Fun is always in season in Dallas-Fort Worth. Nearly every weekend, there's a chance to get out and experience North Texas' entertainment, neighborhoods and diversity. We've rounded up some big fun to mark on your calendar for every month, every year.
For detailed information on dates and addresses of each event, click on the links at the end of each blurb.
Day 1 Dallas
Families celebrate the first day of the new year in Fair Park with kid-friendly activities such as zip-lining and sledding, live music, food trucks and a fireworks show. Proceeds benefit the homeless children and families served by Vogel Alcove. day1dallas.com.
Fort Worth Stock Show & Rodeo
Daily rodeos are a big part of this show that's more than a century old. But wait, there's more: carnival midway, shopping, kid-friendly attractions and live country music. The opening weekend parade in downtown Fort Worth features horses, wagons and riders -- but no motorized vehicles. fwssr.com.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day Parade
The civil rights leader is remembered at more than a dozen observances in North Texas. This parade featuring bands, floats, churches and community and civic groups travels through South Dallas to Fair Park and is followed by a celebration at the MLK Community Center. dallasmlkcenter.com.
Monster trucks with colorful paint jobs and even more colorful names soar over and smash through a custom obstacle course on the field at AT&T Stadium. This event is fun for families, but consider taking earplugs for your littlest truck fans. monsterjam.com.
Mardi Gras Oak Cliff Parade
Catch some beads when this family-friendly parade celebrating Fat Tuesday winds through the Bishop Arts District. The weekend's activities also include the OCarnivale Masquerade Ball at the Kessler Theater and Dash for the Beads, a charity 5K and 1-mile walk. mardigrasoakcliff.com.
The Dallas Arboretum's floral festival features more than 500,000 spring-blooming bulbs that include tulips and daffodils. There are lots of associated activities for all ages, including the picnic-perfect nighttime concert series called Cool Thursdays. dallasarboretum.org.
Dallas St. Patrick's Parade and Festival
More than 125,000 green-clad revelers will pack the 2-mile parade route, which runs south on Greenville Avenue from Blackwell Street to SMU Boulevard. The parade ends around lunchtime but the party continues till last call at block parties, concerts and nearby bars and restaurants. dallasstpatricksparade.com.
DFW Auto Show
Browse, compare and test drive a lineup of new and redesigned vehicles at this more than three-decades-running event that boasts more than half a million square feet of new cars, trucks and SUVs. Expect ride and drive opportunities, a kids' zone, live music and celebrity appearances. dfwautoshow.com.
Fan Expo Dallas
Big-name actors and artists such as Star Wars' Mark Hamill draw big crowds for panels and photo and autograph sessions, but there's plenty to do for those who opt not to pay big bucks to meet big stars. The very large expo hall includes movie-prop quality photo opps, shopping booths of comic books and memorabilia, and great people-watching as many fans come dressed in elaborate costumes. fanexpodallas.com.
Easter in Lee Park and Pooch Parade
This Dallas tradition features dressed-up pups and people in the Pooch Parade, an Easter egg hunt, a visit from the Easter Bunny and chances to picnic in Uptown's lush Lee Park. leeparkconservancy.org.
Dozens of restaurants and chefs participate in this food, wine and spirits festival that takes place at venues near downtown Dallas. The epicurean centerpiece of the fest is the Grand Tasting, which features literally hundreds of wines to taste. The fest is put on by CrowdSource, a company owned and operated by The Dallas Morning News, so we're partial to this one. savordallas.com.
Deep Ellum Arts Festival
Celebrate the fun and funky neighborhood at this free fest featuring hundreds of artists, more than a hundred bands playing original music and a Sunday pet parade. The fest is also a good chance to check out the latest wave of restaurants, bars and shops to open in this ever-changing entertainment district. deepellumartsfestival.com.
Dallas Cinco de Mayo
Celebrate Mexican heritage with a parade and a fiesta on Jefferson Boulevard in Oak Cliff. There will be colorful floats, performances by ballet folklorico and mariachi groups, food trucks and a car show. oakcliffarts.org.
Enjoy a wide variety of performances and authentic food during this celebration of Asian cultures at Dallas' Fair Park. A series of pavilions will highlight countries represented at the fest. gdaacc.com.
Wildflower Arts and Music Festival
This eclectic celebration in Richardson's Galatyn Park features half a dozen stages of continuous music with classic and up-and-coming bands. In addition to music, there are kid-focused activities, artists and other vendors and a beer garden with lawn games. wildflowerfestival.com.
Taste of Dallas
This two-day food festival at Fair Park features dozens of restaurants selling small bites for $2-$5, a marketplace with shopping and sampling, and Live Fire, a new curated selection of burgers, barbecue and beer. The weekend kicks off Friday night at Gilley's with Foodie Experience, which includes tastings from more than 50 restaurants. tasteofdallas.org.
Best Southwest Juneteenth Celebration
Cedar Hill, DeSoto, Duncanville and Lancaster host this festival celebrating Juneteenth, which commemorates June 19, 1865, the day slaves in Texas learned that Abraham Lincoln had signed the Emancipation Proclamation more than two years earlier. The fest includes live music, food, arts, crafts and more. ci.desoto.tx.us/282/Special-Ev
Reunion Lawn Party
This free, kid-friendly festival held in the shadow of downtown Dallas' Reunion Tower features live music, local craft beer, food trucks and lawn games. The party continues the last Saturday of July and August. reunionlawnparty.com.
Addison Kaboom Town
This July 3 fireworks display brings about 500,000 people to Addison to ooh and aah at the free 30-minute show. The big event is at Addison Circle Park where there will be live music, an airshow and more, but nearby bars, restaurants and hotels get in on the action with watch parties. addisonkaboomtown.com.
Fair Park Fourth
A big fireworks finale tops off an all-day Fourth of July celebration with live music, fountain shows at the Esplanade, and rides, games and concessions on the State Fair of Texas midway. Fireworks can be viewed from inside the Cotton Bowl or from various spots throughout Fair Park. fairpark.org.
Bastille Days Dallas
This French-themed festival, which celebrates the storming of the Bastille prison, an important event in the French revolution, features available-for-purchase food and drink (including wine and crepes) and entertainment. The fête returns to the Bishop Arts District on Bastille Day and also expands into Oak Cliff. bastilledallas.com.
DFW Restaurant Week
More than 125 restaurants will offer three-course, fixed-price dinners for $39 or $49 per person Aug. 7-13, plus some will offer lunch for $20, participate in a preview event Aug. 4-6 and extend their offerings through Aug. 20 or Aug. 27. For each meal purchased, 20 percent of the price will be donated to either the North Texas Food Bank or Lena Pope in Fort Worth. This month of charitable dining starts with the DFW Restaurant Week Kick Off Festival on Aug. 3. dfwrestaurantweek.com.
North Texas Fair and Rodeo
Hear concerts from big-name country musicians, check out livestock exhibitions and sit on the edge of your seat during rodeo events at this annual fair in Denton. On the first Saturday, the rodeo parade will circle Denton's courthouse square. ntfair.com.
The biggest draw of this video game convention is the Bring Your Own Computer (BYOC) area where thousands of attendees camp out with their PC gaming rigs and have a giant, days-long party. For those not that hard-core, the free admission to QuakeCon's show floor allows access to play some unreleased games, see panels and presentations and watch some exciting tournaments. quakecon.org.
This German tradition is alive and well in North Texas with celebrations happening from Fort Worth to McKinney. One of the biggest events is at Addison Circle Park, where thousands gather to enjoy authentic food and beer, live music, performances by Alpine dancers and dachshund races, all located in and around a massive Munich-style beer tent. addisonoktoberfest.com.
Plano Balloon Festival
Dozens of colorful hot-air balloons launch several times over the three-day event, and some will be inflated and tethered on the festival grounds for balloon glows at night. The fest also includes sky divers, fireworks, concerts and children's attractions. planoballoonfest.org.
State Fair of Texas
The 24-day lineup includes 75 bands, more than 70 rides, an auto show with 400 of the latest new-car models, livestock competitions, animal races, three football games, one butter sculpture and of course the wacky fried-food selections competing in the Big Tex Choice Awards. On opening day, a parade with floats, bands and other State Fair participants rolls through downtown Dallas. bigtex.com.
Every year for more than 100 years, the Texas Longhorns and Oklahoma Sooners -- one of the greatest rivalries in all of college football -- have competed on the neutral grounds of the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. Caravans of fans from both sides of the Red River come to Dallas for days of tailgating, pep rallies, parties and other spirited events. Join in wherever you spot hordes of burnt orange and/or crimson.
Park & Palate
The two-day foodie fest returns to Klyde Warren Park with events and tastings that showcase the Lone Star State's top chefs and notable beer, wine and spirits from both our backyard and from around the world. Enjoy live music, dining and more, all with a great view of the Dallas skyline. parkandpalate.org.
Oak Lawn Halloween Block Party
This adults-only see-and-be-seen costume party takes place the Saturday before Halloween on Cedar Springs Road among the neighborhood's many gay bars. Walk the cosplay runway, dance to music by deejays or check out some of the local haunts. But don't be caught without a costume, and don't expect parking to be child's play.
Diwali Mela Festival
More than 100,000 people celebrate Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, during this festival at the Cotton Bowl in Fair Park. Activities and entertainment include a laser show, pony rides, fireworks, a kids' corner and more than 100 vendors selling food and merchandise. dfwdiwalimela.com.
NTX Beer Week
This 10-day salute to local and visiting craft breweries includes hundreds of events for area beer lovers such as the signature gala, the Brewer's Ball. New and limited-release brews will be tapped, and parties will be held at dozens of bars, restaurants and taprooms around Dallas-Fort Worth. ntxbeerweek.com.
XTO Energy Parade of Lights
The Sunday before Thanksgiving, Fort Worth helps kick off the Christmas season with this downtown parade featuring hundreds of illuminated floats, 500,000 lights, bands, balloons, antique cars and more. Santa will make his entrance on a specially designed, LED-lighted grand finale float. fortworthparadeoflights.org.
Dallas Children's Health Holiday Parade
Downtown Dallas gets a large dose of holiday spirit when Santa Claus leads this procession that includes festive floats, huge inflatables, costumed characters, special guests, marching bands and other performers. Admission is free or a secure a sweet spot by reserving bleacher seating along the route. dallaschildrensparade.com. [Update on May 30, 2017: Children's Health will no longer host the downtown Dallas Holiday Parade. ] [Update on Oct. 5, 2017: New organizers will be hosting Dallas Holiday Parade.]
Lights All Night
About 40,000 people spend the final days of the year at this two-night electronic music festival that showcases some of the biggest names in the biz. Expect a sensory feast of lasers, light shows, confetti cannons and costumes. lightsallnight.com.
AT&T Streaming Lights at Reunion Tower
The downtown Dallas landmark known as The Ball will again illuminate the night sky in the final moments of the year with a fireworks show featuring more than 4,000 pyrotechnics. Many bars, restaurants and hotels in Trinity Groves, downtown, Uptown and Deep Ellum will join in on the fun and host watch parties. reuniontower.com.
Information compiled by Shannon Sutlief and staff reports