25+ Fall Festivals & Events in Houston: Mostly Free!

fall festivals 2014It’s October 1 — time to officially think about fall fun in Houston! Here are some family-friendly Fall festivals and events in Houston listed by free and cheap.

Free

Houston Fire Fest at Val Jahnke Training Facility
October 4, 10 am – 5 pm
8030 Braniff

See live fire demonstrations, Safety Skills Zone, Kids’ Zone, antique fire trucks, food and fun.

Boo on the Boardwalk in Kemah
October 10 – 31

Enjoy trick or treating at retail stores 4 pm – 8 pm Fridays – Sundays, outdoor movie each Friday night, Monster Magic Show on Saturdays, Kids’ corner activities, and more. Find the schedule online here.

Cy Fair Fire Fest 2014 at CFVFD Station 11
October 11, 10 am – 2 pm
18134 West Road near Lone Star College Cy Fair

See vehicle rescues, fire and ladder trucks up close, walk through the interactive Smoke house, see Hermann Hospital’s Lifeflight helicopter and more.

KBR Kid’s Day at Buffalo Bayou
October 18, 11 am – 3 pm
Sabine Promenade, 150 Sabine Street

It’s free family fun with kayak demonstrations, hands-on nature-themed crafts, park performers, music, food and more. Don’t miss pontoon boat tours, face painting, balloon artists, and the Halloween Costume Parade!

Pumpkin Patch Fall Festival at Nature Discovery Center
October 18-19, 11 am – 4 pm
7112 Newcastle

Enjoy family fun, food, kids’ games, wagon rides, and photo opps with the pumpkin patch.

Dragon Boat Regatta in Sugar Land
October 18-19, 8:30 am – 4:30 pm
1 Fluor Daniel Drive, Sugar Land

Cheer on the dragon boat teams at this 11th annual event.

Thrill at the Mill Fall Festival at 7 Acre Wood
October 18, 10 am – 4 pm
4401 N. Frazier, Conroe

Enjoy the petting zoo, new playground, rope slide and mini golf. Some additional activities require a fee.

The Addams Family Musical at Miller Outdoor Theatre
October 23-25, October 30-November 1, 7:30 pm
6000 Hermann Park Drive.

Hocus Pocus Pops Concert with Houston Symphony
October 24, 7:30 pm
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion, The Woodlands

Free lawn and mezzanine seats for this annual concert.

Fall Festival at Houston Humane Society
October 25, 11 am – 2 pm
14700 Almeda

Free adoptions on select pets, blessing of the animals, face painting, bounce house, kids’ and pet photos, trick or treat stations, pumpkin painting and more!

Howl-O-Ween Fest at Bridgeland
October 25, 10 am – 4 pm
North Bridgeland Lake Parkway

Enjoy stage performances by the Olate Dogs (America’s Got Talent winners), pumpkin decorating, competition jumps from Splash Dogs, fall craft making, street performers, sidewalk chalk art, trick or treating, food trucks, farmers market and more.

Ghostly Gardens at Moody Gardens
October 26
Galveston

Free trick or treating, crafts, costume contest with prizes, and face painting. $5 admission to each attraction for those in costume.

Trick or Treat Trail in The Woodlands
October 26, 3 pm – 6 pm
Town Green Park at Woodlands Waterway

Enjoy trick or treating, costume contests, children’s activities, games and vendor booths.

Scream on the Green at Discovery Green
October 31, 6 pm – 10 pm
1500 McKinney

It’s the city’s official Halloween party with a screening of Frankenweenie at 7 pm and citywide costume contest and Halloween celebration.

CyFest at Lone Star College Cy Fair
November 1, 10 am – 2 pm
9191 Barker Cypress

Celebrate the 10th anniversary of CyFest with fall festivities and family fun.

Via Colori in downtown
November 22-23, 10 am – 6 pm and 10 am – 5 pm
Downtown Houston at Hermann Square at City Hall

Enjoy Houston’s largest outdoor chalk festival benefiting the Center for Hearing and Speech. Browse the fabulous chalk art, play in the Family zone, do a scavenger hunt and play chalk games.

Art in the Park Outdoor Art & Music Festival in Friendswood
November 8-9, 10 am – 6 pm and 11 am – 5 pm
Stevenson Park, 1100 S. Friendswood

Enjoy art zone for kids, music, live demonstrations and more.

Not Free

Original Greek Festival at Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral
October 2-5, 5 pm – 10 pm Thursday; 11 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 10 pm Friday; 11 am – 10 pm Saturday; and noon to 6 pm Sunday
3511 Yoakum
Price: $5 adults, kids free

Enjoy cathedral tours, Greek folk dancing, live music, an Athenian playground featuring children’s activities, and lots of amazing Greek food!

Monster’s Museum of Houston at Children’s Museum of Houston
October 9-November 2
1500 Binz
Price: $9 admission ages 1 and up

Enjoy daily trick-or-treating 4 pm – 6 pm weekdays and 4 pm – 8 pm Thursdays and weekends, paint pumpkins, do science experiments and more. Moe’s Monster Mash Bash is the October 31 Halloween party!

Zoo Boo at Houston Zoo
October 10 – October 26 — Fridays (9 am – 1 pm) and weekends (9 am – 4 pm)
6200 Hermann Park Drive
Price: $15 adults, $11 kids 2-11. {Area college students free (Rice, Texas Southern and U of H). HBU and HCC students save $2 off tickets with student ID. Buy tickets in advance at Fiesta and save $2 off adult admission and $1 off child admission. AAA members save $2 each adult and $1 off child.}

Enjoy the pumpkin patch, Monster Mural, paint your pumpkin, costume parade and the new costume contest. Don’t miss the candy stations, carnival games and bounce house.

Katy’s Rice Harvest Festival in Katy
October 11-12, 10 am – midnight and noon-6pm
Price: $8 adults, kids 10 and under free

Kids’ entertainment zone, 325+ craft booths, food and parade (October 4).

Bayou City Arts Festival in downtown
October 11-12, 10 am – 9:30 pm and 10 am – 6 pm
Price: $15 adults, $3 kids 3-12

Explore 300 artists, enjoy creative zones for kids, food and music.

Fright Night at the Museum Haunted House at HMNS Sugar Land
October 24, 7 pm – 9 pm
Houston Museum of Natural Science, 13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land
Price: $10, $5 members

Enjoy the haunted house at the museum plus games and treats.

Tricks, Treats & T-Rex at HMNS Sugar Land
October 25,
Houston Museum of Natural Science, 13016 University Blvd., Sugar Land
Price: $15 adults, $13 kids

Enjoy costume fun, science experiments, games, treats, and a costume parade.

ArBOOretum at Houston Arboretum & Nature Center
October 25, noon – 5 pm
4501 Woodway
Price: $15 for age 3 and up

Enjoy hay rides, Trick of Treat forest, baby animal petting zoo, hay maze, pumpkin decorating, and live owls.

Children’s Festival in The Woodlands
November 8, 10 am – 5 pm and November 9, noon – 5 pm
Cynthia Woods Mitchell Pavilion
Price: $8 in advance or $10 at the door for ages 2 and up

Enjoy arts and crafts, science experiments, live community performances, petting zoo, kite making, train ride, hands-on activities, and more!

Taco Cabana: Free Fajita Taco October 1 (4pm -7pm)

Taco Cabana free taco October 1Get a free Chicken Fajita Taco at Taco Cabana, 4 pm – 7 pm, October 1, and celebrate National Taco Day a few days early!

While you’re there, consider buying $1 coupon books, good for five free bean and cheese taco coupons — with 100 percent of the proceeds benefiting Warrior and Family Support Center in San Antonio. The Center helps those returning from duty reconnect with their families and restart their lives. This October fundraiser is dubbed Taco Treat!

No purchase necessary for the free taco, while supplies last. One free taco per person.

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Free: Original Greek Fest October 3 (11am-3pm)

Original Greek FestivalCelebrate the Greek culture all weekend! The 48th annual Original Greek Festival returns to Houston October 2-5. Just $5 admission (free for kids 12 and under) is your ticket to complete Greek fun. Enjoy FREE admission Friday, October 3, 11 am – 3 pm.

Enjoy cathedral tours, Greek folk dancing, live music, an Athenian playground featuring children’s activities, and lots of amazing Greek food! Hours are 5 pm – 10 pm Thursday; 11 am – 3 pm and 5 pm – 10 pm Friday; 11 am – 10 pm Saturday; and noon to 6 pm Sunday.

Annunciation Greek Orthodox Cathedral complex is located at 3511 Yoakum near downtown and the Museum District. Free parking and free shuttle at two park-n-ride locations: Lamar High School and City of Houston Lot H.

photo courtesy Greek Festival

7 Free Things to Do in Houston This Week

There’s never a dull moment in Houston. Here are 7 options for free fun in Houston September 29-October 3 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Tuesday (9/30) — It’s a big outdoor Foam Party at this week’s Toddler Tuesday! The fun kicks off at 10:30 am with tons of foam and an appearance by Doc McStuffins. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Tuesday (9/30) — The Intergalactic Nemesis is touring the country and hits Houston September 30 at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The free event will be on stage at 11 am and 7:30 pm where actors will voice the characters from the comic book — shown as panels on a giant screen. For more info on The Intergalactic Nemesis, a live-action graphic novel, head online here.

Tuesday (9/30) — Support the performing arts with Last Tuesday Concert Series Tuesday, 5 pm – 7 pm. This month’s concert at GreenStreet downtown features talented students from The High School for the Performing and Visual Arts. Held the last Tuesday each month through October. Located at 1201 Fannin.

Wednesday (10/1) — Enjoy your lunch time Wednesday with free classical music downtown at A Little Day Music, presented by Da Camera. The free concert begins at noon at Wortham Theater Center’s Grand Foyer featuring works by Beethoven, Debussy, Haydn, and Mozart. Feel free to bring a lunch.

Wednesday (10/1) — It’s a special concert dubbed No Bully Here Wednesday, 11 am, at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The Foundation for Modern Music addresses bullying through music and dance.

Wednesday (10/1) — Get informed about Wildlife Conservation efforts at the Houston Zoo. The Zoo’s Chief Veterinarian will share info about the Zoo’s breeding programs and field work regarding Houston Toads, Attwater’s Prairie Chicken, and Texas Sea Turtles. The free talk at 7 pm is located at Nature Discovery Center, 7112 Newcastle in Bellaire.

Thursday (10/2) — Seven free museums on Thursdays in Houston! For example, it’s Free Family Night at the Children’s Museum of Houston, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Learn about fire and electricity safety with this special theme that kicks off October 2 in honor of Fire Prevention Week. Located at 1500 Binz.  Get info on the other six free Thursday museums here.

Free Texans Slush at Sonic After Houston Texans Win + Other Freebies and Deals

Free Texans Slush at SonicThere are lots of freebies and deals after the Houston Texans win this year. Let’s root for another win Sunday! Here’s the schedule:

MONDAY

Firehouse Subs — The day after a Texans’ win, get a free medium sub (with purchase of medium drink and chips) when you wear Texans’ logo.

Papa Johns — The day after a Texans’ win, get 50% off your online pizza order at Papa John’s. Use code TEXANS for each pizza ordered to get this deal at PapaJohns.com.

Chick-fil-A Sawyer Heights — The day after a Texans’ win, get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich from 11 am – 2 pm at Sawyer Heights location. No purchase necessary but you have to say “Go Texans!”

Chick-fil-A Silber & I-10– The day after a Texans’ win, get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich from 11 am – 2 pm at Silber & I-10 location. No purchase necessary but you have to say “Go Texans!”

Chick-fil-A I-45 and Wayside — The day after a Texans’ win, get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich from 11 am – 2 pm at I-45 and Wayside. No purchase necessary but you have to say “Go Texans!”

Crave CupcakesBuy 1 cupcake, get 1 free on Monday after a Texans’ win.

Jack in the Box — Get a free monster taco the day after a Texans’ win when you say Texans Touchdown for Tacos at Houston-area locations.

TUESDAY

Chick-fil-A I-45 and Wayside — The Tuesday after a Texans’ win, get a free Chick-fil-A sandwich from 11 am – 2 pm at I-45 and Wayside. No purchase necessary but you have to say “Go Texans!” This is valid through October 2014.

Sonic — Get a free Texans slush at Sonic Tuesdays after a Houston Texans win. Once again, Houston can enjoy a free Texans slush Tuesdays after each Houston Texans win. The Texans slush is a blend of cranberry & cherry to get that Texans’ red!

According to the promotion, you can get one free slush/person present. Find a list of participating Sonic locations online.

National Coffee Day 2014 Freebies in Houston

coffeeDid you remember that National Coffee Day is Monday, September 29? Here are some freebies in the Houston area:

Dunkin’ Donuts is offering a free medium cup of its brand-new Dark Roast Coffee September 29. One cup per guest. The medium Dark Roast Coffee will be priced 99¢ from September 30-October 5. Plus get special pricing September 26-29: 16oz bags of coffee or K-Cups will be $6.99 in stores.

IKEA Houston is sharing a coffee freebie September 29 for IKEA Family members who show their card: members receive a free bag of UTZ certified coffee September 29 in the Bistro. FAMILY members get a free cup of coffee every day all day in the restaurant on the 2nd floor. It’s free to become an IKEA Family member! Sign up online.

McDonald’s is giving away a free small McCafé coffee September 29 during breakfast hours as part of its two-week promotion! September 29 will be the last day for free McDonald’s coffee.

VERTS Spring Opens September 27 w/ Free Food

verts springVERTS Kebap is opening its fifth Houston location this weekend. This fast casual restaurant from Austin built its concept around the döner kepab, Germany’s favorite street food.

VERTS opens in Spring September 27 at its Grand Opening, 11 am – 8 pm. Don’t miss free food all day (one full-size entree per person), live DJ music, and a raffle to win free kebaps for a year. The Spring location is at 1600 Louetta.

Never been to VERTS? You’re in for a treat! The kebap is similar to a panini-pressed sandwich filled with vertically roasted meats, veggies, and yogurt-based sauces.

Free Thursday Concert Series Returns September 25 to Discovery Green

The fabulous free fall outdoor concert series returns to Discovery Green September 25. Enjoy live outdoor music each Thursday, 6:30 pm, at Houston’s downtown park, Discovery Green. Sounds Like Houston! Thursday Concert Series showcases the best musicians of Texas and the Gulf Coast.  Here’s the lineup:

September 25 – Paul Thorn + Craig Kinsey
October 2 – Wild Moccasins and Buxton
October 9 – The Jones Family Singers + Milton Hopkins
October 16 - Rodney Crowell + Grand Old Grizzly
October 23 — T-bird and the Breaks + Mikey and the Drags

Blankets, lawn chairs, and picnics are welcome. Food, beer, and wine are available for purchase at The Lakehouse. No glass or outside alcohol. Discovery Green is located downtown at 1500 McKinney.

photo: Christine Tremoulet

7 Free Things to Do in Houston September 22-26

There’s never a dull moment in Houston. Here are 7 options for free fun in Houston September 22-26 before planning your free and cheap weekend!

We Love Houston sign

Tuesday (9/23) — Don’t miss the special presentation of History in Print’s author series on the Astrodome. This special lecture features James Gast, author of The Astrodome: Building an American Spectacle, which is the result of two years of interviews and research. Author meet and greet begins at 6 pm with the presentation at 6:30 pm. Free admission for Preservation Houston and The Heritage Society members. $5 for non-members. Located at St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, 5501 Main Street.

Tuesday (9/23) — Engage in the Opening Reception of a special exhibit, Stories of a Workforce: Celebrating the Centennial of the Houston Ship Channel. The reception is 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm at the Julia Ideson Building Tudor Gallery, 550 McKinney. This exhibit will be on display through January 30, 2015.

Wednesday (9/24) — It’s an interactive blast of excitement at Swing, Jive, Pop into Dance as the free program explores fashion, music, history and the arts through the decades. 11 am at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 6000 Hermann Park Drive.

Wednesday (9/24) — City Hall Farmers Market returns downtown every Wednesday this fall from 11 am – 1:30 pm. Enjoy live music, chef demos, local produce, and healthy lunch options. Located at 500 McKinney.

Wednesday (9/25) — Get fit with the free weekly Zumba class outdoors at Discovery Green. No pre-registration is required. Class is from 6:30 pm – 7:30 pm each Wednesday. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Thursday (9/25) — Houston Grand Opera presents a Childrens-to-Go version of Cinderella in Spain Thursday and Friday mornings, 11 am, at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The free performance is a bilingual opera experience that will engage and entertain children. This repeats again Friday morning (9/26) at 11 am.

Thursday (9/25) — The Thursday concert series, Sounds Like Houston, kicks off this week at Discovery Green. This week’s performers include Craig Kinsey and Paul Thorn. Live outdoor music on the green from 6:30 pm – 10 pm. Located at 1500 McKinney.

Free Weekend Fun in Houston September 19-21

It’s another weekend in Houston with plenty of free fun! Check out these 16 Free Things to Do in Houston September 19-21:

Houston skyline

FRIDAY

Watch movies under the moonCancelled due to weather. Watch Caddyshack on the outdoor screen at downtown’s Market Square Park. Market Square Park is located at 301 Milam.

Salsa on your feet — It’s dubbed Houston’s largest outdoor salsa event! Get ready for a Latin party at La Fiesta del Barrio beginning at 7:30 pm at Miller Outdoor Theatre. The free event features amazing dance and musical talent. This event is RAIN or SHINE! Free reserved seats are available on performance day at the Miller Box Office, 10:30 am – 1 pm.

Watch the batsFamily Bat Chat returns Friday at the platform at Waugh Drive and Allen Parkway. Arrive 30 minutes before sunset to hear a brief presentation on Waugh Bridge Bat Colony. Free public parking at Spotts Park, 401 S. Heights Blvd. at Memorial. This is held the 1st and 3rd Fridays.

Enjoy family fun — Don’t miss Third Friday Family Fun Night in Kingwood Friday, 7 pm – 10 pm at Kings Harbor. Enjoy live music from Extraordinary Entertainment DJs and family fun. Located at 1660 West Lake Houston Parkway in Kingwood.

Learn to salsa dance — Enjoy free salsa dance lessons at Latin Beats every Friday night at the Downtown Aquarium. From 7 pm – 11 pm you can learn salsa dancing from professional dance instructors. The Aquarium is located at 410 Bagby at Memorial.

SATURDAY 

Take a pontoon boat tour — It’s a special day of Pontoon Boat Tours Saturday, at Jesse H. Jones Park and Nature Center. These will be throughout the day, but reservations are required. Located in Humble at 20634 Kenswick.

Play outdoorsNFL Play 360 returns to Central Green Park Saturday, 8:30 am – 10:30 am. The event encourages outdoor play. Coaches will run the kids through football drills and teach about healthy lifestyles. Located at 23501 Cinco Ranch Blvd in Katy.

Engage in writing — Saturday mornings features the Young Writers Workshop each week at Discovery Green. This is a free event, thanks to partners Writers in the Schools, HPL Express, and Discovery Green. It’s from 10:30 am – 11:30 am each week.

Watch chefs and learn about disaster preparedness — Imagine Houston’s celebrity chefs cooking on camp stoves outdoors at Market Square Park! It’s all part of the Ready Houston Preparedness Kit Chef’s Challenge Saturday, September 20, 11 am – 12:30 pm, to raise awareness for disaster preparedness. The first 50 people will receive a free Ready Houston picnic blanket! Located at 301 Milam.

Get outside for fun — It’s Nickelodeon’s World Wide Day of Play Saturday in Deer Park. The free family event features geocaching, inflatables, water balloon toss, face painting, music, pool races and more! The fun starts at noon. Located at Dow Park.

Learn about acting — Free Youth Acting Workshops are available Saturdays in partnership with Black Box Theatre and Houston Public Library. Registration is required. This is geared for kids ages 7-17. More dates October 11 and November 8. Located at 500 McKinney.

Learn about safety -- Get educated at the Community Safety Expo in The Woodlands Saturday, noon – 3 pm. Kids will love trying on safety gear, face painting, bounce houses, live K9 demonstrations, crafts, and McGruff the Crime Dog. Located at The Woodlands Township.

Watch an outdoor musical – Don’t miss this Broadway-style musical, Kung Fu Hero, with amazing songs, colorful costumes, martial arts, and challenging choreography. The show is performed in Mandarin and English. Located at Miller Outdoor Theatre, 8 pm.

Enjoy live music at Waterway Square — The Live at Night Waterway Music Series picks up again Saturdays this fall through October 11 in The Woodlands, 6 pm – 8 pm. The September 20 performance features Legacy.

Watch free outdoor movies — Kids will love watching Monsters University on the jumbo movie screen at Pearland Town Square. Movie begins at 8 pm.

SUNDAY

Enjoy new Woodlands Symphony — Sunday marks the return of the Woodlands Symphony Orchestra in a free performance 6 pm. It’s scheduled during Arts in the Park, 3 pm – 7 pm, which features other performers including Let Them Drum, and Bob Price and Jazz Connection. The evening ends with an encore performance of Hey Jude where audience members can play their own instruments with the orchestra! Located at Rob Fleming Park in The Woodlands.

Enjoy live music — Enjoy a new fall Concert in the Park series in The Woodlands each weekend through October, 5:30 pm – 7:30 pm. Sunday, September 21, features Black Dog, a Led Zeppelin tribute band. Don’t miss this week’s Family Chalk Competition, with free chalk provided! The masterpieces will be judged during intermission at 6:30 pm. Located at Northshore Park in Panther Creek in The Woodlands.