About This Festival
If South by Southwest is a single hipster in skinny jeans toting a Pabst Blue Ribbon, the Austin City Limits Festival (ACL) is that same hipster in a few years; married, in relaxed-fit jeans, with a kid or two—and still probably toting that PBR. Born out of the PBS concert series of the same name, this is a festival for serious music fans.
Setting the Stage at the Austin City Limits Festival
Celebrating its 12th anniversary, Austin City Limits has grown in size every year, taking over the 351-acre Zilker Park, the crown jewel of Austin’s public green spaces. While the annual celebration focuses mostly on rock, pop and jazz, it still hosts everything in between, and has attracted world-famous acts including Arcade Fire, Florence+The Machine and Jack Johnson.
Due to sellouts (tickets anyone?) every year, ACL expanded to two weekends in 2013, with the lineup duplicated over both weekends. This kind of gracious gesture is consistent with the accommodating vibe of this festival and of Southern hospitality in general. This isn’t an edgy dip into excess like Coachella or a boozy hunt for the next big thing like SXSW; Austin City Limits Festival is that rare event that has grown without losing its roots, remaining an extension of the city and the cultural values it espouses. At its heart and soul, ACL is about the music and the fans, with an emphasis on a family-friendly good time.
ACL offers multiple stages (8 in total) and activities on its amazing lineup and schedule of performances. Rock music is definitely at the heart of the festival, with past headliners like Foo Fighters and The Strokes.If you’re not into whoever’s performing at the time, there’s plenty going on around the park, including the ACL Art Market, featuring handmade wares from local artisans, and Austin Kiddie Limits, featuring family-geared bands and karaoke.
A Well-Oiled Music Machine
The Austin City Limits Festival gets about 75,000 attendees a day, and is something of a virtual city with water-filling stations, local food vendors and an on-site brewery featuring local Texas beers. The festival is extremely well organized and what many call “honest.” There is no service charge on the tickets; performances start and finish on time; the grounds are set up so it’s easy to bounce around between the eight stages; food prices are fair; and you can get an affordable beer without waiting in line and missing half a musical act.
Even when the last act takes the stage, that doesn’t mean you have to call it a night. Austin reigns as the live music capital of the world (check out the world-famous Stubb’s), and you’ll find some of the nation’s best food (including Texas BBQ) here, too.
Austin has a reputation for liberalism and bohemia in the midst of the more conservative South, and as such, ACL promotes the city’s unique stature through a green, sustainable festival open to everyone in the community. If you’re a live-music lover looking for a great festival that has the energy of SXSW but not the crazed masses, we recommend checking out ACL.