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Feast of fests

Profile image for By Lucinda Breeding
By Lucinda Breeding
Fans in the grandstands cheer for the coffin races at Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival last year.David Minton
Fans in the grandstands cheer for the coffin races at Denton’s Day of the Dead Festival last year.
David Minton

This weekend, it begins.

Fall festival season is upon us. The season promises more music than one fan get to, but it also offers free family fun and outdoor temperatures that are generally bearable — if not rainy.

Most of Denton’s fall festivals require nothing but comfortable shoes, a little cash for concessions (more if you’re interested in that festival T-shirt. More still if your heart is set on a hoodie).

So if you’re ready, get that calendar out and plan your life for the next four months.

Denton Blues Festival

Friday through Sunday

Quakertown Park, 321 E. McKinney St.


Denton Blues Festival grooves its way into Quakertown Park for the 18th year. The free family festival starts on Friday night with a karaoke concert. Community stages bring talent of all ages into the limelight, and headliners take the stage in the afternoon.

This year, headliner Selwyn Birchwood, a rising young blues artist from Florida, will play guitar and lap steel on the main stage. Birchwood fuses the energy and styling of gospel music and peppers it with a little funk and a lot of blues. His debut album, Don’t Call No Ambulance, was produced by the mainstay blues label Alligator Records. His sound is reminiscent of 80-year-old legend Buddy Guy (who has played Quakertown Park himself).

Also up this weekend on the main stage: blues artist Buddy Whittington on Saturday, and Mike Babb Blues Band with Paul Byrd and Zac Harmon on Sunday.

There’s enough room to spread out your blankets and chairs at Blues Festival, but it’s not so crowded that fans have to camp out if they want to see the headliners. Also: bounce houses, face painting, arts and crafts will be on hand for children.


Sept. 22-24

Downtown Denton venues and stages

$300 for three-day VIP packages, $85 for three-day passes, $50 single day passes (Saturday only available) and for Petty Fest tickets. Kids ages 10 and under get in for free. For reservations, visit

The three-day music fest is second only to Denton Arts & Jazz Festival in scope. With A-list headliners (Norah Jones, Rae Sremund, Dr. Dog, Best Coast and more) and a deck stacked with local bands and solo artists. And if you’ve got a hankering for a palate cleanser between music showcases, the festival has Joketopia for you. E. Third, a local booking company that primarily produces comedy sets in alt-venues around town, will host the comedy set from 10:30 p.m. to midnight Sept. 23 at the Campus Theatre.

Oaktopia has pulled in young music fans — and not-so-young fans — by putting hip-hop on the headlining schedule (as did 35 Denton when it was a bigger beast), but organizers haven’t skimped on indie rock, singer-songwriter music, neo-soul and experimental art rock. It’s a full-service festival with the admission price to reflect it, but once on the festival grounds, there are plenty of art-centered things for families to do. But make a note that should you bring young children, you won’t be able to take them into every venue.

Greenfest on the Greenbelt

10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sept. 24

The Elm Fork of the Trinity River Greenbelt Park, south of Ray Roberts Lake Dam

$10 for adults, free for ages 3 and under

Have a yen to get outside and move? GreenFest is for you. The event is all about being outdoors. It starts with a couple of pre-festival activities, GreenFest 5K/10K and 1-mile Fun Run at 8:30 a.m. and the Equestrian Trail Sports Field Obstacle Challenge starts at 9 a.m.

Once the festival starts at 10 a.m., families can choose from a smorgasbord of activities. Water lovers can go kayaking, paddleboarding and fishing and casting clinics. On land, attendees can take a crack at the rock climbing wall and archery. For the National Geographic buffs, there is Critterman’s Native Animal Ambassadors, who educate attendees about the wildlife in their community (say coyotes and bobcats) and exhibits and talks at the Blackland Prairie Raptor Center.

Proceeds from the event will benefit the Greenbelt Alliance, a nonprofit organization dedicated to the preservation of the Ray Roberts Lake Greenbelt wilderness corridor. For more information, visit

Dog Days of Denton

9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Oct. 1

North Texas Fairgrounds, 2217 N. Carroll Blvd.


This festival has been copied by communities all over the country. Dog Days of Denton is pretty much a big party for people and their dogs.

The family event has all sorts of contests for local dogs — weenie eating contests, obedience courses, curliest tail and longest ear contests — and exhibitions by extraordinary human-and-dog teams. And if you’re the sort who likes to shop for man’s best friend, there are vendors at the festival every year. Dog owners can pick up a new collar, harness and leash, shop for dog clothes and peruse tables of dog treats.

For the competitive sort: Dog Days of Denton includes the annual Spokesdog contest. The winner will be the fuzzy face of the 2017 fest.

Attendees should keep their dogs on a leash, and all dogs should wear their vaccination and registration tags. For more information, visit

Denton’s Day of the Dead

11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Oct. 29

Downtown Denton at Industrial and East Hickory streets


For the last six years, Denton’s Day of the Dead has celebrated the coming of fall, the cultural traditions of the Fall in the Southwest (especially the harvest, Halloween and the Mexican celebration of Dia de los Muertos) and the nights getting longer. After starting as an original Halloween musical staged at Dan’s Silverleaf in 2009, Cirque du Horror has grown to add a fully fledged street festival with food, drink and revelry.

Parents can bring their children to the pumpkin patch, where handmade carnival games are a sweet, whimsical throwback — with prizes, of course, and a bounce house. Vendors line Industrial and East Hickory, selling everything from clothes to face painting and food.

The most popular part of the festival is the afternoon coffin races. Think soapbox derby cars styled by hand to look like tricked-out coffins. The raceway is always mobbed with spectators, and seating in the bleachers goes faster than a craft beer in a Denton bar.

Adventurous eaters can sample the city’s best homemade salsas — some are about as hot as a funeral pyre (see what we did there?). For $5, patrons can taste all of the salsas. For $10, home cooks can enter their recipe. Winners are announced at 5:45 p.m.

As the sun sets, a twilight lantern and costume parade begins, then ends at the main stage on Industrial Street just in time for the final band to strike up their set.

The festival has added some new elements to the event this year: a haunted house, and a mass sparkler lighting at the end of the parade. For more information, visit or check out


Thursday, Sept. 22

Travelstead Stage

7 p.m. — Texas Music Project

7:30 p.m. — Greater Denton Arts Council Presents: A Hero for the Arts

8 p.m. — Petty Fest: A Night Celebrating the Music of Tom Petty

Andy’s Bar

122 N. Locust St.

7:30 p.m. — Fust

8 p.m. — Grey Matters

8:25 p.m. — Muenster MC

8:55 p.m. — D-Mar

9:25 p.m. — Character

9:55 p.m. — Ritchy Flo

10:25 p.m. — Ghetto[Box]

11 p.m. — Band Nerds

11:45 p.m. -Alsace Carcione

12:30 p.m. — Fab Deuce & Rec League

The Bearded Monk

122 E. McKinney St.

8 p.m. — Marathons & Unicorns

9 p.m. — Hen and the Cocks

10 p.m. — Panic Volcano

Campus Theatre

214 E. Hickory St.

11 p.m. — Purple Rain: A Special Screening

Courthouse Lawn

110 W. Hickory St.

8 p.m. — Glow yoga with Karma Yoga

Dan’s Silverleaf

103 Industrial

7:30 p.m. — Fishboy

8:30 p.m. — Cozy Hawks

9:30 p.m. — Criminal Birds

10:30 p.m. — Black James Franco

11:30 p.m. — Biographies

LSA Burger Co.

113 W. Hickory St.

5 to 7 p.m. — Texas Gentlemen

Oak Street Drafthouse

& Cocktail Parlor

308 E. Oak St.

4 to 10 p.m. — Food Truck Festival

Patterson-Appleton Arts Center

400 E. Hickory St.

9 p.m. — Relick

10 p.m. — Tele Novella

11 p.m. — Jessie Frye

Friday, Sept. 23

Travelstead Stage

4 p.m. — White Denim

6 p.m. — Wavves

8 p.m. — Cat Power

10 p.m. — Norah Jones

West Stage

3 p.m. — St. Beauty

5 p.m. — Nikki Lane

7 p.m. — Dr. Dog

9 p.m. — Beirut

Andy’s Bar

122 N. Locust St.

7:30 p.m. — Felt + Fur

8:30 p.m. — Mink Coats

9:30 p.m. — Summer Salt

10:30 p.m. — Pearl Earl

11:30 p.m. — Dome Dwellers

The Bearded Monk

122 E. McKinney St.

7:30 p.m. — Strange Persona

8:30 p.m. — Fun Button

9:30 p.m. — Animal Spirit

10:30 p.m. — Moon Waves

Campus Theatre

214 E. Hickory St.

5 p.m. — Granatum: Short Film Screenings

8 p.m. — Denton Black Film Festival Showcase

10:30 p.m. — Joketopia: Stand-up Comedy by E. Third

Courthouse Lawn

110 W. Hickory St.

6 p.m. — Off World

8 p.m. — Sol Kitchen

Dan’s Silverleaf

103 Industrial

6:30 p.m. — The Candles

7:30 p.m. — Goodnight Ned

8:30 p.m. — Exit Glaciers

9:30 p.m. — The Hope Trust

10:30 p.m. — The Whigs

11:30 p.m. — Robert Ellis


218 W. Oak St

7 p.m. — Cheridan

7:30 p.m. — Wild Bill

8 p.m. — Alex the Pharoah

8:25 p.m. — Meditation Mafia

8:55 p.m. — J3’s Journal & L’il Dirt

9:25 p.m. — L’il Xanni

10 p.m. — The Bishops

10:45 p.m. — 88 Killa

11:20 p.m. — Elijah Heaps & Nikola Rya (Genuine)

midnight — -Topic & Koolquize

12:45 a.m. — AV the Great

LSA Burger Co.

113 W. Hickory St.

5 p.m. — Octahedron

7 p.m. — Richard Gilbert

9 p.m. — Levi Cobb & the Big Smoke

Patterson-Appleton Arts Center

400 E. Hickory St.

8 p.m. — In the Light: A New Interactive Media Experience

8:30 p.m. — Kind Beats

9 p.m. — Scal

11 p.m. — The Root: Alternative Fashion Showcase

11:30 p.m. — Boston Cassidy

12:30 p.m. — Dezi 5

West Oak Coffee Bar

114 W. Oak St.

9 p.m. — Jacob Metcalf

10 p.m. — (Caruvana)

Saturday, Sept. 24

Travelstead Stage

2 p.m. — Amasa Hines

4 p.m. — Lee Fields and the Expressions

6 p.m. — DJ Low Down Loretta Brown

8 p.m. — DT Genasis

10 p.m. — Rae Sremmurd

West Stage

1 p.m. — Grandpa vs. Prowler

3 p.m. — Mates of State

5 p.m. — Andrew WK

7 p.m. — Pete Yorn

9 p.m. — Best Coast

Andy’s Bar

122 N. Locust St.

7 p.m. — Azuline

8 p.m. — Idler

9 p.m. — The Infamists

10 p.m. — Orcanaut

11 p.m. — Monogamizer

midnight — I Am Man, I Am Monster

The Bearded Monk

122 E. McKinney St.

7:30 p.m. — Jared & the Jewelers

8:30 p.m. — Mountain Song

9:30 p.m. — Kites and Boomerangs

10:30 p.m. — The Southpaw Preachers

11:30 p.m. — The Boombachs

The Campus Theatre

214 W. Hickory St.

noon to midnight — Let’s Play! Gaming Tournament

Courthouse Lawn

110 W. Hickory St.

11 a.m. — Karma Yoga drum jam with 7Feathers

1 p.m. — Phi Gamma Stompowt

7 p.m. — Field Division

9 p.m. — Riders Against the Storm

Dan’s Silverleaf

103 Industrial

4:30 p.m. — Marnie Herald

5:30 p.m. — Shelly Colvin

6:30 p.m. — Big Thief

7:30 p.m. — Nicole Atkins

8:30 p.m. — Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae

9:30 p.m. — Jonathan Tyler

10:30 p.m. — Butch Walker


218 W. Oak St

8 p.m. — Lofty

9 p.m. — Hella Zealous

10 p.m. — Ruok

11 p.m. — Count Nebula

LSA Burger Co

113 W. Hickory St.

4 p.m. — Jenna Clark

5 p.m. — Kim Nall & the Fringe

6 p.m. — The Monkberries

8 p.m. — Robert Cody Maxwell

10 p.m. — Soul Patrol

Patterson-Appleton Arts Center

400 E. Hickory St.

10 a.m. to 1 p.m. — Industry Panels

9:30 p.m. — Siamese

10:30 p.m. — Dark Rooms

11:59 p.m. — Sky Window


231 W. Hickory St.

9 p.m. — Squanto

9:30 p.m. — Vogue Machine

10 p.m. — Hempwig

10:30 p.m. — Sunbuzzed

11:30 p.m. — Mother Tongues

12:30 a.m. — Heavy Baby Sea Slugs

West Oak Coffee Bar

114 W. Oak St.

9 p.m. — Horace Bray

10 p.m. — Leoncarlo