By: Courtney Dabney
By: Malcolm Mayhew
Tips to Make the Most of Every Event:
1. Carpool, rideshare, bike, or walk whenever you can.
2. Wear comfy shoes for walking, standing and dancing.
3. Bring a stash of cash for vendors that don’t take credit.
4. Arrive early for the smallest crowds; come late for the liveliest energy.
5. For spring and fall events, dress in layers and always check the weather before you go.
Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival
Brunch to burgers and beyond with the best local chefs. So, you live for brunch. A cheeseburger is your spirit sandwich. Or perhaps you wear a ring with the word “TACOS” engraved on it. Follow your foodie dreams to the Fort Worth Food + Wine Festival, a four-day weekend that’s worth getting fat for. Intrepid souls can opt for the full festival pass and eat their way through all six events, but you can also pick and choose with individual tickets. Dozens of local chefs come out to play at the festival, and all four Texas food groups are well-represented: burgers, barbecue, tacos and beer.
Everyone is talking about this year’s new event, Tacos + Tequila, which kicks things off on Thursday night. Try tacos from eight trendsetting chefs paired with eight different tequilas. Rise + Dine is a day drinker’s delight, an indoor/outdoor brunch smorgasbord complete with coffee cocktails and couches on the grass. Party-seekers will find what they’re looking for (along with a sugar coma) at Desserts After Dark. It’s the late-night after-party for the lavish Main Event dinner, and many revelers arrive already well-sauced. Families flock to Burgers, Brews + Blues, and Pitmasters Picnic wraps up the festival with a slow-smoked feast on Sunday afternoon.
When: April 5-8 Where: Pier 1 Imports Building, Heart of the Ranch at Clearfork, Whiskey Ranch, and BRIK Venue in Fort Worth Price: $60-150 per event, $450 full festival pass
Craft Beer, Food, and Wine, plus Josh Abbott Band and Young the Giant. Sliding onto the scene at Globe Life Park this spring, the inaugural CFW Festival hopes to make a splash with a multi-sensory celebration of sight, sound and taste. Pop-up booths will host 30 different restaurants, wineries and craft beer vendors with a focus on North Texas microbreweries. Guests can stop by the Experience CFW tents for hands-on cooking demonstrations with local celebrity chefs every hour.
Listen to a solid lineup of musical acts each evening. Friday brings radio-friendly LA indie rockers Young the Giant and alt-R&B artist R.LUM.R. On Saturday, country music fans can shimmy to soulful sounds from Lonestar and sing-along hits with the Josh Abbott Band. High-tech RFID wristbands will make it easy to buy food and drinks at the festival without slinging a bunch of cash around. Opt for a VIP pass ($149.99) for the best parking, a welcome gift, access to a backstage hangout and one “experience” in the Experience CFW tents.
When: April 13-14 Where: Globe Life Park, 1000 Ballpark Way in Arlington Price: $49.99 adults, $11.99 children ages 12 and under
Denton Arts & Jazz Festival
Cross-cultural celebration with multiple music genres. Jazz is just the beginning at this sprawling outdoor event, which covers 32 grassy acres in Denton’s Quakertown Park. Bounce from stage to stage — there are seven of them — and listen to jazz, blues, R&B, world music, rock, pop, country, folk, zydeco, a little bit of this, and a little bit of that. Tap your toes to UNT jazz bands and clap your hands as dance troupes twirl and spin. Headliners for 2018 include Los Lobos (Chicano-Americana), Randy Brecker (powerhouse trumpeter), and Brave Combo (Denton’s Grammy Award-winning worldbeat/rock/polka band).
Feast on indulgent fair food: grilled meats on sticks, chocolate-dipped cheesecake and deep-fried everything. Over 300 artists and vendors set up shop at the festival, selling homemade soy candles, handmade dolls, fine artwork and metal crafts. Kids can croon along with the Singing Cowboy and bang out their energy at the Percussion Petting Zoo. Be sure to bring cash, as many vendors don’t accept credit cards. Lawn chairs and/or blankets are also essential for seating — get there early and claim a comfortable spot under a shade tree.
When: April 27-29 Where: Quakertown Park, 321 E. McKinney St. in Denton Price: Free
MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival
Award-winning creative showcase of art, music and food. Texas’ biggest art festival brings out the big guns on the red bricks of Downtown Fort Worth. You won’t find any starving artists here. These painters, sculptors and photographers are carefully selected for their top-tier talent; only 223 artists out of 1,273 applicants were selected for 2018. The result is a captivating, multimedia exhibition of truly impressive works created by the finest artisans. Be wowed by super-realistic oil paintings, cool kinetic sculptures and Day of the Dead dioramas. Buy a steampunk bracelet or a birdhouse made of doorknobs. Thumb through stacks of $20 prints or invest in an epic-sized masterpiece to happy up your home.
This year, the festival plans to refocus on its roots: art, food and music. You’ll notice a welcome change in the form of fewer booths from sponsors and outside organizations. “Basically, we’re getting rid of the ‘clutter’ and going back to the original ‘meat’ of the festival: world-class art, live music, and culinary treats,” explains Claire Bloxom Armstrong, the event’s public relations director. Musical headliners for 2018 include Jamestown Revival, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Pacific Mambo Orchestra, and Shane Smith & The Saints. Hit the craft beer garden, pick up a plate of jambalaya, and immerse yourself in the creative whirl of the MAIN ST. Fort Worth Arts Festival.
When: April 19-22 Where: Main Street from the Tarrant County Courthouse to the Fort Worth Convention Center in Fort Worth Price: Free
Scarborough Renaissance Festival
A reality escape with dragon rides, sword fights, and spaghetti juggling. Do you have a thing for mermaids or knights in shining armor? Have you always wanted to cheer at a combat joust or feast with the Royal Court? Maybe you’re just jonesing for a “Game of Thrones” fix — or dying to wear your Halloween costume again before fall. Dust off that Jon Snow cloak and get thee to the Scarborough Renaissance Festival.
If you haven’t been in a while, this is the year to gather your ladies-in-waiting and go. More than a dozen new shows are being added to the entertainment lineup, including acrobats, life-size puppets, a hoop enchantress, stilt walkers, silk aerialists, and a spaghetti juggler. A new Royal Court arrives on the scene with Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon on the throne. Their realm is a recreated 16th-century English village complete with 27 stages, 200 shops, 12 taverns and five food courts. Expect more pomp and pageantry than ever before, from ornate décor to fanfare ceremonies with trumpets blazing.
Grab a giant turkey leg and mingle with 150 costumed characters: peasants, nobles, merchants, wenches and jesters. Watch candle makers, blacksmiths and armorers practice ancient crafts. Be wowed by historical weapons demos, and dip your hand in hot wax for a weird yet colorful keepsake. Find mythical monsters, kiddie rides and proof that reality really is overrated.
When: April 7-May 28 on Saturdays, Sundays and Memorial Day Where: 2511 FM 66 in Waxahachie Price: $28 adults, $13 children ages 5-12, free for children 4 and under
Fort Worth Invitational
Fort Worth’s Annual PGA Tour Stop Returns for 72nd Year. In fall 2017, the existence of the Colonial Invitational was in question as title sponsors Dean & DeLuca pulled out just two years into their six-year contract. But golf fans can breathe easy because the celebrated competition, now named The Fort Worth Invitational, will definitely be taking place again this spring. First played in 1946, the tournament is a deep-rooted Fort Worth tradition and the longest-running PGA Tour event still being played at its original site. Club and city leaders have scrambled to find a replacement sponsor in order to keep the tournament going. American Airlines, AT&T, XTO Energy Inc., and Burlington Northern Santa Fe will sponsor the event this year.
Taking place on the week leading up to Memorial Day, this seven-day competition offers ample opportunities to watch some of the top golfers in the game. As one of only five PGA Tour stops given “invitational” status (versus open), the Fort Worth Invitational is limited to the very best players. Defending champion Kevin Kisner is expected to return for this year’s tournament, which features a purse of $7.1 million and $1,278,000 for the winner.
When: May 21-27 Where: Colonial Country Club, 3735 Country Club Circle in Fort Worth Price: $50 adults for daily grounds access, $15 youth ages 13-17, free for children 12 and under
Wonder-filled waterfront celebration at Trinity Park. Boasting a beautiful setting on the banks of the Trinity River, Mayfest is a whimsical springtime tradition that has delighted locals for almost half a century. The four-day fun fest has always been a favorite for families, but this year the event is making more of an effort to appeal to all ages. Over 40 musical acts will entertain the crowds from three different stages, including the Honda of Fort Worth Pavilion main stage. With ample seating, a massive tent, and plenty of beverage booths, this riverfront oasis is the heart of the festival. Tori Martin, Trey & The Tritones, and Me & My Monkey Beatles tribute band are all scheduled to perform.
Nearby you can watch cowboys do rodeo tricks with mechanical cows and horses at the Rodeo Zone, which is new for 2018. The Great American Duck Races will also return, along with the popular Best of the Fest Food Contest. Sip local brews in the craft beer garden and get your thrills at the newly expanded carnival. This year you’ll also find free admission on May 3 for everyone, May 4 for seniors, and every day for active, reserve, and retired military personnel along with five family members.
When: May 3-6 Where: Trinity Park, 2401 University Drive in Fort Worth Price: $8 adults, $5 children ages 3-12 and seniors 60+, free for children 2 and under
Cutting-edge rock, EDM, and hip hop in the Cultural District. Slamming onto the scene for the first time last year, Fortress Festival returns in full force for 2018 with another innovative lineup of boundary-breaking artists. The two-day event has already attracted national attention, propelling Fort Worth forward as a major music destination. Festival fans will find some big changes this time around, starting with the location of the outdoor stages. Both will be contained within a single perimeter on the grounds of Will Rogers Memorial Center. Spectators will still have access to exhibits and programming at The Modern but will no longer have to hike half a mile between stages and pass the wristband patrol with every bounce.
Fortress Festival brings fresh faces and sounds to Fort Worth with a lineup that pays more attention to what’s good than what’s hot. Discovering new favorites is a highlight of the weekend. Top performers this year include Father John Misty (provocative mad genius indie rocker), Courtney Barnett (witty Australian singer-songwriter), De La Soul (legendary hip hop outsiders), RZA (Wu-Tang frontman), Chicano Batman (Latin soul revivalists), and tUnE-yArDs (eclectic lo-fi art pop). Also on the lineup: The Voidz, Rapsody, Hurray for the Riff Raff, Waxahatchee, Shabazz Palaces, Lee Fields and the Expressions, Jay Som, The Texas Gentlemen, Bedouine, Vandoliers, Ronnie Heart, Cure for Paranoia, Andy Pickett, Midnight Opera, Henry the Archer, and Pearl Earl.
When: April 28-29 Where: Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth and Will Rogers Memorial Center in Fort Worth Price: $89 two-day pass, $44 single-day tickets
Taste of Fort Worth
Family-friendly food fest and BBQ cook-off with giant games. New on the scene for 2018, this summer celebration aims to attract families and foodies with a mix of fun games and free samples. A low cover charge ($10) gets you into Taste of Fort Worth, an alcohol-free outdoor event that features live music and a barbecue competition. Kids and the young at heart can play oversized games in the “Freeze Zone.” Challenge your friends to a corn hole competition or strap on a Sumo wrestling suit and throw down. Play giant Jenga and go giant bowling on the grass. Kids can meet Mr. Freeze and little ones can romp in a special toddler zone.
Enjoy samples from food trucks, barbecue makers, chefs and restaurants. If you like what you taste, full meals and snacks will be available for purchase. Cool off with a coconut snow cone from Kona Ice or get your sweet fix with Dapper Donuts. Enjoy Mediterranean wraps from Luna Grill and prime beef from Bob’s Steak & Chop House. More vendors will be announced in the coming months, including non-food vendors of fashion, arts and crafts.
When: June 16 Where: Wilkerson-Greines Activity Center, 5201 Ca Roberson Blvd. in Fort Worth Price: $10
Bedford Blues & BBQ Festival
Legendary backyard brouhaha and barbecue brawl. Smoke fills the air with the mouthwatering aroma of slow-cooked meat, and blues artists heat up the stage at this Labor Day Weekend event. Pitmaster pros from around the world battle for glory in a thick competition sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society. Bedford’s famous cook-off has been featured on numerous TV shows, including BBQ Pitmasters. Watch the masters of smoke and fire throw down on beef brisket, pork ribs, and barbecue chicken — and then sample the best of the best at the People’s Choice Event.
Besides the official competition, you’ll find plenty of barbecue treats, funnel cakes, and corn dogs for stuffing your face. Cool off under a shade tree and kick it to super-solid music from some of the top blues musicians in the biz. Shop for random treasures at the market, from artwork to handmade jewelry to spice rubs. Kids are welcome at the festival, but it’s really more oriented toward adults. Spring for reserved seats near the stage or a table in the party tent; otherwise, bring a blanket and find a sweet spot on the grass.
When: Aug. 31-Sept. 2 Where: 1951 L. Don Dodson Drive in Bedford Price: $7 general admission online or $10 at gate (cash only), free admission on Aug. 31
Rockin’ the River
Free outdoor concerts and tube floats on the Trinity every week. Grab an inner tube and cool off on Saturdays this summer with live bands on the Trinity River. Bobbing in the water with an ice-cold beer in your hand is a quintessential summer experience for many Texans. This weekly concert series at Panther Island Pavilion turns it into a bonafide party with nonstop music and a fireworks finale, all set against the backdrop of downtown Fort Worth. Five different bands play back-to-back sets each week on two stages. You’ll hear mostly Texas country artists with a little rock and soul thrown in for kicks. Performers confirmed for summer 2018 include Cody Canada and The Departed, The Dirty River Boys, Jackie Venson, The Peterson Brothers, Dalton Domino, and local favorites Grady Spencer & The Work.
Rent tubes (or bring your own) and listen to the music from the water. You can also rent kayaks, canoes, and paddleboards — all watercraft are welcome as long as they’re not motorized. Beer stands and food trucks provide fuel for the all-day event. Gates open at 1 p.m. each week, with music at the Coors Light Waterfront Stage starting at 2:15 p.m. After the headliner wraps up at 8:15 p.m., the party moves onshore with the last band playing until 9:15 p.m. A fireworks show over the Trinity River is the perfect nightcap.
When: July 7, July 14, July 21, July 28, Aug. 4, Aug.11 Where: Panther Island Pavilion, 395 Purcey St. in Fort Worth Price: Free
By: Courtney Dabney
By: Malcolm Mayhew