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Fabulous festivals of April

Bluebonnet Festival parade in Burnet Texas

The 41st annual Bluebonnet Festival in April 11-14 in Burnet. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

April is the apex of festival season in the Highland Lakes, where Burnet revels in bluebonnets, Llano chows down on crawfish, and Marble Falls paints the town every color of the rainbow. 

Enjoy a carnival, live music, parades, vendors, and more at the 41st annual Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet from April 12-14. Eat your fill of mudbugs at the 34th annual Llano Crawfish Open on April 19 and 20; and get inspired at the 17th annual Paint the Town Art Festival in Marble Falls from April 21-27. 

Mark your calendars!

BLUEBONNET FESTIVAL

April 12-14 in downtown Burnet and other locations

The Mighty Thomas Carnival returns to Burnet on April 11-14 for the 2024 Bluebonnet Festival. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Around 35,000 people flock to Burnet during the second weekend of April to enjoy the small-town charm of the Bluebonnet Festival.

The schedule features a carnival, live music by Texas country artist Kolby Cooper and others, parades (including one for pets), a demolition derby, a car show, wiener dog races, and historical re-enactments.

But that’s just scratching the surface. 

THURSDAY, APRIL 11

  • 5-10 p.m. — The Mighty Thomas Carnival kicks off the fun with Family Night at the corner of Boundary and League streets.

FRIDAY, APRIL 12

  • 6 a.m.-1 p.m. — Fuel up for the festival’s first full day on all-you-can-eat pancakes served by the Burnet Kiwanis Club at the Masonic Lodge, 311 S. Main St.
  • 2-5 p.m. — Learn about native birds during the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society show at the Herman Brown Free Library, 100 E. Washington St. 
  • 3-8 p.m. — Shop arts and crafts vendors on the courthouse square and Jackson Street. The East Jackson Street food court (3-9 p.m.) and the XLR8 & Co. Biergarten (3-8 p.m.) also will be open for business.
  • 4-11 p.m. — The Mighty Thomas Carnival returns for a second day.
  • 5:30-6 p.m. — Opening ceremonies at the Main Stage on the square make it all official. The Highland Lakes Squadron of the Commemorative Air Force will conduct a flyover.
  • 5:45-6:30 p.m. — Furry friends get into the fun during the Luedecke Photography Pet Parade around the square. Signup is 5-5:30 p.m. in front of the Herman Brown Free Library.
  • 6-10 p.m. — Live music starts with All Hat No Cadillac on the Jackson Street Stage and ends with a street dance and a Dysfunkshun Junkshun performance on the Main Stage.

SATURDAY, APRIL 13

  • 8-9:30 a.m. — Fun runs start at 8 a.m. from the Main Stage with a kids’ 1K and continue at 8:15 a.m. with the YMCA of the Highland Lakes 5K, 10K, and Senior 2K.
  • 9 a.m.-2 p.m. — Look under the hood of classic cars and hot rods at the Lake Area Rods and Classics car show at Hamilton Creek Park.
  • 9 a.m.-3 p.m. — Compete in a 42 dominoes tournament at the rodeo grounds on Houston Clinton Drive.
  • 9 a.m.-4 p.m. — Learn about native birds during the Highland Lakes Birding and Wildflower Society show at the Herman Brown Free Library. 
  • 9 a.m.-6 p.m. — Shop arts and crafts vendors on the square and Jackson Street.
  • 9 a.m.-11 p.m. — Get some grub at the Jackson Street food court.
  • 10-10:30 a.m. — Children can enjoy a fun run and games courtesy of Katrina’s Cocoon Crew, a nonprofit that brings smiles to kids battling cancer.
  • 10 a.m.-8 p.m. — Refresh yourself at the XLR8 & Co. Biergarten on Jackson Street.
  • 10:30-11 a.m. — A kids’ bicycle-decorating contest takes place on the north side of the square. Hosted by the Hill Country Children’s Advocacy Center.
  • 11-11:30 a.m. — Catch a performance from the Studio 29 Dance Center on the Main Stage.
  • 11 a.m.-11 p.m. — The Mighty Thomas Carnival runs for a third day.
  • Noon to 1 p.m. — The grand parade circles the square.
  • Noon to 8 p.m. — Head down East Jackson Street for midday refreshments at the festival’s cocktail bar.
  • 1-11 p.m. — Live music by various acts at the Jackson Street and Main stages culminates with opener Braedon Barnhill (8:15 p.m.) and headliner Kolby Cooper (9:45 p.m.)
  • 2-5 p.m. — Compete in the YMCA cornhole tournament at Bill’s Burgers.
  • 2:15-2:45 p.m. — Witness a Wild West shootout during a Burnet Gunfighters performance at the Jackson Street train tracks. The group has another show at 3:30 p.m.
  • 2:30-3 p.m. — Enjoy a performance of the Clickety Cloggers Dance Club at the Main Stage.
  • 5:30-7:30 p.m. — The demolition derby smashes into the fairgrounds on Houston Clinton Drive.

SUNDAY, APRIL 14

  • 9-11 a.m. — Attend a contemporary praise and worship service at the Main Stage.
  • 11 a.m.-4 p.m. — Shop arts and crafts vendors and sample the Jackson Street food court. 
  • 11:30 a.m.-3 p.m. —The Four Wisemen and Allen Ray perform on the Main and Jackson Street stages.
  • Noon to 6 p.m. — Last chance to enjoy the rides at the Mighty Thomas Carnival.
  • 1-3 p.m. — Watch as Dachshunds dash for first place in front of the Main Stage during the Gary Wideman State Farm Insurance annual Wiener Dog Race.

WHAT’S FREE: Browsing vendors and classic cars and watching demonstrations, the Burnet Gunfighters, parades, and most of the live music.

WHAT COSTS: The carnival, demolition derby, pancake breakfast, tournament and parade entries, and the Saturday night concert. 

FOR MORE: The festival is a Burnet Chamber of Commerce event. Visit bluebonnetfestival.org.

LLANO CRAWFISH OPEN

April 19-20 at Robinson City Park, 1 mile west of Llano on FM 152 

Spicy mudbugs are the main attraction at the Llano Crawfish Open. Photo by Martelle Luedecke/Luedecke Photography

Country artists Rodney Atkins and Matt Stell headline the 2024 Llano Crawfish Open, an over 30-year-old festival known for its Cajun fixings. 

Admission is free on Friday until 6 p.m. and $30 after. On Saturday, it’s $15 until 6 p.m. and $30 after. The event takes place rain or shine and raises money for Llano charities.

Enjoy live music and dancing all day Friday and Saturday with Atkins headlining on Friday night, and Stell ending the Saturday performances.

Folks can enjoy a wide assortment of Cajun staples, including boiled crawfish and jambalaya with potatoes, and corn on both days. Barbecue is also on the menu.

Returning for the second year is the gumbo cook-off. Entry is $50 for at least four gallons of gumbo and cooked rice. Prizes will go to first and second places as well as People’s Choice in two categories: high school competition teams and other teams. The application and rules are online. If you just want to eat gumbo, tickets are $2 a sample or $4 a cup. Taste them all before casting your vote for People’s Choice.

Shop the arts and crafts vendors all day both days and participate in an auction each night at 8:45 p.m. Children’s activities will keep youngsters entertained.

Sporty attendees can compete in golf or cornhole tournaments as well as team roping. A motorcycle fun run is Saturday.

No ice chests or pets are allowed.

FOR MORE: Visit llanocrawfishopen.org.

PAINT THE TOWN

April 21-27 across Marble Falls

Artists set up their easels across Marble Falls in late April for the Paint the Town Arts Festival. Staff photo

Plein air artists set up their easels around the city during this weeklong outdoor painting competition. Watch them work, try your own creative hand in a Quick Draw Challenge, and shop for fine art.

With a pop-up gallery, live plein air painting, free demonstrations, and a student art day in downtown Marble Falls, the 17th annual Paint the Town promises to be a hit for art aficionados and amateurs alike.

Austin-based artist and plein air expert Richie Vios will be the judge for this year’s competition. He won Paint the Town in 2022.

APRIL 23

Plein air contestants hit the streets of Marble Falls to begin painting. The public is invited to watch as the artists capture their impressions of the city on canvas.

APRIL 24

Young artists from Marble Falls High School and Faith Academy of Marble Falls meet in Lakeside Park, 305 Buena Vista Drive, for their own plein air painting demonstration and competition.

APRIL 25-27

Admission is free to a pop-up gallery at Lakeside Pavilion, 307 Buena Vista Drive, which showcases all the works created by artists during Paint the Town. Guests who fall in love with a particular piece will have the chance to purchase it. 

APRIL 27

  • 10-11:30 a.m. — Race against time during Paint the Town’s annual Quick Draw Challenge, which pits artists against each other in a 90-minute outdoor painting contest. The event is free for registered Paint the Town competition artists and student artists. Admission is $15 for the general public.
  • 11 a.m.-5 p.m. — Free Family Art Day at Lakeside Pavilion. Demonstrations include working in watercolor, acrylic, finger painting, and bubble painting.

FOR MORE: Visit hlcarts.com/paint-the-town-festival.

nathan@thepicayune.com