The Definitive Austin Festival Guide

Posted by Karli Jaenike on Wednesday, September 17th, 2014 at 3:17pm.

Austin is known for its plethora of activities, but you may not realize how many festivals occur in our city. There are so many, in fact, that you could attend a festival every week for the entire year! To help you navigate the madness, we’ve made a definitive list of every Austin festival ranging from music, to art, to cultural, to foodie. There are so many options, and a music festival for just about everyone! 

                                          

1. Carnaval Brasileiro (February) – Austin’s one night Carnival celebration is one of the biggest Brazilian carnival celebrations outside of Brazil! Participants don their best carnival garb (feathers, sequins, corsets, showgirl attire) and dance the night away to samba, drum beats, and other Brazilian music. What started, as a small party for Brazilian Austinites has become an Austin institution! This event usually costs around $40, and is not necessarily kid or pet friendly. Insider tip: paint your face or body, or sport a large feather headdress to fit right in!

2. Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival (February) -The Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival brings Austin a weekend of down-home traditional Texas music from up and coming artists as well as more established ones. Tejano performers who have headlined in the past include Vickie Roque and Beatriz San Ana, as well as “El Gato Negro” Ruben Ramos. This is a family-friendly event and all ages are welcome. Full weekend passes are sold for $30 - $40 and can be purchased on their website. 

3. Jugglefest (Feb) - Celebrating its 22nd year, Jugglefest is a three-day event celebrating all things circus arts! During the festival, guests can attend workshops, play games, and watch demonstrations and shows featuring jugglers, unicyclers, and other related circus arts. Everyone is welcome from beginners to advanced jugglers to spectators! Admission is around $10 - $20, and children are allowed (pets are not, as this is usually an indoor event). 

4. Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo (March) - Celebrate the country lifestyle at the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo! Attractions include competitive events, rodeo, livestock show, carnival, Chow Town food court, and country music! Events take place over several days, so view the most updated schedule on their website. While all ages are welcome, pets are not. Insider tip: Check out the BBQ competition, it's always a good time!!

5. Zilker Park Kite Festival (March) - Every March Austin hosts its annual Zilker Park Kite Festival in Zilker Park. Austinites can enjoy a day of fun in the sun before it gets too hot flying kites, participating in contests, or visiting one of the many booths and vendors. Children, adults, and pets alike enjoy this festival; so bring the whole family out! For more details about this FREE event, visit their website! Insider tip: due to the volume of people in attendance, food lines can get long. Pack yourself a picnic lunch to avoid the crowds!

6. SXSW (South by Southwest) (March) - South by Southwest Interactive, Film, and Music festival is one of Austin’s largest festivals. Broken up into three parts, each focus of the festival holds its own appeal. The Interactive portion boasts conferences, workshops, panels, and parties featuring some of the nations leaders in technology. The Film portion of the festival features premiers, parties, and screenings of the year’s best films (both indie and mainstream). During the music portion, just about every venue in the city takes part hosting all sorts of musical talent from indie bands from around the world to some of the world’s most popular acts. Festivalgoers can buy wristbands to participate in the more exclusive activities, or opt to take advantage of all of the free parties and shows around town. For more information and official (wristband) lineups, check out their website! 

7. Pan American Festival (March) - The Pan American festival, produced by Bellas Artes Alliance and the City of Austin, is a two-day, free, all-embracing arts, entertainment, and educational event. The festival fosters an appreciation of America’s diverse cultures and heritage by bringing together the best of music, dance, theatre, and film performers. Also featured are visual, culinary, and literary artists providing a rich experience for the whole family. Kids are allowed, while pets are not, and this event is FREE to the public!

8. Austin Urban Music Festival (March) - The Austin Urban Music Festival celebrates urban music, which includes rap, hip-hop, R&B, soul, jazz, and gospel music. This is a family-friendly event and usually takes place on the banks of Town Lake at Auditorium Shores. Tickets are usually $25.00 - $75.00, and pets are not allowed. For this year’s lineup and information, visit their website! Insiders tip: this festival usually takes place during the Clyde Littlefield Texas Relays, so if you're in town for the relays head on over to the festival!

9. Zilker Garden Festival (March) - The Zilker Garden Festival and Flower Show takes place at the Zilker Botanical Garden and features gardening workshops, vendors, a food court, a kids corner, and some music events! Past workshops have included subjects like, “Natives any HOA Will Love” and “Harvesting Fresh Herbs for the Kitchen”. For this year’s schedule, visit their website!

10. Austin Jewish Film Festival (March/April) - The Austin Jewish Film Festival aims to connect Central Texans with some of the best current Jewish films from around the world. Most genres of film are welcome including short films, documentaries, animated, and feature-length films. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit their website.

11. Annual Lonestar Roundup (April) - Lonestar Roundup is a large outdoor car show and live music festival that features tons of vintage hot rods and custom cars! Guests can check out the cars from around the country while listening to live music or shopping at some of the unique vending booths. There are even mini-bike races and food from local vendors! 

12. Texas VegFest (April) - Texas Vegfest is a celebration of all things vegetable! Taking place at Fiesta Gardens on Lady Bird Lake, this event is free to the public. Participants can enjoy educational lectures, cooking demonstrations, community outreach events, youth activities, fantastic food, craft beer, and live music!  For more information or to sponsor or volunteer, visit their website! 

13. Texas Burlesque Festival (April) - The Texas Burlesque Festival is a three-day event celebrating the revival of burlesque, vaudeville, and the accompanying et cetera. Attendees can participate in parties, workshops, and a roundtable brunch. There will be performances all weekend from competing burlesque troops! Find out more about this unique event on their website!

14. Art City Austin (April) - Art City Austin is an iconic arts festival that transforms the streets of Downtown into a celebration of art, culture, and creativity. Austinites can view local art, listen to music, eat good food, and play at this outdoor faire of nationally recognized artists. For this years lineup, visit their website!

15. Austin Reggae Festival (April) - The Austin Reggae Festival is an annual event that takes place near downtown either in Auditorium Shores or across the street at Butler Park (depending on the conditions at Auditorium Shores). Reggae acts from around the world play to benefit the Capital Area Food Bank and give Austinites a taste of Jamaican flavor. Shop at the many vendor booths, or enjoy some delicious Austin food at this family friendly event!

16. Cine Las Americas (April) - Cine Las Americas is an Austin Film Festival, which screens over 100 films, representing over 30 countries. For this year’s list of screenings, visit their website.

17. Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival (April) - This comedy festival has been gaining popularity over the last few years, and features some of the biggest names in comedy. Past performers include Aziz Ansari, Godfrey and many more! Each year a new bunch of comics come to town to make Austin laugh, check out the latest lineup on their website!

18. Fusebox Festival (April) - Fusebox Festival is an annual hybrid art festival that focuses on the core values of conversation, exploration, education, collaboration, and artist support. The festival is described as, “A space where artists and audiences can take risks, ask questions, break rules, blur boundaries, and explore ideas together. It is a platform for visionary works, unabashed play, and new ways of engaging with our world." For festival details, visit their website! 

 

19. Old Settler’s Music Festival (April) - Old Settlers is an annual festival held in Driftwood, Texas that features various Americana musicians along with vendors, craft beer, and a laid-back atmosphere. Past headliners include Bela Fleck, Joan Osborne, Alison Krauss, and Robert Earl Keen. This event is family friendly, and camping is available!

 

20. Austin Food and Wine Festival (April) - The Austin Food and Wine Festival takes place in April at various restaurants and venues around Austin. Some of the top chefs in America give demos & panels as well as participate in tastings and parties. Perfect for any Austin “foodie”, this festival is not one to miss. For tickets or information, visit their website!

 

21. Buda County Fair and Wiener Dog Races (April) - This annual event features wiener dog races as well as arts and crafts booths, best dressed dog competitions, an IBCA sanctioned BBQ cook-off, and much more. Attendees can prepare for a day of family fun just south of Austin!

 

22. Austin Fashion Week (April/May) - Austin Fashion Week has established itself as one of the premier fashion events in the Southern United States. Independent designers from all over the world have debuted collections during Austin Fashion Week, and Austinites can experience many fashion shows, events, and parties during this time. So dress to the nines, and join the fun!

 

23. Austin Psych Fest (May) - Austin Psych Fest is an annual three-day festival that focuses on alternative music genres, specifically psychedelic, experimental, noise, garage, and drone rock music.  Founded in 2008, past headliners have included The Ravonettes, Deerhunter, and the Black Angels. To check out this year’s location and lineup visit their website!

 

24. Pecan Street Festival (May) - One of Central Texas’s oldest festivals, this free two-day arts event is held each spring and fall in downtown Austin (in the Sixth Street Historic District).  Local and national artists offer handcrafted art while musical acts play on three stages. Family-friendly activities like a petting zoo and magicians make this a perfect event for the whole family. 

 

25. West Austin Studio Tour (May) - The West Austin Studio Tour is a free, self-guided tour that showcases Austin’s creative community on the West Side. Come discover new artists, tour studios, and learn all about Austin’s thriving art scene! For dates, times, and boundaries, check out their website!

 

26. Austin Sketch Fest (May) - Sketch Fest showcases the best-scripted comedy in the Central Texas area. Produced by the local ColdTowne Theater, groups local and national come to show Austin what they’ve got! If you like to laugh, this is one not to miss!

 

27. Kerrville Folk Festival (May-June) - Kerrville Folk Festival is a three weeklong festival featuring folk musicians and singer-songwriters from all over the country. Featuring an intimate, family-oriented atmosphere by day this festival has healthy food vendors, artisans and vendor booths, as well as an eclectic crowd to converse with. When the main stage shows are over, the camp grounds light up with campfire showcases at most of the small “camps” people form during their extended stays. 

 

28. Red Fest (May) - Red Fest is the festival for “folks that do it outdoors”. This three-day party has a southern attitude and features music and comedy with a country-style feel. Past headliners have included:  Tim McGraw, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jeff Foxworthy and Larry the Cable Guy. Attendees can participate in hands-on outdoor activities and sports, or visit the old style saloon, dance hall, and massive sports bar. To check the latest lineup, visit their website!

 

29. Blues on the Green (Summer) - Summers in Austin aren’t complete without a Wednesday evening trip to Blues on the Green! All summer, every other Wednesday, Zilker Park fills with thousands of Austinites gathering to hear some amazing music. Past headliners have included Groupo Fantasma, Shiny Ribs, and Bob Schneider. The lineup is posted a few weeks before summer starts, and you can find it on their website!

 

30. ATX Television Festival (June) - The Television Festival celebrates the history and future of the television medium. The weekend consists of events where attendees can interact with actors, writers, directors, creators, show runners, music supervisors, casting directors and studio executives in the small screen business. There are also panels, screenings, parties, live music, and social media events to attend. All TV appreciators should enjoy this one!

31. Summer X Games (June) - The X Games is an action-sporting event held at the Circuit of the Americas that features extreme sports like Moto X, Skateboarding, BMX, Rallying and Off-Road Trucking. While the festival moves around the country, it’s set to call Austin its home for the next few years. In addition to the extreme sports competitions, attendees can participate in a number of related activities and watch big-name musical acts perform. For the most recent news and schedule, visit their website.

32. The Republic of Texas Biker Rally (June) - ROT Rally is a gathering at the Travis County Expo Center of bikers and motorcycle enthusiasts from around the country. Being the largest “turnstile” motorcycle rally in the USA, thousands of bikers flock to Austin to enjoy motorcycle shows, the Austin nightlife, and the beautiful Texas Hill Country. If you go downtown during ROT Rally, you can rub elbows with thousands of bikers!

33. Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5k (June) - Keeping with our city’s theme, the Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5k embraces the quirky mindset that makes Austin what it is – weird! The fest features live music, food vendors, and a “weird” costume contest (the winner get’s a whole years worth of free Amy’s Ice Cream!!!) At the same day and time as the festival, the “slowest 5k on the planet” takes place benefiting local Austin charities. Check out the fun and let your freak flag fly!

34. Austin Chamber Music Festival (June-July) - The Austin Chamber Music Festival is a free event featuring classical music that is (many times) nationally acclaimed! Past performers have included the Calder String Quartet, The Texas Gypsies, and the Cavatina Duo. For information about this year’s festival, check out their website.

35. Ice Cream Festival (July) - The Austin Ice Cream Festival includes games, activities, contests, and live entertainment as well as (of course)… free ice cream!!! Usually held at the Fiesta Gardens, this event is fun for the whole family. A $10 entry gets you all of the free ice cream you can eat, and kids 8 and under get in free! For information on this years event, check out their website!

36. Bat Fest (August) - Every year, thousands gather on the Congress Bridge to celebrate the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that live under it. With 3 stages of live music, arts and crafts vendors, lots of food and drink, fun children’s activities, and a bat costume contest, this festival is a truly unique, family-friendly event. 

37. Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival (August) - The Austin Chronicle hosts its annual hot sauce festival every summer, which is the largest hot sauce festival in the world! Free to the public (with a donation of three healthy, non-perishable food items), this event draws over 15,000 spectators and over 350 entries every year! If you like spice, this one's for you!

38. Kerrville Music and Wine Festival (August) - The Kerrville Music and Wine Festival (also known as “Little Folk”) is held at the same grounds as the Kerrville Folk Festival (Quiet Valley Ranch). A smaller festival, it features beer and wine seminars as well as good Americana/folk music. For more information on exact scheduling, visit their website!

39. Out of Bounds Comedy Festival (August) - The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival showcases live performance acts like sketch, stand-up, improv, and other comedy styles from around the world. The seven-day festival hosts over 500 performers, and also offers workshops. For this year’s lineup, check out their website! 

40. Fantastic Fest (September) - This film fest specializes in fantasy, sci-fi, horror and action movies. One of the largest in the country, Fantastic fest has presented the world premieres of movies like There Will Be Blood, Apocalypto, and Zombieland. Named as one of the “25 coolest film festivals” by Moviemaker Magazine, and held at the hip Alamo Drafthouse Theater, this is one that movie fans should not miss!

41. Austin City Limits Music Festival (October) - ACL festival is an Austin classic, and one of the largest events that the city hosts. Held in early fall in Zilker Park, past performers have included national acts like Pearl Jam, Outkast, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Neil Young, The Cure, Muse, Kings of Leon, and so, so many more. This large festival lasts three days, and now spans two weekends, and hosts 8 stages and around 75,000 people each day. Aside from the vast array of music offered at ACL, there are also tons of local vendors, food trucks, and promotions going on inside the festival and on many of the surrounding streets. Don’t miss one of the biggest events of the year in Austin!

42. Fredericksburg Oktoberfest (October) - The small town of Fredericksburg, outside of Austin, hosts its annual Oktoberfest each October to celebrate its German heritage. Complete with bratwurst (and basically every other kind of wurst), a huge selection of domestic, local, and German beer, and German music and dancers, this festival is fun for the whole family! The fest usually costs under $10 a person, and children 6 and under are free.

43. Austin Film Festival (October) - The Austin Film Festival and Conference is held each fall to celebrate Austin’s love of movies! Held at several downtown venues are over 200 premieres, many parties, multiple screenings, and networking events. This festival focuses on recognizing the writers in filmmaking, and seeks strong examples of written and visual storytelling. At the conference, attendees can enjoy panels, awards, and seminars from some of the best in the business!

44. Texas Book Festival (October) - The Texas Book festival is the perfect fest for any bookworm. Each year, the festival hosts around 300 authors who speak at sessions, panels, and lectures around the city. During the week there is a Lit Crawl, book signings, and tons of food vendors, and exhibits. The event is free and open to the public, and takes place at the State Capital and surrounding areas. For an entire list of participating authors, please view their website!

45. Art Outside (October) - Art Outside is a unique music and arts festival held about an hour north east of Austin. Focusing on all elements of the arts including visual, musical, performance, improv, comedy, and so much more, this festival has something for everyone. Music bridges several genres from bluegrass to electronic to hip-hop on several stages throughout the grounds. Many attendees act as members of the artistic community, participating by donning crazy costumes, hula hooping, acro-yoga, or displaying their own form of art. This event is family friendly, and there is camping on site!

46. Formula One (Oct – Nov) - The Formula One races take place annually at the newly built Circuit of the Americas in Austin. Racers from around the world participate in the United States Grand Prix in which some of the fastest (and most expensive) cars on the planet race the track. In 2013, over 250,000 guests watched the races, making it one of the highest attended F1 Grand Prix races of the season! In addition to the races, many musical acts play at the Austin 360 Amphitheater (located inside the Circuit of the Americas). Additionally, downtown is transformed into a festival itself with pop-up stages and interactive promotions. 

47. Wanderlust Yoga Festival (November) - The Wanderlust Yoga Festival comes to Austin each fall, bringing a talented lineup of yoga instructors with it. The lineup usually includes meditations, workshops, art, expeditions, music, and (of course) yoga classes! Additionally, local food, wine, and crafts vendors are available to sample, focusing on healthy, organic, small batch fare. If you’re a fan of yoga, you don’t want to miss this weekend!

48. FunFunFun Fest (November) - Fun Fun Fun Fest boasts one of the more eclectic lineups available in the Austin music festival scene. Held close to downtown Austin, the festival features top-notch musical acts, comedy, food, and even action sports! Past headliners include Judas Priest, Nas, Modest Mouse, Public Enemy, Spoon, MGMT, Danzig, and GWAR. In addition to these headliners, Fun Fun Fun Fest does a wonderful job of showcasing local talent and supporting Austin’s live music scene. For full lineup, check out their website!

49. Wurstfest (November) - Wurstfest is held in New Braunfels, about a 30-minute drive south of Austin. During this 10-day festival, held in Landa Park, you can celebrate all things sausage, beer, and family! For over 50 years, the festival has been offering tons of different styles of sausage, bratwurst, brews, and German-style music. Bring the whole family to this cultural event!

50. East Austin Studio Tour (November) - This free, annual event is basically a self-guided art tour of the East Side of Austin that spans two weekends. Attendees can meet local artist, discover new artistic talent, and explore the hip, trendy East Side. During this time, art installations might be erected, public art competitions are held and art parties can be found. This is the perfect event to bring out your inner-hipster! 

51. Austin Celtic Festival (November) - Austinites can attend the annual Celtic Festival, which showcases everything from Celtic music, to Celtic dance, to Celtic sports. Celtic history is demonstrated through a Viking Invasion hands-on Celtic experience, and Celtic workshops. People can buy traditional Celtic crafts and clothing, as well as listen to nationally recognized traditional Celtic music.

52. Trail of Lights (December) - Held during the holiday season each year, the Austin Trail of Lights has become a local tradition! Visitors can walk down 1.25 miles of holiday lights while sampling local food, and watching local entertainment. It runs for several weeks each December, so the food and entertainment varies. Trail of Lights began 1965, and has been running ever since, take your family to view this Austin favorite!

With all of these festivals happening year-round, no wonder so many Austin visitors decide to stay! If you are considering moving to the Austin area, you can search for homes on our up to date website!

1 Response to "The Definitive Austin Festival Guide"

Interrogating the interesting Winter Festivals To Check Out Across America » wrote: [...]indoor space. To learn about more exciting festivals in Austin, check out Homecity’s “The Definitive Austin Festival Guide.”
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