Polar Bear Splash
Barton Springs Pool, 2101 Barton Springs Road • www.sosalliance.org
For the last 30+ years, Austinites have been plunging into Barton Springs Pool for this annual Austin version of the Polar Bear swim sponsored by the SOS Alliance, a nonprofit dedicated to the preservation of Barton Springs. Worried about the cold? Barton Springs is a constant 68 degrees, so our human Polar Bears are much warmer than those in, say, Minnesota.
First Thursday on South Congress Avenue (Monthly Event)
South Congress between Barton Springs Road and Elizabeth Street • www.firstthursday.info
First Thursday is a popular monthly event with the atmosphere of a giant block party. On the first Thursday of each month, South Congress stores stay open late, some with special sales on items, food, and drinks. Booths line the street, selling handcrafted jewelry, photography and art, pottery, homemade soap, clothes and more, and there’s also live music and even a Volkswagen parade!
Carnaval in Austin
Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Road • www.sambaparty.com
Known as “Austin’s Best Party,” Carnaval in Austin is one of the biggest celebrations outside Brazil. Music and wild abandon merge into relentless fun for all.
Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon
Austin • 512-476-7223 • www.youraustinmarathon.com
For more than 20 years, the Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon event hosts as many as 20,000 runners every year and has generated more than $90 million for the local economy and $6 million for Austin non-profits. The Marathon is the 23rd largest marathon in the United States and has been host to an international field of approximately 130,000 runners over the years.
Zilker Kite Festival
Zilker Park, Austin • 512-448-5481 • www.zilkerkitefestival.com
Started in 1929, the Zilker Kite Festival is a staple in annual Austin events and celebrates the beauty of the homemade kite. Each year thousands of kites take to the air, painting the blue sky with a miasma of bright colors. While attendees are encouraged to bring their own homemade kites to participate in the event, the Festival is for anyone who wants to attend. Other activities include face painting, games and contests, rock wall climbing, moonwalks, and plenty of tasty food.
Austin • 512-445-3598 • www.statesman.com/cap10k/
The Statesman Capitol 10,000 is the largest 10K run (or walk, if you wish) in Texas and the fifth largest in the nation. In its 34th year, the Capitol 10,000 has become an annual rite of spring in the region.
It’s My Park! Day
Austin • 512-445-3598 • www.austinparks.org/itsmypark.html
It’s My Park! Day is an annual community service day event focused on improvements to Austin’s parks. Individuals and community groups lead projects ranging from simple cleaning and repair to trail building and playground installation.
South by Southwest (SXSW)
Austin • 512-467-7979 • www.sxsw.com
South by Southwest (SXSW) offers the unique convergence of original music, independent films and emerging technologies. Fostering creative and professional growth alike, SXSW has been a premier destination for discovery for the last 25 years.
Rodeo Austin – Star of Texas Fair & Rodeo
Austin • 512-919-3000 • www.rodeoaustin.com
Founded in 1938, the Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo hosts the world’s fifth largest indoor, regular season ProRodeo event, which includes an amusement park for kids of all ages and great entertainment from artists in a range of musical genres from rock to country.
Eeyore’s Birthday Party
Austin • 512-448-5160 • www.eeyores.com
A fun event for all ages, Eeyore’s Birthday Party is an annual fundraiser that benefits a multitude of Austin nonprofit groups. Besides food, soft drinks, and beer, there are prizes for the best costume (pretty much anything goes, so be creative!), facepainting, live music, and more.
Art City Austin
Austin • 512-609-8591 • www.artallianceaustin.org
Reflecting Austin’s intense creative energy, Art City Austin is a spring celebration of the arts in the city’s popular 2ND Street District. Event includes lots of art and artists, live music, local eats, a Kid’s Block, and more.
Old Settler’s Music Festival
Austin • 512-609-8591 • www.oldsettlersmusicfest.org
The Old Settler’s Music Festival is Central Texas’ signature music event featuring Americana roots music, arts and crafts, camping, food, and more. Some of the musical genres at the Festival include acoustic jazz and blues, bluegrass, favorite local musicians, and award-winning artists from around the world.
Annual O. Henry Pun-Off World Championship
Austin • www.punpunpun.com
Celebrate the lowest form of humor in high style at the O. Henry Pun-Off World Championships, where participants “jest for a wordy cause!” This freestyle competition for punsters with prepared material allows 90 seconds “for creative have-wits from every crook and nanny to stuff their struts.” The festivities also include live music, BBQ, and a vintage book sale.
Austin Wine and Music Festival
Austin • www.austinwineandmusicfestival.com
Great music and great wine merge with seminars, vendors and more at this annual Festival held near the Domain shopping area each year.
Kerrville Folk Festival
Bastrop • 830-257-3599 • www.kerrville-music.com
This annual summer festival, which runs from May into June, features some 100 of the top folk musicians in the country. Some artists and muscial groups include 3 Penny Acre, Del Rey, Flyin’ A’s, Guy Forsyth and Ronny Cox.
Beyond the Lights Celebrity Golf Classic
Austin • 323-359-8680 • www.beyondthelights.org
Inspired by the hit TV show Friday Night Lights, the Beyond the Lights Celebrity Golf Classic raises funds to help those with spinal cord injuries. Join celebrity hosts for this fun golfing event, which includes a cocktail reception, live and silent auctions, dinner, charity presentation, and entertainment.
Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5k
Long Center, Austin • 512-524-2953 • www.keepaustinweirdfest.com
Keep Austin Weird Fest is a salute to the nonconformist in every Austinite. True to form, the event includes a variety of entertainment and events that celebrate the city’s eclectic and artistic nature, including a symphonic selection of music, family activities, weird and wacky costumes, and local food and drink vendors.
Republic of Texas Biker Rally (ROT Rally)
Austin • 512-252-9768 • www.rotrally.com
The Republic of Texas Biker Rally is the biggest motorcycle rally in Texas and one of largest motorcycle events in the U.S. Come and enjoy the amazing motorcycles and the Austin nightlife during the four-day event. The Rally is known for great music, too – past headliners have included Hank Williams Jr., Willie Nelson, Bret Michaels, Joan Jett, Paul Rogers, Steppenwolf, David Allen Coe, and Charlie Daniels.
KGSR’s Blues on the Green
Austin • www.kgsr.com/other/blues/
Bring your friends and family every other Wednesday evening between June and August to enjoy six big nights of Austin’s longest running FREE music series. Enjoy food from local restaurants, and stop by the local charity area for volunteer and donation information. Blankets, lawn chairs, dogs on leashes and children are all welcome.
H-E-B Austin Symphony July Fourth Concert and Fireworks
Austin • 512-476-6242 • www.austinsymphony.org
This yearly celebration of independence at Austin’s Town Lake is marked by music and a spectacular fireworks display. Bring a blanket and come early!
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Austin • 512-454-5766 • www.austinchronicle.com/gyrobase/Market/HotSauce
Come join this beautiful confluence of music and hot culinary delights! This spicy event is free with a donation of 3 non-perishable food items for The Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.
Austin Ice Cream Festival
Austin • 512-480-5966 • www.icecreamfestival.org
The Austin Ice Cream Festival is an event centered around family, fun and ice cream which harkens back to a time when ice cream trucks roamed the streets and running through sprinklers was an art form. Come out and enjoy contests, music and, of course, iced treats.
Batfest / Night of the Bat
Austin • 512-441-9015
This unique celebration of one of the region’s most interesting natural wonders attracts around 40,000 and features arts and crafts, music, food, bat watching, children’s activities and educational displays. Enjoy the scenic backdrop of Lady Bird Lake and downtown Austin as two million Mexican Free Tail Bats emerge for their nightly flight at this free event.
Pecan Street Festival
Austin • 512-485-3190 • www.oldpecanstreetfestival.com
The Pecan Street Festival, held in both spring and fall, has been an Austin tradition for more than 30 years. The show features local artisans who display and sell homemade art and craftwork. Festival attendees can find paintings, sculpture, woodwork, candles, jewelry, cowboy hats, clothes, home decor, games and other useful and whimsical household items.
Auditorum Shore • 800 West Riverside Drive • www.trirock.competitor.com
Now part of the Land Rover TriRock Triathlon Series, the Austin Triathlon is an annual, world-class event that attracts top local and international athletes and spectators.
Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL Fest)
Zilker Park • 2100 Barton Springs Road • 512-505-4483 • www.aclfestival.com
This annual, three-day musical event brings home the city’s nickname as the Live Music Capital of the World with a huge array of artists from local and international stages. In all, the ACL Festival hosts more than 130 acts playing rock, indie, country, folk, electronic and more on Zilker Park’s eight stages, with more than 70,000 fans that attend each day.
Austin Chocolate Festival
Austin • 512-637-0479 • www.austinchocolatefestival.com
Finally! A chocolate event that’s guilt-free! The Austin Chocolate Festival is a nonprofit fundraiser for local charities that consists of local chocolatiers and chocolate experts, including restaurants, bakeries, chocolatiers, patisseries, authors, and catering companies. The vendors compete against each other in several categories, as well as offer samples and yummy products for sale.
Austin Film Festival
Austin • 512-478-4795 • www.austinfilmfestival.com
The Austin Film Festival furthers the art and craft of filmmaking by “inspiring and championing the work of screenwriters, filmmakers, and all artists who use the language of film to tell a story.” This annual Austin event attracts top movie executives, producers, screenwriters, and filmmakers.
Texas Book Festival
Austin • 512-478-4795 • www.texasbookfestival.org
Established in 1995 by former First Lady Laura Bush – a former librarian and ardent literacy supporter – the Texas Book Festival celebrates authors and their contributions to the culture of literacy, ideas and imagination. This Austin event has become one of the premier literary festivals in the country, annually hosting more than 200 Texas and nationally-known authors. Approximately 40,000 visitors participate annually in a weekend of author readings and presentations, panel discussions, book signings, and musical entertainment.
Austin Celtic Festival
Austin • 512-385-1670 • www.austincelticfestival.com
The Austin Celtic Festival is the largest gathering of Celts in Central Texas. Its attractions and activities run the gambit of Celtic culture, including music, dance, athletic competitions, history, animals and artisans.
East Austin Studio Tour
Austin • 512-385-1670 • www.eastaustinstudiotour.com
Come and explore the creative enclave of East Austin in this celebration of East Austin artist studios, music, and more.
ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot
Zilker Park, Austin • 512-479-8805 • www.thundercloud.com/index.php/trot
Every Thanksgiving Day for the past 20 years, the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot five mile race has helped to raise more than a million dollars for local charities. This unique running Austin event has something for everyone, including a chip-timed five-mile run, a one-mile walk, and a Kids K.
Zilker Tree Lighting Ceremony
Zilker Park, Austin • 512-972-9867 • www.ci.austin.tx.us/zilker/zhttree.htm
It’s just not the holidays until you twirl under the Zilker Tree! Come to Zilker Park every night in December and watch the spectacle of the light of the Zilker Tree, which stands 155 feet tall and is composed of 39 streamers that hold more than 3,300 lights. A double star at the top of the tree measures 10 feet from point to point.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
Austin • 512-477-1605 • www.armadillobazaar.com
Celebrating its 38th season in 2013, the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar is an Austin, Texas tradition with an incredible selection of original work made right here in Austin by some 160 artists and artisans – from affordable gifts to high-end art. It’s the city’s favorite shopping party, complete with live music and a full bar. Gift givers, art collectors and music lovers can grab a beer, dance a bit and have fun while they shop at the event.
North Pole Flyer
Cedar Park • 512-477-8468 • www.austinsteamtrain.org
The Austin Steam Train Association helps Santa Claus and Mrs Claus celebrate Christmas aboard the North Pole Flyer (Most weekends in December). This 2- to 2-1/2 hour round-trip holiday celebration train ride is sure to please young and old alike as they experience the train's own Christmas story.