Fall Magic in Marfa, Texas

With a population under 2,000, the rural town of Marfa, Texas is an unlikely destination for tourism. The closest airport is a three-hour drive away. It’s got one stoplight and two grocery stores. Beyond its 1.6 square miles, Marfa is surrounded by rugged mountain ranges and harsh desert landscapes. It’s decidedly isolated from the modern world. 

Yet over the last 20 years, Marfa has risen as an international art mecca uniquely rooted in Southwest culture. A place where blue-chip collectors brush shoulders with cattle ranchers, and historic homesteads give way to an Instagram-famous Prada store.

Eccentric, art-filled and unapologetic, Marfa is now a bucket list stop for curious travelers and die-hard art lovers from around the world. Luckily for guests of The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park, the remote town of Marfa is very much in reach. El Paso is just a three-hour drive away, and the views alone are worth the trip.

For the ultimate introduction to Marfa, Texas, hit the road and head to these annual fall festivals.

Chinati Weekend

In the 1970s, minimalist artist Donald Judd craved an escape from New York City and a home for his large-scale artworks. Enchanted by Marfa’s vast terrain, he purchased 400 acres of property and filled them with art until he died.

Today, Judd’s legacy lives on through his Chinati Foundation, a contemporary art museum that preserves his permanent collection and anchors Marfa’s thriving art scene. While any time of year is great to visit, the museum’s annual Chinati Weekend is a must-do. Taking place October 8-10, 2021, this year’s program includes special exhibitions, brunch, exclusive tours, and an open house dinner complete with ranch fare, mariachis and lots of tequila.

Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love

A live band performing for an audience under string lights at El Cosmico.

Another fall festival favorite? The Trans-Pecos Festival of Music + Love

Happening September 22-26, 2021, this far-out, four-day event is an ultra-hip celebration of Marfa’s live music scene and bohemian lifestyle. The annual event takes place at El Cosmico, a 21-acre nomadic hotel and campground with vintage trailers and safari tents, wood-fired hot tubs, and gorgeous views of the Chihuahuan Desert. In between concert sets, festival-goers can shop artisanal goods, learn a new skill with artist-led workshops, catch a rivalry baseball game, and even get a tattoo. (Maybe do that one before the Trans-Pecos speakeasy…)

Marfa Lights Festival

Since 1883, people have witnessed a mysterious display of dancing lights along Marfa’s southeast horizon. Known as the Marfa Lights, the unexplained phenomena have been described as glowing orbs that dart across the desert, sometimes red, sometimes blue. Others say they’re whimsical movements of white and yellow. 

No one truly knows, but everyone loves to catch a glimpse. Each year over Labor Day weekend, Marfans celebrate their hometown mystery at the Marfa Lights Festival. This year’s event takes place September 3-4, 2021 and marks the festival’s 35th anniversary. Expect three days of family-friendly entertainment, live music and local food vendors, capped off with a festival parade.

A Taste of West Texas

Cocktail at Ámbar Restaurante in The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park.

Hungry for more Southwest culture? After visiting Marfa, head back to El Paso and check in to The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park. Besides its fascinating history, the design-forward hotel has its own impressive collection of local art and historic relics, not to mention the largest agave collection in all of North America! Sip on your choice of 800 spirits and cap off your trip at the hotel’s award-winning restaurant, Ámbar, where menus from Michelin-starred chef Andres Padilla fuse traditional Mexican cuisine with West Texas flavors. 

Marfa, Texas is an exciting day trip (or overnight trip) from The Plaza Hotel Pioneer Park, an award-winning Independent Collection hotel in El Paso, Texas. Book your stay and find out more.