The annual Austin City Limits Music Festival is coming up for two weekends next month (Oct 5-7 and Oct 12-14). With headliners Paul McCartney, Metallica and Childish Gambino, this year’s lineup promises a good show. But the music is just part of it—surviving the crowds and the heat is key to a great experience. So whether you’re a seasoned pro or this is your first fest, we’ve got the tips and tricks to help you maximize the good times.
Plan Your Approach
Let’s start with the basics—how are you going to get to Zilker Park? If you think you’re driving, think again. There’s no parking at the fest, and surrounding neighborhoods all have strict parking requirements (with barricades). Plan to carpool with friends in a ride share or take a bus, bike or scooter. There’s also a free Official Festival Shuttle—get on at Republic Square Park at the corner of 4th & Guadalupe streets, and you’ll be dropped off on Barton Springs Road outside the Barton Springs West Entrance. Easy-peasy!
Dress for the Fest
Every year, we see ladies limping through the grass in wedges and knee-high boots, and we think, did no one tell them ACL is in an actual park? The festival takes up much of Zilker Park’s 350 acres, mostly on uneven terrain. Yes, style matters, but wear comfortable walking shoes, and bring a hat and sunscreen (not aerosol). Festival pros often bring or wear a swimsuit for a mid-fest dip in Barton Springs.
Carry the Essentials
Lotion sunscreen. Earplugs. Hand gel. Money for food and drinks. Your phone. A mobile phone charger pack. Backpacks aren’t allowed this year—now bags are restricted to small purses, totes and drawstring bags only. Bag size can’t exceed 14” x 11” x 5” (35cm x 28cm x 12cm), or 30 linear inches (75cm) in total, and must have no more than one singular pocket or opening. Backpacks and bags with multiple pockets are prohibited.
Fuel Up & Stay Hydrated
Gates open at 11 a.m. and close at 10 p.m., which is a long day when you’re walking and dancing. Avoid getting hangry—you can’t bring coolers or food into the festival, but lots of good local eats are available for purchase . Water stations also make it easy to stay hydrated—bring empty hydration packs (smaller than 18 L) and empty water bottles (plastic or aluminum). Be aware that for CamelBak-type water bottle, the max size is 36 oz.
Let Your (Freak) Flag Fly
Spotting all the crazy flags is one of the highlights of ACL festival—and a classic way to try to tell your friends where you’re standing (“We’re between the blow-up unicorn and giant Bill Murray head”). Rules say you can bring one up to 12 feet in height, so get to crafting—you’re guaranteed to meet new people and avoid getting lost.