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Festival Institute, A Hidden Gem

The Festival Institute is a hidden gem located in Round Top, Texas. Round Top was made famous with the bi-annual Texas Antiques Week. The little town, population 90, has recently become a yearlong destination for art and culture.



I, Gadabout Gal Tiff, was an antique dealer for the bi-annual Texas Antiques Week for several years before I discovered this surreal property. If you are familiar with the area, I displayed my antiques in a booth in front of the Coles building, then later landed in the Bar W field. I had no idea a magical get-away was just down the road from my booth in the often chaotic field. The Festival Institute campus would have been a tranquil retreat for me to recharge my creative juices.


Visitors are always welcome to explore the Festival Institute campus. The breath taking Festival Concert Hall is an acoustic masterpiece with impeccably detailed woodwork. Meander the perfectly manicured gardens and walking paths around the historic Edythe Bates Old Chapel. Behind the chapel is the surprising mediterranean style Albert and Ethel Herzstein Stone Chapel where visitors feel lost somewhere in Europe. Check out my recent stroll of Festival Hill, the hidden gem...


The Festival Institute was founded in 1971 by world-renowned concert pianist James Dick. Dick's vision was "to build a place where talented young music artists could come to study and perform in an inspirational environment as they advance their musical discipline." What began as a handful of students in a rented space in the town square has blossomed into an internationally acclaimed music institute for aspiring young musicians and distinguished faculty. The 210-acre campus has lovingly called "Festival Hill' is now a world class educational and cultural center.


A local Bed and Breakfast owner once shared with me that she always shows off Festival Hill as part of a tour offered to guests. She promises that if their jaw doesn't drop when they walk into the concert hall, their stay is free. She has never had to refund a reservation.


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Lucky visitors run into James Dick, founder and visionary. My husband Jeff and I had the pleasure of a personal tour with the legendary man. It was a treat I will always remember!


Experiencing events at the Festival Concert Hall is unforgettable. The August-to-April Series, the International Guitar Festival, the Theatre Forum, The Poetry Forum, and the Herbal Forum bring the total number of year-round events to more than fifty. My favorite is the Herbal Forum!


The Festival Institute is truly a magical escape from hectic life and a rare opportunity to experience artistic expression through music and architecture. Make time to discover this hidden gem.


Pro Tip: Planning a trip to Festival Institute? Make it a weekend getaway! There are numerous Bed and Breakfasts in the area. Contact the Round Top Chamber of Commerce for a list. Shopping is plentiful in Round Top, in fact there are several squares! Jeff and I frequent several fantastic restaurants in Round Top. Our favorites are Royer's Round Top Cafe, Mandito's Tex Mex and The Garden Company Cafe. After dinner, sip wine at Propst! Wine Bar. Just need coffee? There are two in this tiny town, Espressions Coffee and Art and Royer's Pie Haven! While you are here take time to explore the charming towns and pastoral back roads: Burton, Fayetteville, Carmine, La Grange and Brenham.

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