A festival vacation – colorful, energetic, and culturally immersive – is a terrific way to meet locals and enjoy a new experience. In New Braunfels Fall is festival season and the mild temperatures and scenic Texas Hill Country make it a perfect vacation destination. Get away with your BFF or enjoy a romantic holiday with the love of your life. It’s a vacation to remember!
There are art festivals, craft beer pubs and wineries to visit. There’s outdoor recreation like cycling, running, kayaking and stand-up paddling. It’s often still warm enough to float the two fantastic rivers in a tube. Check some of the “festival” fun you can have in the Fall in New Braunfels:
The Comal County Fair – Have a taste of Texas culture! There’s a barbecue contest and a washer pitching contest. There’s a PRCA Rodeo, Bull Riding, a tractor pull, and livestock shows. Enjoy scooting a boot to The Bellamy Brothers and a George Strait Tribute Band. Don’t miss the parade that kicks it all off on Friday, September 29. New Braunfels takes the day off and everyone is either in the parade or gathered to watch it!
Cycling – As the weather cools off, cyclists converge for the Bike MS Valero Ride to the River. The October 7-8 Bike MS: Valero Ride to the River, presented by H-E-B, offers a variety of one-day and two-day ride distances. There’s even a 161-mile option. The ride from San Antonio to New Braunfels includes celebrations overnight and at the finish line. There are fun-interactive themed rest stops along the route. Experience the beauty of South Texas and the Hill Country for a cycling experience like no other.
Bring your bike for the Tour de Gruene November 4, too. Choose recreational tours from ride lengths of 14, 29, 41, 49, and 63 miles. Enjoy the Hill Country scenery along the tree-lined banks of the Guadalupe River. Ride through the heart of Texas and enjoy a post ride lunch and party. Cap off your evening with dining and dancing to Bavarian entertainment at Wurstfest!
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Wine and Craft Beer – The Gruene Music & Wine Festival October 5-8, is a four-day celebration of Texas and Americana music. Sample Texas, German and New World wines. Enjoy specialty beers, food and handcrafted items. “Texas Tastings & Tunes” on Saturday includes more than 40 wine and food producers for tastings. There’s ‘Le Cordon Gruene’ food alley, too. Sunday’s “Texas-Style Musicfest” includes a Specialty Beer Tasting event, two entertainment stages and the big game on a big screen TV. There’s a Craft Market on Saturday and Sunday. The “Not From Texas” kickoff event on Thursday features German and New World wines, live music and door prizes! Add a tour of the Texas Hill Country wineries and craft beer breweries. Start with the wineries and breweries in New Braunfels!
New Braunfels Historic Modelers Society Train Show – If you’re into model trains, you don’t want to miss this great show October 28-29. It takes up the entire New Braunfels Civic Center Exhibit Hall – 11,789 square feet! There are additional exhibits throughout the facility, too. Special features include a huge exhibit of Lego Trains and traveling model railroads of various scales. More than 60 vendors have displays on more than 300 tables for buying, selling, or swapping. There are door prizes, a silent auction, a museum store, and a mini food court. Children will enjoy the free ride ticket for the Landa Park Miniature Train. Or, they can be a Junior Engineer at a ‘Kids Run the Trains’ layout!
The Texas Clay Festival – The Gruene Historic District hosts the 25th annual Texas Clay Festival October 28-29. It features the work of more than 60 Texas potters and clay artists. You’ll find a wide variety of pottery, from traditional to sculptural by the top clay artists in Texas. The festival also provides a unique opportunity to watch and learn. There are demonstrations in four tents throughout both days. From the potter’s wheel to hand-building to raku firing, there is something for everyone.
Dia De Los Muertos – This fun packed festival October 29 includes food, arts & crafts, shopping, live music, and entertainment, as well as educational info on the history of the day. Entertainment includes Mariachi Internacional Monarca, Compania de Danza Folklorica and Tejano star Patsy Torres.
Marathons – November 18, runners gather for the Chosen Marathon CHOSEN HALF MARATHON & 5K. It’s the “Prettiest Race in Texas” making it the perfect destination race to add to your calendar. The Half Marathon is a point-to-point course that runs beside the Guadalupe River. The 5K is an out-and-back course that starts and finishes at Rockin R River Outfitters in Gruene. There’s also a Kids Fun Run!
Thanksgiving in New Braunfels includes the opportunity to run off a few pounds on November 23 with the city’s “Turkey Trot.” Enjoy an exhilarating 5k run/walk through the Gruene Historic District to start the day. Children under 12 years old can participate by chasing a Turkey Mascot for ¼ mile through Gruene!
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Wurstfest – The food festival to enjoy in Texas according to National Geographic Magazine. Wurstfest is one of the two top “Oktoberfest” celebrations in the nation according to USA Today. You don’t want to miss this November 3-12 unique annual celebration rich in German culture and full of Texas fun! There’s great food including sausage on a stick to sausage tacos. There’s lots of music and dancing, carnival rides and games. Try the German, Texan and domestic beers. Enjoy special events and the finest in Alpine and Bavarian Style Entertainment. It’s the best ten days in sausage history.
It’s time for a festival vacation! Make your reservations in New Braunfels now!
North Carolina’s Carowinds Theme Park will debut a newly expanded kids’ area, Camp Snoopy, opening for the spring 2018 season. Formerly known as Planet Snoopy, Camp Snoopy will feature new rides, a climb and play area, and a more natural looking midway that celebrates the beauty of the Carolina wilderness. Also new for 2018 is the Pre-K Pass, a season pass offering free admission to children ages three to five.
The Camp Snoopy playtime spot will feature five new rides:
- Camp Bus: Buckle up on the wacky camp bus and take a ride that will lift guests into the air and back down to the ground in smooth extensions.
- PEANUTS™ Trailblazers: Get behind the wheel of a Jeep-themed vehicle and burn rubber on a small, round speedway.
- Kite Eating Tree: Ride along in a kite vehicle that travels up and down a tree.
- Pig Pen’s Mud Buggies: Take a trip in a “mud buggy,” where guests will rotate around the popular Pig Pen character while bouncing on a bumpy ride.
- Woodstock Whirlybirds: Spin around in an oversized birds nest on this classic ride.
In addition, an 8,000 square foot climb and play area, Beagle Scout Acres, will be added. Children can explore the wide open space with three all-new features:
- The youngest adventurers will be able to gather in a fenced-in toddler area with lots of hands-on activities.
- A new play hill will be an open area for guests to enjoy slides and climb on a turf covered mound.
- Playground wood structures will have hands-on interactives, slides and plenty of things to climb.
The child care facility and Snack Shack restaurant will receive improvements as well.
Also for 2018, Carowinds will introduce the Pre-K Pass, a free season pass specifically for children. The Pre-K Pass provides complimentary admission for kids three to five years of age throughout the 2018 season as well as the remainder of 2017. Online pre-registration is required.
“The expansion of our kids’ area along with the introduction of the Pre-K Pass puts Carowinds as a top destination for families,” said Pat Jones, Carowinds vice president and general manager. “The new Camp Snoopy area joins our world-class attractions such as the record-breaking Fury 325 giga coaster and the massive Carolina Harbor water park in offering features that meet the needs of guests ranging from three to 23 to 93, providing unique opportunities for creating family memories.”
Guests may purchase a 2018 Gold Season Pass at the lowest price of the year. 2018 Gold Season passholders receive unlimited access to Carowinds as well as its Carolina Harbor water park in 2018, along with free admission to SCarowinds and WinterFest, access to special passholder-only events, plus one free visit during the remaining 2017 season. The special pricing ends October 29, 2017.
Carowinds, a 400-acre theme park located on the border of North and South Carolina, is home to more than 50 rides, shows and attractions, including 13 world-class rollercoasters and Carolina Harbor, a top-rated 27-acre water park.
Worlds of Fun, Kansas City’s hometown amusement park, will introduce a new family ride, Nordic Chaser, for the 2018 season. On Nordic Chaser, guests of all ages will board mini ships that rotate speedily around a circuit. The ride captures the imagination as guests experience the sensation of rising and falling along ocean waves. The ride will be placed in the park’s Scandinavia themed area.
“The new Nordic Chaser ride will allow parents and children the opportunity to make lasting memories together,” said Tony Carovillano, general manager, Worlds of Fun. “We strive to provide new and exciting changes at Worlds of Fun every year, and look forward to having more families experience every aspect we have to offer at the park.”
Returning for the 2018 season is the popular WinterFest holiday event. Winterfest showcases favorite holiday characters, spectacular light displays, ice skating, hands-on activities and live entertainment. The park will be transformed into a winter wonderland for several weeks starting in late November through December, 2018.
Also returning in 2018 is the Pre-K Pass, which grants complimentary admission to children ages three to five years old for the entire season. Online preregistration is required.
2018 season passes are on sale now at the lowest price of the season, and also include one visit to the park in 2017. The pass gives guests unlimited access to the new Nordic Chaser ride as well as all of the attractions in Worlds of Fun and the Oceans of Fun water park, plus special events like Winterfest, Halloween Haunt and The Great Pumpkin Fest.
Worlds of Fun & Oceans of Fun is a 235-acre amusement and water park in Kansas City, Mo. featuring more than 100 family rides, thrill rides, waterslides, shows and attractions including seven world-class roller coasters. The park also stages the Midwest’s largest Halloween event in September and October. Worlds of Fun is owned and operated by Cedar Fair Entertainment Company (NYSE: FUN), a publicly traded partnership and one of the largest regional amusement-resort operators in the world. The Company owns and operates 11 amusement parks, two outdoor water parks, one indoor water park and five hotels. For more information, see www.cedarfair.com.
This fall and winter, there is more to see and do in Orlando than any other time of year. With numerous food and wine feasts, unparalleled Halloween thrills and merry holiday theme park events, the excitement in Orlando is warming up even as the weather cools down. For a full schedule of fall happenings, year-round events, insider attraction tips and vacation planning guides, go to VisitOrlando.com.
Orlando’s Food & Wine Feasts
The destination’s growing reputation for superb dining meets a seasonal surge of events for a food-lover’s dream vacation in the fall. From a month-long affordable fine dining program to theme park and resort smorgasbords, there are flavors for all palates through November.
- Guests can dine on haute cuisine without burning through their budget during the 12th year of Visit Orlando’s Magical Dining Month (Aug. 25 – Oct. 1), when more than 100 of Central Florida’s top restaurants feature three-course, prix fixe dinner menus for $35. Joining the lineup of this year’s participating venues are six restaurants from Walt Disney World Resort hotels.
- At the Epcot International Food & Wine Festival (Aug. 31 – Nov. 13), taking place at the Walt Disney World Resort, guests can sip, sample and savor treasures from some of the world’s most famous wineries and celebrated chefs as they circle World Showcase. New this year, guests can enjoy tastings from the Coastal Eats Booth and Cheese Studio, as well as delicacies from India, Thailand and Spain in the Global Marketplace.
- Waldorf Astoria Orlando and Hilton Orlando Bonnet Creek’s Food & Wine Weekends (Sept. 8 – Nov. 12) celebrate fine wine, spirits and the culinary arts. Now in its seventh year, the event takes place on a series of weekends throughout the fall and features a variety of distinct menus and pairings curated by the executive culinary team. Open to resort guests and the public, the program will include a macaron bar, traditional Royal Tea and Bar du Chocolat with Champagne tasting.
- The Walt Disney World Swan and Dolphin Food & Wine Classic (Oct. 27 – 28) features wines from around the world and a variety of culinary dishes prepared by award-winning chefs. Educational seminars range from wine-blending to pasta-making from scratch. A special Sunday Bubbles Brunch returns this year on Oct. 29, featuring a variety of cured meats, imported cheeses, an array of sushi and of course, Champagne.
Halloween Capital of the World
The Theme Park Capital of the World® transforms into the Halloween Capital of the World during the six weeks leading up to Oct. 31, where the celebrations are mild, wild and wonderfully themed to capture the fun and thrills of the Halloween season.
- At Walt Disney World Resort during Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party (Aug. 25 – Nov. 1), guests have an extra week to enjoy trick-or-treating throughout the Magic Kingdom, catch the “Boo-to-You” Halloween parade or Hocus Pocus Villain Spectacular and stay for the bewitching “Happy HalloWishes” fireworks.
- SeaWorld’s Halloween Spooktacular (Sept. 23 – Oct. 29) at SeaWorld Orlando invites youngsters to trick-or-treat among friendly sea witches, octopuses, mermaids and pumpkin fish in an underwater fantasia. Cookie decorating and candy galore make this a sweet Halloween event for families to splash into.
- Universal Orlando Halloween Horror Nights (Sept. 15 – Nov. 4) at Universal Studios Florida allows guests to face their deepest fears in themed haunted houses, “scare zones” and mazes inspired by critically-acclaimed movies and television series. This year’s terrors are inspired by the hit television show American Horror Story, horror movie classic, The Shining, and much more.
- Brick or Treat (Oct. 14-15, 21-22, 28-29, 31) at LEGOLAND Florida Resort promises the spookiest and kookiest Halloween event. Celebrate weekends in October with larger-than-life LEGO models, a costume parade, trick-or-treating, a Halloween-themed fireworks show and much more.
Holidays at Orlando’s Theme Parks
Orlando celebrates the most magical time of year with balmy weather, special events and spirited live entertainment, creating an unforgettable and festive setting for a winter getaway that trades snow for sunshine.
- Walt Disney World Resort offers an array of holiday fun (Nov. 9 – Dec. 22), including the transformation of Cinderella Castle into a glistening ice palace at Mickey’s Very Merry Christmas Party; the Candlelight Processional at Epcot features an exciting line-up of new celebrity narrators including Neil Patrick Harris, Pat Sajak, CCH Pounder and Trace Adkins; and a free-entry holiday wonderland at Disney Springs showcases carolers, performances and a meet-and-greet with Santa.
- Universal Orlando Resort invites guests (Nov. 18 – Jan. 6) to the Macy’s Holiday Parade at Universal Studios, where the streets are filled every evening with the same larger-than-life balloons seen in Macy’s famous Thanksgiving Day Parade in New York City. Meanwhile, at Universal’s Islands of Adventure, families will light up with holiday cheer as Grinchmas comes to life throughout Seuss Landing. New to this year, The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will be transformed with wondrous, holiday spirit.
- Waves of holiday spirit splash over the park during SeaWorld Orlando’s Christmas Celebration (Nov. 24 – Dec. 31). In a wintery, watery wonderland, guests of all ages will enjoy stunning live shows inspired by the natural world, a glittering sea of lit Christmas trees and beloved Christmas character Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer and friends.
- LEGOLAND Florida Resort offers families one-of-a-kind photo opportunities with a life-sized LEGO Model Santa Claus and 30-foot-tall LEGO Christmas tree during Christmas Bricktacular, taking place select dates in December.
The Orlando Destination
Home to seven of the world’s top theme parks, Orlando is the No. 1 family vacation destination, Theme Park Capital of the World®, and most visited destination in the United States. An unparalleled mix of unique experiences create cherished memories for visitors, including legendary theme parks from Disney, Universal and SeaWorld, an array of world-class water parks, entertainment venues, an award-winning food scene, shopping, sports and nightlife. And, with 450 hotels, Orlando offers more lodging options than nearly any other destination in the world, from expansive resorts to uniquely themed hotels.
This September, visitors to Florida’s Sarasota County can enjoy deals and specials at area shopping locations during the “Shoptember” promotion. Visit Sarasota County (VSC) is joining with retailers, shopping districts and more throughout the region to promote deals and offerings.
“This is the second annual Shoptember program,” says Virginia J. Haley, CDME, President of Visit Sarasota County. “September is historically a slower period for many of our tourism partners including shopping districts. Similar to our other successful promotions such as Savor Sarasota Restaurant Week and Sarasota Summer Stage that drive business during needed time periods, we aim to bring awareness of shopping districts and their offerings and ultimately drive visitation to these shopping amenities during this need period.”
Shopping districts in the area include St. Armands Circle, Lakewood Ranch, the Mall at University Town Center, Venice Main Street, Historic Palm Avenue and the Shoppes at Sarasota Row in downtown. Shopping for major brands is possible at places like Westfield’s Sarasota Square and the Ellenton Outlet Mall and visitors can peruse local shops along Dearborn Street in Englewood and in the Gulf Gate neighborhood.
Deals range from passport savings to various retailers to Florida resident rates and deals at area hotels. A full list of deals and information can be found at www.SarasotaShoptember.com
Shoptember in Sarasota County lasts the entire month of September 2017.
For more information on Sarasota County visit www.visitsarasota.org.