Even the most average days in Austin always have something fun going. If you want to ramp up the excitement in your life about twenty notches, come to Austin during a festival. Here are some of the fun festivals that happen every year in and around the downtown.
Austin City Limits Music Festival is a nationally-known music festival that brings a wide variety of musicians and people to Austin during the first two weeks of October each year. The festival takes over Zilker Park and encourages patrons to walk, bike, or shuttle to the event. Shuttle services take patrons to the festival from around the city, including Republic Square downtown. In addition to the festival, there are numerous performances and afterparties (0ffically and unofficially) throughout downtown. Over 100 performances happen between the two weekends of festivities. ACL Music Fest is a music-lovers paradise.
Capital City Black Film Fest
Capital City Black Film Fest takes place in early December and attracts a global and multicultural audience of filmmakers, artists, industry professionals, and film enthusiasts. The festival expects to present over 80 films each year, including narratives documentaries, shorts, animations, and even music videos. Capital City Black Film Festival also offers year-round programming to highlight the talent of Black creators.
The Austin Design Week (ADW) in November brings together creatives, organizations, agencies, and designers for free talks, panels, installations, workshops, events, studio tours, and interactions. Each year, ADW centers all the activities around a theme that highlights the importance of design in improving communities and community members. Their definition of design is open-ended, including graphic design, architecture, digital design, fashion, and more to bring all disciplines around Austin together share their talents, projects, ideas, and workspaces.
Free Week takes over the Red River Cultural District every winter to celebrate live music during what is typically the slowest time of the year for live music venues and tours. Enjoy over 100 performances in 15 venues downtown by Austin’s amazing talent all for free. The tradition started at Emo’s in 2003 and has spread to entertainment districts across the nation.
Hot Summer Nights
If you can’t guess by the name, Hot Summer Nights happens every August in the Red River Cultural District. 11 venues in the district feature free live music performances by talented local musicians and bands. This is a great opportunity each year to discover some new music and explore downtown Austin’s live music venues.
iHeart Radio brought their iHeartCountry Festival to Austin. Country music fans can head to the Frank Erwin Center Plaza to enjoy their favorite artists towards the end of October. They even have a Daytime Village so that you don’t have to wait for evening performances to begin the festivities.
Moontower Comedy Festival
September is the time to laugh until your sides hurt. Moon Tower Comedy Festival spreads across downtown, featuring some of the funniest comedies around the globe. The Paramount and Stateside Theaters are the main headquarters to catch the festival’s headliners but you can enjoy a brilliant routine or show in numerous satellite venues as well.
Celebrate German Heritage in Central Austin at the annual AustOberfest. Hosted by Schlotz Biergarten, AustOberfest features German-style sausage, tons of beer, bowling, live music and even a contest stage to keep things weird. Dawn your finest lederhosen and enjoy your time at the Austin Oktoberfest.
Pecan Street Festival
The Pecan Street Festival is an art festival held twice yearly in the Sixth Street Historic District downtown, shutting down the streets the first weekend in May and the last weekend of September. The festival pulls in a large, diverse collection of local and national artisans and their handcrafted creations. The variety of artisans includes but is not limited to metal and woodworkers, sculptures, leatherworkers, glass blowers, and masons, painters, jewelry and textile makers, photographers and more. The festival also features musicians, magicians, local flavors and foods and interactive activities.
South By Southwest, often written SXSW and often referred to as “South By”, is a massive interactive festival celebrating talent and creativity. The fest is known for its diverse engagements that take over downtown Austin during March. SXSW includes a music festival, film festival, comedy festival and a conference for digital creatives consisting of keynote speakers, different panels, startup pitches and award ceremonies.
Texas Book Festival
The Texas Book Festival connects authors and readers through experiences that celebrate the culture of literacy, ideas, and imagination each October. Founded in 1995 by then First Lady of Texas Laura Bush, the vision is to inspire Texans of all ages to love reading. Each year, they invite over 300 writers from all over the world to the festival each year to interact with readers. The festival free and open to the public.
The Texas Tribune Festival
The Texas Tribune Festival, also known as TribFest is all about politics, public policy, and news. One of the first political festivals in the country, this festival is multiple days in the fall bringing in interesting panels, interviews, and other programming surrounding current events and crafted by journalists at the Texas Tribune. Enjoy excellent speakers and learn something new and newsworthy.
ATX Television Festival
Celebrate and learn more about TV at the ATX Television Festival. The festival focuses on its favorite medium, television, and runs through the history, evolution, and future of this technology. Enjoy screenings, panels, and celebrity-filled events while covering topics like ratings, series, test groups, and more each June.
This is not even an exhaustive list of all the amazing festivals that happen every year downtown in Austin. Embrace the festival season and have fun!