Countdown to the Austin City Limits Music Festival

It’s finally here! ACL (aka the Austin City Limits Music Festival) week!

Three days, eight stages and over 130 bands.

Now, I recognize that here in Austin there are the ACL lovers — those of your friends who have been every year, have friends come into town and talk about the festival for months — and the haters, the folks who find the Festival generally annoying and plan their long weekend to avoid any activities within ten miles of Zilker Park.

I feel very lucky to live in Austin and have the chance to go to ACL. Although I haven’t been since (GULP) I was pregnant with my son, it’s one of the reasons Austin is the Live Music Capitol of the World. It’s amazing people watching, a great vibe with like-minded people (well, OK, at least the ones who aren’t sloppy drunk) and…of course, the only place you can see this many bands in three days.

Here at LiveMom, we will be dedicating the week to covering the Festival, so stay tuned for interviews of artists playing the Festival and at Kiddie Limits, tips, the low down on the food court and other updates. In addition to the blog, we’ll also be posting updates and photos on Facebook and Twitter, so feel free to catch up with us there!

I’ll be sharing some general tips about the Festival. You concert veterans, please share your tips in the comments section!

Planning Ahead

  • Of course, the ACL website is chock full of information about all the bands playing and you can create a Custom Schedule which you can print or share with friends.
  • iPhone and Android apps bring the website to your mobile device and allow you to share your experience at the Festival with friends via social media.
  • Get your bearings by checking out the Festival map.
  • Get up-to-the-minute updates straight from the Festival on Facebook and Twitter.

Tickets and Wristbands

  • If you have just recently caught ACL fever, I was surprised to see folks are still trying to sell tickets on the ACL Facebook page and the ACL Message Board.
  • If you have a three day pass, as you probably know, you need to exchange your pass for a wristband. Starting tomorrow, you can do so at Zilker Park at the Box Office, which is close to where you’d park to go to the playground at Zilker (on the south side of Barton Springs). Here is more information about when you can make the switch and other ways to get your wristbands.
  • Single Day Pass Ticket Holders can’t leave and re-enter the Festival, so plan accordingly!
  • See the complete Ticket FAQ page for more information on tickets.

What to BringAdvertisement

  • Although ATMs are available on site, it’s smart to have enough cash on hand to pay for food, drinks and anything else you might want to pick up.
  • Most folks I talked to bring lightweight collapsible chairs. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to carry them around EVERYWHERE, but you may need some way to distinguish them from rows upon rows of chairs when you head back to claim them.
  • Even though it should be great weather this year, plan on bringing 2 unopened water bottles (they can be up to 1 liter in size). My friend Miriam brings a CamelBak to fill up with water at the free water stations situated around the Park.
  • Hand sanitizer, wipes and tissues are good to use throughout the weekend, especially when using the facilities.
  • Sunscreen — duh! — and it doesn’t hurt to have bug spray too, especially if you are staying into the evening.
  • Comfortable shoes are a MUST.
  • If you are going to evening shows, you might consider long sleeves (wouldn’t that be pleasant?!)
  • You can always check the list of what’s allowed and what’s not if you are not sure about bringing something.

Getting There

  • As you probably know, there is no parking at Zilker, or for that matter, anywhere near Zilker. Capital Metro runs free shuttles from Republic Square (where the Downtown Farmers’ Market is — 4th & Guadalupe) from 10am until 11pm each day of the Festival. Here is a list and maps of downtown parking garages.
  • Several friends recommended riding a bike to get to the Festival. Bike racks are right at each entrance gate, and with this year’s weather, it should be a perfect way to get down to Zilker.
  • You could always ask someone to drop you off. The drop-off area is north of the Mopac pedestrian bridge by Austin High (although there is no parking there).
  • Roads leading into the park area will close on Thursday at midnight and reopen on Sunday at midnight.

ACL with Kids

  • The Statesman ran a great article last week about ACL with kids.
  • The sand volleyball courts on the north side of Zilker are transformed into Austin Kiddie Limits (AKL) and a “beach” for ACL. (If you are bringing the kids all day, why not bring beach toys, since in essence it’s one giant sandbox!?)
  • If you have any doubt about whether your child can last the whole day on his or her two feet, bring a stroller (keep in mind it might not be so easy to push a regular stroller in the Park). This can also give you an extra place to stick your belongings.
  • Aimee suggested that while the food is great, it’s worthwhile to bring kid-friendly snacks and fruit for your little rockers.
  • You may want to consider picking up a pair of kid-sized headphones to protect your children’s ears.
  • Check out all the AKL has to offer, including punk hairdos, the DrumZone, Rock Star Video Karaoke and an African Dance & Drum workshop.
  • Take advantage of the Festival’s free Tag-a-Kid service. Your child will receive a specially numbered wristband which will enable staff to contact you in the case you get separated from your child/ren. If you have older children, you might consider having a flag or some other item  near your chairs or blanket which can be seen from far away.

Who’s going? Are you going with or without kids? Did anyone score tickets to an aftershow? Any tips to share from veteran Festivalgoers?

About Nicole Basham 793 Articles
A native Austinite and soccer-playing mom, Nicole uses her 10-year-old son as an excuse to rediscover her hometown through his eyes. In Thoreau's words, her mission is to "suck out all the marrow of life", or in her son's words, to cultivate in him a love of "advenchers".

3 Comments on Countdown to the Austin City Limits Music Festival

  1. From what I understand, getting separated CAN be stressful b/c so many folks are trying to text/email/call that it can take a long time to get messages. Maybe at the start of the day you can set up a spot to meet your group if you get separated?

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