie Montgomery is a decorated composer and violinist whose works are frequently performed around the world by leading musicians and ensembles. Her music interweaves classical music with elements of vernacular music, improvisation, poetry, and social consciousness. She'll perform at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Friday, November 4

Magnolia at the Modern: The Return of Tanya Tucker - Featuring Brandi Carlile
The trailblazing, hell-raising country music legend Tanya Tucker defied the standards of how a woman in country music was supposed to behave. Decades after Tucker slipped from the spotlight, the rising Americana music star Brandi Carlile takes it upon herself to write an entire album for her hero based on Tucker’s extraordinary life, spurring the greatest comeback in country music history. This documentary follows Tucker’s richly creative, utterly captivating, bumpy ride back to the top as Carlile encourages her to push past her fears to create a new sound and reach a new audience. The film will screen six times through Sunday at the Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth.

Q BBQ Fest
The Q BBQ Fest gathers the finest pitmasters from across Texas and throughout the country to dish out award-winning smoked meats to BBQ lovers. The weekend-long celebration features tons of barbecue, local music, BBQ tutorials and demonstrations, and games and activities. The festival goes on through Sunday at AT&T Stadium.

The Light Park
Most holiday light shows wait until around Thanksgiving to open, but the new The Light Park is already raring to go. It features a mile-long, drive-thru spectacular where guests will witness millions of lights synchronized to a mix of music by DJ Polar Ice. Open daily through January 1 at Hurricane Harbor Arlington, the show claims it has the longest light tunnel in the world.

REO Speedwagon in concert
The legendary REO Speedwagon are now into their sixth decade as a recording group, as they released their first album in 1971. Their biggest days were in the early 1980s, when best-selling albums like Hi Infidelity, Good Trouble, and Wheels are Turnin' yielded hits like "Keep On Loving You," "Take It on the Run," and "Can't Fight This Feeling." They'll play at Billy Bob's Texas.

Foals in concert
English alt-rock band Foals has been big in their native UK since their debut 2008, as all seven of their albums, including the new Life is Yours, have made the top 10 over there. They've recently started to make inroads in the U.S. but still haven't come close to that popularity here. They'll look to change that with a two-night stint at Tannahill's Tavern & Music Hall, playing on both Friday and Saturday.

Saturday, November 5

Fort Worth Botanic Garden presents Japanese Fall Festival
At the Japanese Fall Festival, guests can enjoy traditional Japanese dance, music, martial arts, sword demonstrations, raku, tea ceremonies, and more. The festival, located inside the historic Japanese Garden inside the Fort Worth Botanic Garden, will take place on both Saturday and Sunday.

Studio Nano and Sleepi ZZZ presents Nishi Fest
Nishi Fest is a single-day celebration of anime and Asian pop culture in the west. Planned attractions and events include voice actor and industry guest panels, cosplay guests and cosplay contest, autograph sessions and photo ops, fighting game and TCG tournaments, exhibitors and Artists Alley vendors, a JDM/KDM car show and contest, Asian food truck style night market, and more. The festival will be at Arlington Convention Center.

Amon Carter Museum of American Art presents Charles Truett Williams: "The Art of the Scene"
Charles Truett Williams: "The Art of the Scene" examines the Fort Worth mid-century art scene through the presentation of more than 30 works by the Fort Worth artist and the artistic community drawn to his studio salon. Accompanying the works on paper and sculptures are ephemera from the recently acquired archives of Williams, enhancing the Carter’s strong holding of artist archives. The exhibition will be on display through May 7, 2023.

Social House Entertainment presents The Tacos & Tequila Festival
The Tacos & Tequila Festival may have food and drink in the name, but it's equally about the music, as it will feature performances by T.I., Lil Jon, Chingy, Baby Bash, Mike Jones, Petey Pablo, Twista, and DJ Ashton Martin. Attendees can enjoy chef-inspired tacos, tequila and margarita tastings, authentic Lucha Libre wrestling, an exotic car showcase, and a Chihuahua beauty pageant in addition to the music. The festival is at Panther Island Pavilion.

Casa Mañana presents Here You Come Again: How Dolly Saved My Live in 12 Easy Songs
Here You Come Again: How Dolly Saved My Live in 12 Easy Songs is a rollicking and touching new musical about a has-been-who-never-was comedian and his unusual relationship with his longtime idol, Dolly Parton. The show is a celebration of Dolly’s music and of the profound and funny things she has to say to us all about life, love and how to pull yourself up by your bootstraps during the toughest of times - even if your bootstraps don’t have rhinestones. The production runs through November 13 at Casa Mañana Theatre.

Joe Nichols in concert
Country star Joe Nichols has been crafting hits since his breakout in 2002 with his sophomore album, Man with a Memory. Thanks to songs like "Brokenheartsville," "Tequila Makes Her Clothes Fall Off," and "Gimmie That Girl," he's remained at the top of the genre for the past 20 years. He'll play at Billy Bob's Texas in support of his new album, Good Day for Living.

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Coco Gauff and Caroline Garcia play an early match at the WTA Finals in Dickies Arena.

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Tree-eating worm inches into this week's 5 most-read 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. This tiny green inchworm is why Dallas-Fort Worth trees are losing their leaves. If your backyard tree has suddenly and completely lost its leaves, there's a tiny green worm you can blame. It's called the cankerworm, AKA inchworm, and it has invaded trees across Dallas-Fort Worth.

2. These Dallas-Fort Worth high schools sit at head of the class as Texas' best. Several districts in Dallas-Fort Worth have earned extra credit for having the best high schools in Texas. In the latest rankings of the state's best high schools from education review website Niche, these DFW school districts dominated among the top 10 in Texas.

3. Gucci unzips first sumptuous Fort Worth boutique at Shops at Clearfork. Fort Worth fashionistas who, for months, have eagerly watched for the "Open" sign to appear on the city's first Gucci store, can finally grab their handbags and head over. Gucci will open at The Shops at Clearfork on Monday, October 10.

4. NFL legend Terry Bradshaw's ranch north of Dallas-Fort Worth listed for $22.5 million. An Oklahoma ranch around 70 miles north of Dallas-Fort Worth that’s owned by NFL Hall of Famer and Fox Sports analyst Terry Bradshaw is back on the market for $22.5 million. The 744-acre ranch was relisted after a deal with a would-be buyer fell through.

5. Award-winning Hurtado Barbecue brings the brisket & biscuits to Fort Worth. Award-winning Hurtado Barbecue quietly opened a location on September 27 in the Southside neighborhood, in the where it will serve barbecue with a Tex-Mex twist Tuesday-Sunday from 7 am-5 pm. The restaurant takes over the space at 1116 8th Ave. previously occupied by Derek Allen's Texas Barbecue, which closed in June.

This tiny green inchworm is why Dallas-Fort Worth trees are losing their leaves

Worm News

If your backyard tree has suddenly and completely lost its leaves, there's a tiny green worm you can blame. It's called the cankerworm, AKA inchworm, and it has invaded trees across Dallas-Fort Worth.

These tiny caterpillars feed off trees, completely defoliating the canopy — specifically the hackberry tree, their favorite. And in fall 2022, they've arrived in North Texas with a vengeance.

Residents from Mesquite on the east to West Fort Worth on the west have spotted the bright green worms, less than an inch long, swaying from silken strings, hanging from door eaves, yard furniture, open porches, anyplace they can catch a breeze.

These cankerworms are a regular part of Texas' fauna, but DFW is experiencing a rare widespread outbreak, says Amy Heath, a Board Certified Master Arborist and the owner of Texas Tree Surgeons, a tree trimming company based in Garland.

Heath says that her staff of arborists has been seeing the little critters — which she identifies as the sciota celtidella moth also known as the hackberry leafroller — all over North Texas.

"We've just started getting calls because the defoliation has become so dramatic over the last week," Heath says. "People become concerned when they see their trees losing all of their leaves."

While it's weird to see hackberry trees basically stripped of their leaves, it's not a real issue to the health of the tree — it's more of a nuisance, she says.

"You'll find clusters when you go outside, they're dropping out of trees, and the silken string is a little like a spider web," she says.

If they're in your doorway, prepare yourself because once you're inside, you'll probably find one or two in your hair.

Cankerworm outbreaks only come every few years, says Wizzie Brown, an Extension Program Specialist with Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service.

"They don't follow a calendar year," she says. "Outbreaks usually occur every 3-5 years and it’s not widespread — it's usually in geographic pockets. We had one in Central Texas last year."

Their occurrence is based on environmental conditions.

"Is the temperature right? Is there moisture? Even the daylight cycle," Brown says.

The weird 2022 summer in North Texas — where there was no rain for 100 days, then massive flooding storms — looms as a significant factor.

"That rain prompted vegetation to come out, with new growth," Brown says. "Insects are going to say, 'There’s food available, we need to get cranking'."

The last outbreak that hit DFW was in 2015, Heath says. This 2022 outbreak began surfacing the week of August 15, and their lifespan is about 4-6 weeks, so they're in their very final days, and their exit is hastened by the cooler nights we're finally starting to see.

"The bigger problem is the underlying stresses we have on our trees right now," Heath says. "This year has been hard on trees. We had the huge freeze in 2021, then this summer of drought, with higher temperatures that came early so the ground around the roots was hotter than it usually is."

"Hackberries get get a root fungus when they get stressed which makes them a risk for total failure," she says. "Most people look at the canopy, but the arborist looks at the bottom of the tree first."

Spraying pesticide isn't considered effective since the inchworms are so widespread and floaty in the air that they're impossible to capture.

"Maybe just get out the water hose and spray your doorway," Brown says.

Photo courtesy of Visit Marble Falls

6 perfect weekend getaways to plan around Texas this fall

Post-summer plans

With the end of this brutal summer finally (hopefully?!) in sight, it is time to start planning for fall. Call it second summer, as in still plenty warm for enjoying the outdoors but no longer hot enough to melt pavement. Here are six places perfect for a much-needed autumn getaway. Take a few extra days off for a long weekend, then head to one (or more) as your just reward for surviving another scorching Texas summer.

Lake Bastrop North Shore Park
This LCRA park in Bastrop hugs the shore of a constant temperature lake for swimming, paddling (canoe, kayak, SUP, and Corcl rentals available), or fishing (with a boat ramp and pier). The park features almost 10 miles of hiking and biking trails, including one connecting to Lake Bastrop South Shore Park, and a sand volleyball court, too. Stay in one of five Airstream campers, two cabins, or six safari-style tents. All have grills for cooking and decks for enjoying views of the lake and the stars while sipping a cold one. Other dining and entertainment options in nearby Bastrop include a distillery and several breweries and taprooms. Neighbor's Kitchen & Yard and Iron Bridge Icehouse, both on the banks of the Colorado River, serve food, craft beer and cocktails, and live music.

Lake Georgetown
At this Corps of Engineers reservoir, choose from four campgrounds with RV and tent camping options. Enjoy swimming, fishing, kayaking (rentals available at Russell Park), and hiking. The crown jewel is the Good Water Trail, a 26-mile loop around the entire lake through a variety of terrain, with multiple trailheads offering the opportunity for shorter hikes. Dining options, wine bars, breweries, and other lodging options are nearby in Georgetown. Check out Barking Armadillo Brewing and, on the courthouse square, three wine tasting rooms, and multiple dining options.

Matagorda Bay Nature Park
Located where the Colorado River meets the Gulf of Mexico, Matagorda Bay offers miles of uncrowded beaches for combing and wetlands for paddling. Rent beach chairs, wagons, and kayaks (guided tours available), play miniature golf, fish on the beach or pier, or birdwatch. In addition to Airstream rentals and camping and RV sites, visitors now can rent one of 10 new bungalows that sleep from six to eight people, with fully equipped kitchens, outdoor decks, gas grills, and fantastic views.

Port Aransas
Miles of beach, without summer crowds: What else do you need? Well, perhaps a place to stay, and you’ll find every option from fancy condos to kitschy cottages in this seaside town. Plenty of dining and entertainment options, too. Try the local seafood at places like La Playa Mexican Grill, Fins Grill & Icehouse, and Seafood and Spaghetti Works. Have a cold one at Bernie’s Beach House, the Port A Beer Hut, or Moby Dick’s. Rent bicycles, golf carts, surfboards, and kayaks at Island Surf Rentals (check out the Lighthouse Lakes Paddling Trail). Or just sit on the beach.

Painted Sky Inn
Located on a tranquil inlet of Lake Buchanan, this waterfront property offers rooms for two to ten people with kitchens and lake views, as well as a tiny home and a vintage Airstream. Amenities include fire pits, barbecue grills, a fishing pier, and canoes, kayaks, and paddle boards. Find miles of hiking trails at Canyon of the Eagles and Inks Lake State Park (day pass reservations recommended), or tour several nearby wineries (Torr Na Lochs and Fall Creek, to name two) and breweries (Save the World Brewing and Double Horn Brewing), plus dining options in Burnet and Marble Falls.

Frio River
The aptly named Frio River is famous for swimming and tubing in the summer. The most popular way to enjoy the river is Garner State Park, but getting weekend reservations can be tough. Another option is Neal’s Lodges, a sprawling family-owned complex that includes 81 cabins, 10 lodges, 17 condos, 45 RV hook-ups, and 16 tent sites, plus a country store and dining room. See a bat emergence at nearby Frio Cave or a bit farther away in Kickapoo Cavern State Park. Saturdays are for fine dining at The Laurel Tree and diner fare at Lost Maples Café, both in Utopia, and Concan has several eateries, as well (some close after the summer season, so check websites).

Photo courtesy of Explore Jacksonville

Explore your wild side in Jacksonville, a nature lover's dream getaway

On the Road

From the woods to the water — and even a safari-inspired adventure — Jacksonville has all your outdoor adventures handled.

Here are some ways to use your outside voice in this small-town East Texas gem.

Get on lake time
The crystal-clear waters of Lake Jacksonville make it an East Texas treasure — and a prime spot for splashing around. There are two public swimming areas, one of which is adjacent to covered campsites with picnic tables, a pier, and a sand beach.

And there’s plenty more to do across the 1,325 acres of liquid playground, including boating and fishing. It’s also where the city’s annual Fourth of July fireworks light up the sky.

Go on a safari
When you venture 12 miles east of Jacksonville, you’ll get up close and personal with a world of wildlife that’s anything but common to the area.

Cherokee Trace Drive-Thru Safari is home to exotic and endangered species that thrive in open habitats that are similar to their native lands. When you take a self-guided drive through the hills and savannas of the 300-acre preserve, you’ll spy animals at every turn: at watering holes, lazing under the canopy of a native tree, or striding across an open field. And, yes, some of the creatures will come say "hi."

Embrace the view
About four miles from downtown, Love’s Lookout is just the place to pack a picnic and soak in the scenery. Rising 240 feet above the surrounding terrain, the vaulted ridge boasts a panoramic view of the eastern horizon.

And although this place is lovely, the historic park was actually named after Wesley Love, who purchased the surrounding 600 acres at the turn of the 20th century.

Hug a tree
The Neches River National Wildlife Refuge features 7,000 acres and 25 miles of trail, ranging from a quarter-mile to seven miles each, where you’ll journey through beautiful native hardwood forests and the pine uplands while seeing and hearing lots of birds.

Hop a train
If you want to see outside, but not be outside, the Texas State Railroad takes you through the best views of the Piney Woods from the passenger car of an authentic steam or diesel locomotive.

No matter the season, the 50-mile roundtrip trek features rolling hills, 24 bridges, and unique railroad structures along the way. Also, while there may not be snow at Christmas, the Polar Express trip is still a holiday fave. All aboard!

Find more things to do — indoors and out — at Explore Jacksonville.

Photo courtesy of Crosbyton Chamber of Commerce

Stop along the Texas Plains Trail Region for stunning vistas and fascinating history

On the Road

Covering nearly 50,000 square miles, the 52-county region of the Texas Plains Trail features acres of prairie mixed with the spectacular canyon vistas of the Panhandle.

The rugged beauty and shimmering sunsets of the area make it prime road-trip territory, with plenty of scenic spots to stop for a picnic and a bit of local history, as documented by the Texas Historical Commission.

Hamblen Drive Roadside Park Picnic Area
This scenic park in Claude — about 30 miles east of Amarillo — boasts incredible, 360-degree views of Palo Duro Canyon.

The park gets its name from Will H. Hamblen, who pioneered a crude road into the canyon along old Native American trails in the 1890s. It shortened settlers’ trips by 120 miles but was steep and dangerous. In 1928, a graded road was built.

While you’re in Claude, swing by the Armstrong County Museum, which has an impressive collection of artistic, cultural, and historical objects that recount the arrival of cowboys and trains, along with the establishment of the legendary JA Ranch. The items also document the time of the native people who once lived and hunted on the land.

Part of the museum includes the 1915 Gem Theatre, where you can see movie memorabilia as well as live performances by local and touring drama and musical troupes.

Silver Falls Park
With status as the largest roadside park in Texas, this Crosbyton destination features a backdrop of mesas and mesquites — and its namesake falls — that make it a great spot for hiking, backpacking, and picnicking.

Located 30 minutes east of Lubbock, the park been a stopping point for travelers since the 1800s. In 1935, the National Youth Association, which was part of President Roosevelt’s Work Project Administration, built the park’s stone facilities, the remains of which you can still see today.

Also in Crosbyton, history comes alive at the Crosby County Pioneer Memorial Museum, which includes an expansive collection of 45,000 artifacts including 23,000 pieces from Native Americans, a Plains Indian teepee, a dugout recreation, and a furnished replica of an 1877 rock house of the county’s first permanent settlers.

Dickens County Springs Park
Off the beaten path is this little oasis of a park, located at the head of a ravine near the edge of the Llano Estacado.

About two hours shy of Palo Duro Canyon, it's a great place to take a break on your way to the canyon and beyond. There's also plenty to explore across its 72 acres of diverse terrain, with a few dedicated picnic zones enclosed by a teepee and the shell of a chuckwagon replica, too.

The ancient cold-water springs have been a favored place since the earliest human occupation in the region, with many nomadic tribes having used the site and leaving an abundance of archeological evidence in their wake.

Dickens is also home to one of the 22-foot-tall steel arrows by artist Charles A. Smith that form the Quanah Parker Trail. This network of more than 70 arrows commemorate the sites where the Comanches, and their last chief Quanah Parker, hunted, traded, lived, traveled, and fought.

Discover more picnic-ready and history-laden spots in the fascinating Texas Plains Trail region here.

Silver Falls Park in Crosbyton is the largest roadside park in Texas — and a great spot for hiking, backpacking, and picnicking.

Photo courtesy of Crosbyton Chamber of Commerce
Silver Falls Park in Crosbyton is the largest roadside park in Texas — and a great spot for hiking, backpacking, and picnicking.
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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.