In Texas, we don’t always see a dramatic change in leaf color or consistent, cool temperatures in the fall, but we can count on our fall festivals to celebrate a change in season. Here, pumpkin bowling, Oktoberfest-inspired beer gardens, apple jumping, and costume photo ops infuse upcoming outdoor events.

Sugar Land Fall Festival

Guests can relax on the patio furniture at Sugar Land Town Square.

Planned Community Developers

The inaugural event at Sugar Land Town Square features apple races, potato sack races, pumpkin bowling and more fall fun. Jazz, country and zydeco concerts will take the stage, along with professional pumpkin carvers. They’ll show off their carving skills before leading a hands-on demonstration allowing guests to make their own pumpkins. Families can squeeze through an inflatable corn maze in front of City Hall, partake in crafts, and browse an artisan market featuring handmade goods, gifts, and other wares from local vendors.

10 a.m. to 3 p.m., September 24. Sugar Land Town Square, 2711 Plaza Drive, Sugar Land. Free; sugarlandtx.gov

The Original Greek Festival

William Venzke dances during the Greek Dance Performance as part of the 50th Annual Greek Festival hosted by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation on Sunday, October 9, 2016 in Houston.

William Venzke dances during the Greek Dance Performance as part of the 50th Annual Greek Festival hosted by the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation on Sunday, October 9, 2016 in Houston.

Elizabeth Conley / Houston Chronicle

Opa! Montrose’s beloved annual festival features authentic Greek food, wine and beer, authentic dance performances by adults and children and more. The family-friendly festival features an Athenian playground for children, tours of the cathedral, games, and a market filled with wine made by Greek Orthodox monks, artisan Greek foods and spices, and handcrafted goods.

5-10:30 p.m., Oct. 6, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Oct. 7, 11 a.m.-10:30 p.m., Oct. 8 Greek Orthodox Cathedral of the Annunciation, 3511 Yoakum Blvd. Tickets $5; free for children 12 and under; greekfestival.org

Katy Rice Festival

Alaina Thesing, 4, left, and Cullen Thesing, 9, of Katy pose for a fall display at the Katy Rice Festival in Katy, TX on October 13, 2018
Alaina Thesing, 4, left, and Cullen Thesing, 9, of Katy pose for a fall display at the Katy Rice Festival in Katy, TX on October 13, 2018Craig Moseley/staff photographer

At the annual event, which sprung up to celebrate the end of the rice harvest season, this year marks the return of the community rice cooking competition and, by popular demand, the carnival with a Ferris wheel and other rides and games. Added to the festivities are a beer garden, live music on three stages, a children’s area with inflatables, performances by local arts organizations for young people, food trucks and a craft market.

6 p.m. to 10 p.m., October 7. 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., October 8. 12 p.m. to 6 p.m., October 9. Historic Downtown Plaza, 910 Ave C., Katy. Free admission on Friday; Entrance fee Sat. – Sun. Adults, $10; free for children 12 and under; katyricefestival.com

48th Annual Texas Renaissance Festival

Two knights face off in armored combat in the arena Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, at the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, Texas.

Two knights face off in armored combat in the arena Saturday, Nov. 21, 2020, at the Texas Renaissance Festival in Todd Mission, Texas.

Jon Shapley/staff photographer

A permanent two-story immersive show and restaurant, Thirsty Pirate, has been erected on the site of the Texas Renaissance Festival. With pirate sails, palm trees, decor of skulls and crosses and bones and 64 beers on tap, it’s the largest structure ever built for the event, spokesman Carl Foy said. It will offer shows every hour, 500 seats and a covered terrace. At this multi-weekend event, period costumes are encouraged and the lineup ranges from falconry and jousting competitions to – new this year – tastings and education around mead, a Renaissance alcoholic beverage that the organizers liken it to honey wine. This year, new live entertainment on 27 stages includes a juggling court jester and a burlesque pirate act. For 17 days, 50,000 guests are expected in an annual festival that “is distinctly Texas,” Foy says, and the largest of its kind in North America. “Something you can’t miss in the fall.” First-timers can speak to volunteer ambassadors just inside the gates for recommendations on how to navigate the festival.

Weekends, from October 8 to November 27. FM 1774, Todd Mission, TX. Tickets from $15. Free for children 12 and under on Sundays; www.texrenfest.com.

25th Annual ARToberFEST

Historic downtown Galveston comes to life in vibrant color for the annual ARToberFEST held in Galveston's downtown Cultural Arts District.

Historic downtown Galveston comes to life in vibrant color for the annual ARToberFEST held in Galveston’s downtown Cultural Arts District.

Courtesy of Robyn Bushong

The juried fine arts festival, which attracts artists from across the country, takes up two blocks in historic downtown Galveston. Guests walk between two live music stages to interact with artists, many of whom show off skills such as woodcarving, painting and drawing in front of the audience. Along the way, art galleries, restaurants, and shops offer special festival activations. The 120 artists featured this year offer a variety of mediums and price points, from handmade clay jewelry starting at $30 to large-scale commissions. Local high school students will run a kid’s zone where kids can make crafts to take home.

10 a.m. to 6 p.m. October 15 and 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. October 16. Postoffice Street, between 21st and 23rd Streets, Galveston. Tickets, $5. Free for children 12 and under; artoberfest.com

20th Annual ArBOOretum

Houston Arboretum Arboretum

Houston Arboretum Arboretum

Courtesy of Houston Arboretum

Every year, children dress up in their Halloween costumes for the “nature trail” at the Houston Arboretum & Nature Center’s annual event. To collect candy at interactive stations spread throughout the grounds, kids can be challenged to dig through a tunnel, play a sticky spider web game using a ping pong ball, balance on a log like a squirrel or complete other agility challenges. Also on the program: a mini-farm, pony rides in the field, train rides in the parking lot, a pumpkin patch and pumpkin decorations. “Fall at the Arboretum is truly wonderful, sort of Houston at its best,” says staff member Christine Mansfield of the seasonal blooms, including native wildflowers unique to fall.

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., October 15. Last admission, 3 p.m. 4501 Woodway Dr. Tickets, $15 online, $20 at the door. Free for Arboretum members and under 3; www.houstonarboretum.org.

14th Annual Bridgeland Nature Festival

Bridgeland Nature Festival

Bridgeland Nature Festival

Bridgeland/John Everett

The Natural World Day Celebration, held at the residential community’s Oak Meadow Park, features a new headliner this year. Jungle Jordan, zookeeper and wildlife educator, will put exotic species on the main stage. With a mission to inspire the younger generation to learn more about conservation, the intimate and personal interaction with animals leaves children “wonderful and amazed,” says Bridgeland’s Lona Shipp. “Their expressions say it all.” Families, many of whom are dressed in Halloween costumes, can enjoy free kayak, canoe and paddle boat rides on the lake, climbing wall, outdoor laser tag, themed crafts nature, petting zoo, pony rides, bouncy houses and food trucks. In addition to on-stage animal education, conservation groups will offer get-togethers for children in the exhibit area, which in recent years has featured snakes and crocodiles. “Time spent in nature, especially time spent in nature, really does a lot for your overall health and well-being,” says Shipp. “With the kids, you really have a little window to help encourage that love for nature and the natural word.”

10 a.m. to 4 p.m., October 29. Oak Meadow Park, 17730 House Hahl Rd., Cypress. Free admission with certain activities on donation; bridgeland.com.

Nature Discovery Center Pumpkin Patch Fall Festival

Pumpkin Patch Festival at the Nature Discovery Center

Pumpkin Patch Festival at the Nature Discovery Center

Courtesy of the Nature Discovery Center

Tens of thousands of pounds of pumpkins will be trucked in for the Bellaire Nature Center’s two-day festival. Free event includes a nature scavenger hunt, face painting, rope bridge, animal encounters led by staff naturalists, inflatable obstacle course, crafts and food trucks . In addition to the fall theme, there are festival games such as candy corn toss, pumpkin ring toss, pumpkin bowling, and spider bean bag toss. In the patch, pumpkins for sale range from $2 to $15. At fall-themed family photo stations throughout the property, guests can use their own cameras or opt for formal photo shoots with a professional photographer.

7112 Newcastle, Bellaire. 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 15 and 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Oct. 16 Free admission; naturediscoverycenter.org.

Allison Bagley is a Houston-based writer.