Guide to Austin's Best Festivals: SXSW, ACL, etc.


A Guide to Austin’s Best Festivals

Been-there tips to help you get the most out of Austin’s best festivals.


Austin City Limits

ACL is a three-day outdoor music festival in October where bands and solo artists from all over the country gather to share music. You must purchase a wristband to attend. ACL doesn’t cater to any specific genre of music; expect to see everything from The Head and The Heart (a folk band) to the infamous Kanye West. The stages are scattered across the vast greenery of Zilker Park, and you get a nifty pamphlet upon entering the festival that tells you who’s performing where.

A Guide to Austin’s Best Festivals

Even though it’s fall, do not – I repeat, DO NOT – underestimate the Texas heat. After three days of walking around without sunscreen, I was badly sunburned. I looked like a Roma tomato for the next week and a half. (And scrunching my nose was painful!) It isn’t uncommon for people to pass out from dehydration in the above-100-degree temperature, so make sure you bring a water bottle. (Or better yet, bring a jar to avoid dirty looks from locals who believe plastic is the devil.) Besides the relentless heat, the only stressful part about ACL is choosing which sets you really want to see. Stevie Wonder? My Morning Jacket? I debated this with myself all day, pondering the dilemma until the sun went down and I had to make a choice. I chose Stevie Wonder because I’m a sucker for classics. When he sang “Isn’t She Lovely,” I knew I’d made the right decision. My ACL experience was Wonder-ful.


  • Security people check your bag at the entrance, so don’t bring snacks. They will confiscate your expensive energy bars to be returned never.
  • Food trailers are everywhere, selling everything from sushi to tacos. Bring cash.
  • Don’t stand behind tall people. You’ll miss the whole show.
  • But just because you’re short doesn’t make it okay to sit on a guy’s shoulders. Don’t be that girl. Nobody likes that girl.
  • Bring either a backpack or a cross-body bag. Tote bags and handbags become tiresome and annoying.
  • When the music swells, put your hands up and dance. Be that girl. Everyone loves that girl.

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Sarah enlightens us on a daily basis with the newest trends as (and often before) they transpire. She is the consummate globe trotter. Having traveled to over 70 countries, she earns her living writing, blogging and modeling while on the road. In her spare time she gets manicures, suntans on yachts in Greece, shops for even more shoes, and lives in the limelight. She loves photography, elephants, sailboats, bangles and ballet flats.

Reader Discussion: 172 Comments

  1. Sharon Payson

    Staying hydrated is one of the tips that most of us who adore going to music festivals ignore. I’ve experienced getting really dehydrated to the point that I could barely keep up with the energy of the crowd. That was one of my worst experiences ever. Preparation truly is a key.

    • TARA

      Sunscreen and water is a must-have when you travel to Austin.

  2. Arthur Mence

    I have never been too much into the festival but I’ve been this year to the SummerFest in Milwaukee and I enjoyed it a lot. I only regret that they take every single bottle you have and they throw it, and then you have to pay 5 bucks for a new one inside! Why?? Do you really want people to die inside?

  3. Mira Kent

    If you’re in a budget, it’s good to know there are free day-time parties.

    • Kay Douglas

      Traveling doesn’t always have to be expensive. You just have to find the right itineraries.

  4. Mary Shirley

    This article made me fear being sunburned because of how frequent she mentioned it.

    • Sandra Walling

      Emphasis on the sunblock. Let’s not get dehydrated and sunburned.

  5. Ivelisse Ervin

    Be mindful of what you eat. People tend to get excited with all the foodcarts and forget not to mix onions with milk. Don’t eat too much even if that’s the best feeling on earth.

  6. Terri East

    Have fun and enjoy the festival. Nobody wants to see anyone frowning or sulking. #MoodBusters

    • Jerrie Ridlon

      Positive vibes ONLY.

  7. Sharon Novak

    Make sure your backpack supports the weight of the stuff inside properly. The straps shouldn’t be hurting your shoulders.

  8. Delores Mullen

    Bring cash and spare change. Don’t ask to pay with a credit card. Geez.

    • Bernice Miles

      A shoutout to the princesses out there that shell out big bills for tacos.

  9. Cindy Simon

    It’s also important to wear your most comfortable shoes.. Make sure you wear shoes that won’t hurt your feet or you’ll be crawling on your way back to the hotel.

    • Cathy Mitchell

      Be sure to bring two pairs of shoes, in case you break one like I did. Not funny to be naked feet all the time, and pretty dangerous I must say ^^

  10. Ann Amos

    Stay hydrated peeps! If you ain’t sweating, you ain’t having fun.

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