So, you’ve moved with Bellhops, unpacked, and settled into your new Austin apartment, started sampling Austin’s awesome food, and had a capital F-U-N first weekend in the state capital. Now it’s time to check out some local Austin events.
It’ll take more than one weekend to experience all the fun Austin has to offer, however. Not only is Austin the state capital, but it’s also considered by many to be the live music capital of the world. The city is home to great museums, a fantastic ballet, countless outdoor activities, and each year, tens of thousands of fans stream into Darrell K Royal–Texas Memorial Stadium to watch Texas Longhorns football.
And then there are the festivals. Austin is a festival town, hosting tons of events each year aimed at lovers of music, film, technology, comedy, food, wine, rodeo, kites (yes, kites), and much, much more. We’ve compiled a list of seven of the best Austin events, but you’re going to want to make your plans quickly, as they all happen in the spring. (Check back later for our summer, fall, and winter Austin festival picks.)
On your mark, get set, and mark your calendars:
- Zilker Kite Festival (March 5)
This high-flying kite competition and exhibition has become the official annual kick-off for Austin’s hundreds of springtime events. While the festival features a wide range of kite contests for kids and adults, most folks are drawn by the sight of hundreds of kites in the sky and the chance to spend a relaxing spring day in the park. Dogs are also welcome, and, best of all, attendance and participation are both absolutely free.
- South by Southwest (March 10-19)
One of the world’s most unique and anticipated Austin events, “South by,” as it’s commonly called, is an enormous mix of film, interactive media, music, and comedy festivals and conferences. This year’s lineup includes appearances by filmmaker Gareth Edwards (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), design icon Marc Jacobs, acclaimed indie pop band The Drums, and a panel discussion of renowned business leaders, including Mark Cuban. But that’s really just scratching the surface. Be sure to check out the full list of keynotes, conferences, screenings, panels, exhibitions, and performances.
- Rodeo Austin (March 11-25)
Since its launch in 1938, Rodeo Austin has grown from a 16-animal stock show into one of the biggest and most premier Austin events, featuring a top 10 ProRodeo, 100 live music performances ranging from country to punk, a world-class livestock show, sporting clay shootout tournament, gigantic carnival, shopping, and other shows and attractions. Be sure not to miss the free cowboy breakfast, ya hear?
- Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival (April 19-22)
Presented by the Paramount Theatre, the sixth annual installment of Moontower will bring more than 100 of the world’s funniest, wittiest, and oddest comics for a marathon of stand-up, sketch, improv, and musical comedy. This year’s lineup of comedians, podcasts, and special programming includes Ali Wong, Colin Quinn, Patton Oswalt, Chris Hardwick, Dana Gould, Michelle Wolf, Barry Crimmins, Ralphie May, SNL’s Melissa Villaseñor, the My Favorite Murder podcast, and crowd fave Ping Pong Slapdown with live commentary by the Sklar Brothers.
- Austin Food and Wine Festival (April 22-24)
Whether you want to spend a week indulging in artisanal food, wine, beer, and spirits from hundreds of purveyors, or mingle with chefs and grill alongside the pros—or both—this tasty festival is for you. Start with the intimate kickoff dinner, then check out more than 40 demos and tasting sessions boiling over with kitchen secrets, war stories, and more—straight from experts like Tim Love, Ming Tsai, Graham Elliott, Amanda Freitag, Andrew Zimmern, and many others. You can also throw down in a taco duel and enjoy live music late into the night.
- Pecan Street Festival (May 6-7)
One of the largest and longest-running arts/crafts and music festivals in the nation, the free, juried Pecan Street Festival attracts hundreds of local and national artisans offering original handcrafted creations in virtually every conceivable medium. In addition to the art and artists, the festival features nearly 50 of Austin’s top musical acts on three stages, as well as 30 food vendors offering healthy and, well, indulgent options.
- Farmgrass Festival (May 13)
Now in its third year, Farmgrass Fest serves up some of the area’s finest bluegrass along with beer, food vendors, fresh produce, and an Airstream boutique, as well as handmade and vintage clothing, jewelry, and other items. Proceeds from the festival go to an emergency medical fund that helps farmers throughout Central Texas. It’s a great time for a great cause.
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