Many of Austin’s festivals capitalize on the city’s large community of local musicians and/or on the great outdoors. The major annual events are listed here. Additional local events may also be found by logging on to www.austintexas.org/events, www.austin360.com, and www.austinchronicle.com.
Red Eye Regatta, Austin Yacht Club, Lake Travis. The bracing lake air at this keelboat race should help cure the aftereffects of too much New Year’s Eve. www.austinyachtclub.net/annual-red-eye-regatta; 512/266-1336. New Year’s Day.
MLK March, Festival, and Food Drive, multiple venues. Marchers go from the MLK statue on the UT campus to the historically African-American Huston-Tillotson University, where vendors and musicians celebrate Martin Luther King’s birthday. www.mlkcelebration.com; 512/657-3064. Third Monday in January.
FronteraFest, Hyde Park Theater, other venues. Five weeks of fringe theater and performance art keep things lively in what is now the largest festival of its type in the Southwest. www.hydeparktheatre.org; 512/479-7530. Mid-January to mid-Februrary.
Carnival Brasileiro, Emo’s. Conga lines, elaborate costumes, samba bands, and confetti are all part of this sizzling Carnaval-style event, started in 1975 by homesick Brazilian UT students. www.sambaparty.com. First or second Saturday in February.
OUTsider Festival, various venues. Academics, artists, musicians, filmmakers, and other creatives in the LGBTQI community come together for 5 days of performances and discussions. www.outsiderfest.org. Third week in February.
South by Southwest (S[ts]SW) Conference & Festivals, various venues. The Austin Music Awards kick off this 2-week-long conference, with hundreds of concerts at more than 50 city venues, in addition to various lectures and symposia. Aspiring music-industry and tech professionals sign up months ahead. www.sxsw.com; 512/467-7979. Usually around 2nd week in March.
Rodeo Austin, Leudecke Arena. This 2-week Wild West extravaganza features rodeos, cattle auctions, a youth fair, BBQ cookoffs, and lots of live country music. www.rodeoaustin.com; 512/919-3000. Mid- to late March.
Jerry Jeff Walker’s Texas Bash, various locations. Each year, singer/songwriter Walker performs at such venues as Gruene Hall and the Paramount Theatre; proceeds benefit music education for young people. www.jerryjeff.com; 512/477-0036. Late March, early April.
ABC Kite Festival, Zilker Park. Colorful handmade kites fill the sky during this popular annual contest, one of the country’s oldest of its kind. www.abckitefest.org; 512/837-9500. Last Sunday in March.
Statesman/Cap10k, downtown. Texas’ largest 10K race winds from the state capitol through West Austin, ending up at Lady Bird Lake. www.cap10k.com; 512/445-3598. Early April.
Art City Austin Fine Arts Festival, Palmer Center. This 3-day fair features a large juried art show, fine art performances, and lots of kids’ activities. www.artallianceaustin.org; 512/609-8587. Mid-April.
Austin Food + Wine Festival, Auditorium Shores. Cooking demonstrations; beer, wine, and food tastings; book signings; and celebrity chef dinners fill this 3-day foodfest; book in advance. www.austinfoodandwinefestival. Third or fourth weekend in April.
Old Settlers Music Festival, Tilmon. More than two dozen bluegrass bands descend on Tilmon, about 10 miles southeast of Austin, for this Americana roots music fest, which also includes workshops, craft booths, and kid’s entertainment. www.oldsettlersmusicfest.org. Mid-April.
Old Pecan Street Spring Arts and Crafts Festival, Sixth Street. Eat and shop for crafts along downtown’s entertainment drag while bands play nearby. www.pecanstreetfestival.org. First weekend in May.
O. Henry Museum Pun-Off, backyard of the O. Henry Museum. This annual battle of the wits is for a wordy cause—the upkeep of the three Brush Fair Museums, including O. Henry’s former house. www.punpunpun.com. Mid-May.
Hot Luck, multiple venues. One of Austin’s newer (and hipper) festivals is devoted to two local favorites: chef-driven food and local music. Proceeds benefit a domestic violence prevention group. www.hotluckfest.com. Memorial Day weekend.
ATX Television Festival, multiple downtown venues. This 4-day tubefest is geared toward both fans and those looking to work in the industry. www.atxfestival.com; 512/551-1330. First weekend in June.
Republic of Texas Biker Rally, Travis County Expo Center. The city fills with the sound of rolling thunder during this downtown bike parade that ends at the State Capitol. Custom bike makers display their newest creations at the Expo Center. www.rotrally.com; 512/906-9954. Usually second weekend in June.
Juneteenth, various venues, mostly in East Austin. This celebration of African-American emancipation (designated a Texas state holiday in 1980) generally includes a parade, gospel singing, and many children’s events. For info, contact the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. www.austintexas.gov/carvermuseum; 512/974-4926. June 19.
H-E-B Austin Symphony Concert & Fireworks, Vic Mathias Shores. Cannons, fireworks, and a rousing rendition of the “1812 Overture” are highlights of this noisy freedom celebration. www.austinsymphony.org/events; 888/4-MAESTRO (888/4-6237876) or 512/476-6064. July 4.
Bat Fest, Congress Ave. Bridge/Austin American Statesman parking lot. A bat costume contest, arts and crafts, food, and music are key to this 1-day event, starring 1.5 million free-tailed bats that emerge from under the bridge at dusk. www.roadwayevents.com/event/bat-fest. Mid-August.
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Waterloo Park. The largest hot-sauce contest in the world features more than 350 salsa entries, judged by celebrity chefs and food editors. www.austinchronicle.com/hot-sauce; 512/454-5766. Last Sunday in August.
Diez y Seis, Fiesta Gardens Park, Plaza Saltillo, and other sites. Mariachis and folk dancers, conjunto and Tejano music, plus fajitas, piñatas, and clowns help celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain. The highlight is the crowning of the Fiestas Patrias Queen. www.diezyseis.org; 512/974-6797. Weekend around September 16.
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Zilker Park. Yet more evidence of Austin’s devotion to live music, this music extravaganza mounts a superb lineup of musical talent. www.aclfestival.com; 888/512/7649. First 2 weekends in October.
Austin Film Festival, Paramount Theatre and other venues. Screening 100 films in a little over a week—everything from restored classics to new indie releases—this filmfest attracts movie fans, aspiring screenwriters, and filmmakers galore. www.austinfilmfestival.com; 800/310-FEST (3378) or 512/478-4795. Mid-October.
Texas Book Festival, State Capitol. One of the largest literary events in the Southwest, this 2-day fundraiser for Texas public libraries draws literati from all over the U.S. www.texasbookfestival.org; 512/477-4055. Late October.
Viva La Vida, Fourth St./Congress Ave. Co-sponsored by the City of Austin and the Mexic-arte Museum, the city’s longest Day of the Dead festival features a grand procession, food booths, live music, crafts, and a low-rider exhibition. www.mexic-artemuseum.org; 520/480-9373. Last Saturday in October or first in November.
Austin Powwow, Travis County Expo Center. Native American dancers, singers, musicians, artists, and crafters come together at this American Indian Heritage festival, the largest of its kind in Texas. http://austinpowwow.net; 520/371-0628. Early November.
Celtic Fest, Jourdan Bachman Pioneer Farms. Dancing, a dog parade, men in kilts, demonstrations of Viking fights . . . you don’t have to be a Celt to enjoy this lively, family-friendly 2-day event. www.austincelticfestival.com. First weekend in November.
Austin Area Jazz Festival, Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center. A good cure for the holiday frazzles, this day of smooth jazz includes national acts as well as up-and-comers. www.austinareajazzfestival.com; 512/541-6297. Late November.
Chuy’s Christmas Parade, Congress Ave. With giant balloons, marching bands, floats, and gifts for needy kids, this is a great way to ring in the season. www.chuysparade.com. Saturday after Thanksgiving.
Zilker Park Tree Lighting. The lighting of a magnificent 165-foot tree is followed by the Trail of Lights, a mile-long display of life-size holiday scenes. A 5K run is also involved. https://austintrailoflights.org. First Sunday of month (tree lighting); second Sunday through December 23 (Trail of Lights).
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Palmer Events Center. Revel in Tex-Mex food, live music, and a full bar at this high-quality art, craft, and gift show, lasting 11 days. www.armadillobazaar.com; 512/447-1605. Begins approximately 2 weeks before Christmas.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.