Throw your plans out the window. We scoured the state in search of the top events and offerings, from the opera in Houston and Friday night lights in Odessa to surfing along the coast and hiking in the mountains. Here’s our super select guide to the things you absolutely can’t afford to miss.
[Apr 15–Apr 21]



Photograph by Mark Davis

Meat and Potatoes
Buffalo Gap is to grub what Marfa is to art. And Tom Perini is the Gap’s equivalent of Donald Judd, the minimalist artist who put Marfa on the map. Perini’s no-frills approach to preparing steak has earned him nods as one of the nation’s top chuck wagon chefs. And Perini is at the height of his powers after appearing on the cover of the April issue of TEXAS MONTHLY. So expect this year’s Buffalo Gap Wine & Food Summit, which occurs at Perini Ranch, to be the culinary event of the year in Texas. But Buffalo Gap is south of Abilene, comes the complaint, which isn’t exactly a hop-skip from any of the state’s major cities. Then perhaps it’s worth mentioning that one of Perini’s guests is Jacques Pépin, a former personal chef to Charles de Gaulle. If ever there was a place to scarf down steak frites, this is it.
Perini Ranch, April 15–17, various times.


Panhandling for Fiction
Reading a George Saunders story is like solving a riddle. On the surface, his narratives just seem like crack-pot imaginations (in one novella, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, giant belt buckles stapled to tuna fish cans compete for scare resources with other abstract shapes). And they are. But they’re also rooted in morality. Saunders, who will read one of his New Yorker stories at the former home of Katherine Anne Porter, began his life in Amarillo. He moved to Chicago right away, but came back every summer to visit his grandparents. It was during these trips, when Saunders would drive around the Panhandle with his traveling-salesman grandfather, that some of the seeds for his fiction were planted. “I loved the way that something old and classically Texas, like a red clay canyon, would abut against something new and weird, like a closed-down water theme park,” Saunders said. “It was exciting to think of what a literary analog of that might look and sound like.” Be among the few who know to ask him about his days as a knuckle-puller at a West Texas slaughterhouse.
Katherine Anne Porter Literary Center, April 15, 7:30 p.m.


Photograph by Kristie Woodworth

Crystal Castles
Jimi Hendrix’s legacy lives on in many ways and surely one of the most psychedelic of them is the Texas Sand Fest. This will be the fifteenth year that competitors have built castles in the sand. And mermaids. And giant hands. And Jimmy Buffet. With more than two hundred sand men and women participating, there is plenty to see on the beach for free. But it will cost two dollars to enter the fenced-off area where the Master Sculptor Contest is held. It’s something to consider if taking photographs is the plan, since it offers the Gulf of Mexico as a backdrop. And that’s probably going to benefit an entry in the Photo Contest, which allows the legion of people who haven’t a clue how to shape sand an opportunity to show off their point-and-click skills. Anyone who captures Hendrix’s “golden winged ship” in the horizon will be the front-runner for first place.
Port Aransas, April 15–17, 8 a.m.


Photograph by Susan Roads

Yesterday’s Festival Today
Music festivals used to be happenings. People winged it. They camped out. Clothes were optional. Deodorant was a luxury. It was about being the music. The Old Settler’s Music Festival is as close to the old days as it gets. It purveys the finest in Americana and roots. Naturally, there are a bunch of musicians from Austin. Can’t-misses are the Gourds, the juke-joint band whose commercial success never matched its cultdom, and Ruby Jane, a fiddler prodigy who was once awarded the Daniel Pearl Memorial Violin in honor of the slain journalist. But this isn’t a locals-only affair. There are also plenty of national acts, including Trampled By Turtles, the jam band of the moment, and Langhorne Slim, a Brooklynite who wields raucous old-time tunes. Where there isn’t much diversity, though, is in the food. It’s mostly barbecue. But that’s okay, because the nearby Salt Lick slow-cooks some of the most delectable meat around.
Salt Lick Pavilion and Camp Ben McCulloch, April 14–17, various times.


Photograph by Geno Loro

Main Thoroughfare
The Harris List of the best arts & crafts shows in the country has ranked the Main Street Fort Worth Arts Festival as number one in Texas—and that’s selling it short, since a lot of visitors come expressly for the live music and food.
Downtown, April 14–17, various times.


Sweet Nothings
The Mobile Loaves & Fishes Street Retreat is a few-of-its-kind weekend immersion into the local homeless population, where looking within is encouraged, but a cell phone, money, and food and water are not.
Downtown, April 17–20, various times.

• • • • •

Six more gotta-see, gotta-do events that you can’t afford to miss.
By Olivia LaVecchia


Lil Wayne: I Am Music II Tour
The hip-hop powerhouse’s post-prison tour, featuring opening sets from Nicki Minaj, Rick Ross, Travis Barker, and Mixmaster Mike.
American Airlines Center, April 15, 7 p.m.


Classical Concert #6: Pictures at an Exhibition
Violinist Dmitri Berlinsky performs three works, with an orchestra.
Plaza Theatre, April 15 & 16, 7:30 p.m.


Galveston Island Food & Wine Festival
Two wine tastings are the highlight of the second annual festival, which also includes special events at local restaurants.
Various locations, April 14–17, various times.


The Music of Led Zeppelin: A Rock Symphony
The Houston Symphony takes on Led Zeppelin’s hits with an orchestra, a rock band, dramatic lighting effects, and Zebra front man Randy Jackson.
Jones Hall, April 15, 7:30 p.m.


The ten-day, one-hundred-event festival wraps up with carnivals, tastings, tours, and parties to celebrate the city’s history and culture.
Various locations, April 7–April 17, various times.


Texas Mesquite Art Festival
Artisans showcase furniture, art, accessories, and all else made from the hardwood.
Fort Concho, April 15 at 4, April 16 & 17 at 10 a.m.