Abilene, TX 79601
7 Annual Events that Will Keep You Coming Back to Abilene, TX
By Hunter Lanier
Looking forward to the next big event is one thing, but it’s even better when that event becomes a staple of the calendar—a yearly escape of good times you can rely on. For just this reason, Abilene hosts a wide variety of annual festivals and events to spark the anticipation of visitors from all over the country. Ready those markers—or, more likely, thumbs—because you’re probably going to want to mark the calendar with at least one of these yearly events in Abilene.
Outlaws + Legends: Making Music on the Porch
Everyone knows music sounds better in the car than anywhere else, but when it comes to the best time to listen to music, it just might be the spring. The Outlaw + Legends music festival takes that idea and runs with it by calling the Back Porch of Texas, one of the state’s premiere outdoor venues, its home.
Outlaws + Legends is the largest one-stage festival in Texas—bringing in roughly 15,000 attendees each year—and won “Festival of the Year” at the Texas Regional Radio Music Awards in 2021 and 2023. Some of the outlaws and legends in question have included Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson. Not a bad group of alumni.
In addition to general admission tickets and VIP tickets, multi-day RV passes are also available. To purchase your tickets to Outlaws + Legends, visit their official website.
Past and Present Meet at the Western Heritage Classic
Ride into the past with the Western Heritage Classic, a three-day event in May that celebrates the wild west like only Texas can. Throw on your ten-gallon chef hat at the Chuckwagon Cookoff or tally up your silver dollars for a shopping spree at the Western Trade Show. But don’t hit the hay until you’ve taken in some Cowboy Poetry Under the Stars.
The Western Heritage Classic’s premiere event is the Ranch Rodeo, where some of the most historic ranches in the U.S. compete in events designed around ranch work. Roping, bronc riding, and wild cow milking are just a few of the competitions that will take place.
To purchase your tickets to the Western Heritage Classic, visit their official website.
Kids Will Love the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival
Every June, Abilene puts on the Children’s Art & Literacy Festival (or CALF, for short). This yearly festival in downtown Abilene was designed to show kids the fun side of literacy and creativity. Among the main attractions is the celebrated National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, which exhibits original art from some of the very best children’s books.
Art isn’t the only focus of the festival, as there are also dramatic readings, children’s workshops, and chances for kids to read to a dog. Yes, you read that right. The festival highlights the animals that are a part of Pet Enhanced Therapy Services (PETS), a program that has dogs visit patients in the hospital. Kids will get to meet the dogs, learn about their mission, and, of course, read them a book.
To purchase your tickets to the Children’s Art and Literacy Festival, visit their official website.
The West Texas Fair and Rodeo Will Rope You In
For over 115 years, the West Texas Fair and Rodeo has been a shining star of cowboy entertainment. Men and women compete to qualify for the PRCA National Finals Rodeo, but they’re going to have to get past some mighty miffed livestock first.
That’s the rodeo part, but what about the fair? You’ll find dozens of breathtaking rides for all ages at Carnival Americana, plus several livestock exhibits, plenty of mouthwatering treats, and more live music than you can shake a tail feather at. Visit the Modern Living Mall to get an up-close look at the creativity of local artists—or, if you’re feeling especially artistic, submit your own work to be on display.
To purchase your tickets to the West Texas Fair and Rodeo, visit their official website.
Hold Your Beer at the Abilene Beer Summit
Beer always tastes better with others, so just imagine how good it tastes in the company of over 2,000 fellow beer lovers. You won’t have to imagine at the Abilene Beer Summit, a craft beer extravaganza with over 125 delicious beers to choose from.
Once you’ve secured a beer for each hand, enjoy them while taking in live music. Or compliment your beer with some hometown cooking. Bring your beer shopping at one of the many local vendors setting up shop at the festival. Bonding with your beer is made easy at the Abilene Beer Summit.
To purchase tickets to the Abilene Beer Summit, visit their official website.
Santa Clause is Coming to the Winter Lightfest
The year may be winding down, but the events keep coming in Abilene. Winter Lightfest will be returning for its fifth consecutive year and once again feature a ¾-mile paved walking path taking you through nearly 3-million Christmas lights.
Along the path will be photo-ops, a scavenger hunt, hot chocolate, s’mores, and you might even run into Santa Clause—a known admirer of Abilene’s Christmas festivities. The event begins in November and runs until the end of December.
To purchase tickets to the Winter Lightfest, visit their official website.
It’s All Happening at the Abilene Zoo
When you talk about annual events in Abilene, it’s impossible not to mention the Abilene Zoo. The zoo has not one, but three big events to look forward to every year.
The first is Wild Days in March, an interactive show that allows guests to get up close and personal with wildlife, as well as meet the zoo’s dedicated Animal Care Specialist. In October, it’s time for Boo at the Zoo. Abilene’s favorite Halloween tradition will include live shows, a hay-bale maze, Pumpkin Chunkin’, fall treats, animal encounters, and more.
Lastly, there’s the annual Christmas Celebration: a holiday escape of ice skating, immersive light displays, a professional ice sculpture show, live nativity scene, and the zoo even welcomes some new animal friends known for pulling a certain sleigh.
To purchase tickets to the Abilene Zoo, visit their official website.
Every Year Brings Big Events in Abilene
There are so many big events happening in Abilene every year, you might just have to move there to visit them all. If you’re not quite up to fitting your favorite couch through the front door, one of the city’s cozy hotels will be more than a sufficient homebase to experience Abilene’s annual music festivals, rodeos, beer summits, and kid-friendly destinations.
About the Author: Hunter Lanier is the head writer and content specialist for Tour Texas. When he isn’t writing about the many great places in the state of Texas, he’s writing books and screenplays. He may or may not own an armadillo in the future.
Abilene, TX 79601