In this episode of Discover Austin, we head to Zilker Park for the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Six days over two weekends, over 400,000 of your “closest friends,” and all the live music you can imagine makes ACL an experience not to be missed. Also, you can watch additional Discover Austin episodes on our YouTube page. Click that subscribe button so you don’t miss our latest episodes.
You might notice a quick glimpse of a prior episode’s topic: Moonlight Tower
Greetings, I’m Craig Smyser. Early each fall, one of Austin’s most popular and notable events takes place at Zilker Park. This episode of Discover Austin is all about the Austin City Limits Music Festival.
Commonly referred to as ACL, the Austin City Limits Music Festival is an epic event that takes place for six days, over two long weekends. There are eight stages, over 125 performances, and well over 400,000 enthusiastic music lovers in attendance. ACL is essentially a giant party in a park, complete with all the live music you can possible pack into a full weekend. It’s a lot of music in a compact area so you can enjoy a whole variety of genres without having to go very far between bands. A list of some past headliners is long but I will highlight Paul McCartney, Jay Z, Willie Nelson, the Dave Matthews Band, and Pearl Jam. But there are also local bands, niche groups, and lesser known artists that you can enjoy. Originally held in 2002, the first year had 67 bands playing over two days with 42,000 fans in attendance. Because it borrows its name from the popular TV show Austin City Limits, the first year really benefited from the goodwill ACL has both within the music industry and Austin itself.
You may wonder why I’m not showing you any of the performances. Unfortunately, they’re copyrighted and we don’t have permission to show them to you. It’s really a lot like a pharmaceutical commercial in which you don’t see the actual ailment, but instead see people frolicking all around having a good time. It’s the same thing at ALC, these people are have a blast listening to the music. And they also frolic.
While several of Austin’s big events such as South by Southwest and Formula 1 racing bring a lot of tourists to Austin, ACL is really more of a local event. Sure a lot of people come from out of town to be a part of it, but you’ll likely find most of your friends going to ACL than the other two.
Of course, you have to take a photo at the big ACL picture frame. This iconic image has downtown Austin as the back drop and no Instagram account is complete without one.
If you spend all day at ACL for three days in a row, you’re going to need something to eat. ACL Eats offers great food, drinks, and treats from over 30 locally owned restaurants. There’s a beer hall, wine lounge, hydration stations, and much more.
If you’d like a chance to meet up with some of your favorite artists, be sure to visit the artist signings tent.
While I personally don’t think younger kids would enjoy the main events of ACL, they do have a special area for the little ones. So if you bring yours along, be sure to stop by Austin Kiddie Limits. This section of ACL has plenty of activities for the kids and is a nice place for families to escape the crowds.
Because all of ACL is held outdoors, the weather can pose some issues. While the temperatures are generally not a problem, rain can be. Back in 2013, torrential rains forced the cancellation of the last day of ACL. With a lot of artists in town and no where to play, a free-for-all ensued as private music venues, clubs, and wealthy Austinites scrambled to book many of these acts for last minute events. In fact, Lionel Richie ended up playing a private concert for 50 people in someone’s home.
Next fall, grab a friend, get a wristband, and head down to Zilker Park to experience one of Austin’s signature events, ACL. I’m Craig Smyser, thanks for joining me for this episode of Discover Austin.