It’s April and the SXSW madness is long gone. But now that Austin is getting showered with a plethora of festivals, how can you know which one is right for you? Don’t worry; we’ve got your back. After looking into the most popular festivals in and around the Live Music Capital, we’ve put together this list to try and make festival planning a little easier. Mark your calendar, rest up and get pumped!
Old Settler’s Music Festival (April 16th-19th – Salt Lick BBQ Pavilion)
Want to go to a festival whose name makes you sound like an 1849 prospector? Then mosey on down to the Old Settler’s Music Festival to join beer-guzzling hippies who’d prefer to kick back rather than crowd-surf. Old Settler’s levels the playing field between an older generation bound to lawn chairs and a younger one keen on wandering through campsites. This festival boasts surprises every year, so if you aren’t enamored with the idea of Grateful Dead’s Bill Kreutzmann waking you up in the middle of the night to jam at your campsite, then this one isn’t for you.
Austin Reggae Festival (April 17th-19th – Auditorium Shores)
If you haven’t been in Austin for very long, you may be puzzled if an older resident talks about Marley Fest by Town Lake. Although it’s now officially referred to as Austin Reggae Festival, this musical event has remained a mainstay at Auditorium Shores by Lady Bird Lake (We know, we know…). While the cost of tickets has steadily increased from a donation of canned food to $20, it’s still a perfect place to fill your dreadlocks with pollen! Highly recommended for pre-college teenagers.
Untapped Beer and Music Festival (April 18th – Carson Creek Ranch)
Sometimes it’s not all about the music. If you want to brew up a conversation with hopheads for hours on end in an environment completely devoid of light beer, then Untapped Beer and Music Festival is right up your alley. A past festival attendee said Untapped was a place “where newly minted techie-bros-turned-beer-snobs will be turned off by that ‘weird emo band,’ resume getting drunk, fall asleep during Phosphorescent, and wake up for Gary Clark, Jr.” You’re guaranteed to have a good time, just as long as you don’t mention PBR or Lone Star.
21st Annual Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival (April 25th – Austin American Statesman Lot)
Time to put that phony French accent to good use! Whether your nickname in high school was “Swamp Thing” or you just really like Cajun food, then you’ll go boudain for the 21st Annual Crawfish Festival. What better way to enjoy ten Louisiana bands than by eating crawfish, jambalaya, and fried alligator out of a Styrofoam container in a parking lot? Let’s “geaux!”
Eeyore’s Birthday Party (April 25th – Pease Park)
Oh, bother. Your mom went to this festival in the ‘80s and told you it was the “hippest, most rad thing ever.” Only at Eeyore’s Birthday Party can children of all ages (mostly bearded “children”) partake in costume contests, maypole rituals, and getting their faces painted like a tiger. Along with free admission, soft drinks, and henna tattoos, Eeyore’s is perfect for the younger festivalgoer. If this isn’t your cup of tea, grab a stool across the street and people watch; you’ll be glad you did.
Old Pecan Street Festival (May 2nd-3rd – Sixth Street)
Need a festival in between other festivals, just because? Were you upset with the lack of petting zoos and street magicians during SXSW? At Old Pecan Street Festival you can completely rearrange your diet around lemonade and corn dogs as you wander between three stages and over sixty local acts in Austin’s charming Sixth Street Historic District. This tent-filled event is family-friendly but once the sun goes down, you’re on your own.
Levitation (May 8th-10th – Carson Creek Ranch)
Here’s a festival so dedicated to the celebration of psychedelic rock that the coordinators inexplicably changed the name from the relatively straightforward “Austin Psych Fest” to something even more far out. While Levitation Fest is much more low-key than Woodstock, every single attendee we’ve spoken to has hailed the “amazing lineup” every single year without fail. However we’re not entirely sure how much of that can be attributed to the varied levels of mental exploration present at Levitation.
Kerrville Folk Festival (May 21st-24th – Quiet Valley Ranch)
What if Burning Man was low key? What if Old Settler’s was more country? If you want to folk around with some of Austin’s oldest festivalgoers, then make your way to the land of retired millionaires for the Kerrville Folk Festival! This is your opportunity to camp alongside more experienced trippers and enjoy a wide variety of music in between hill country bike rides and canoe outings. Just remember to double check the water’s pH level before you drink it…
We couldn’t cover every festival in the next couple months (believe us, there are plenty more to consider), but we did come up with some festivals we’d like to see in the future:
Roasted Nuts Festival (because why not?), Ill-Fitting Neon T-Shirt Fest (you know who you are), Shaved Puppy Festival (puppies get hot in the summer, don’t they?), Overt Nostalgia Fest (formerly “Austinite Entitlement Fest”), and Kids Unleashed Fest (where you can unleash the beast and grab a glass of wine!) See you there!
– Jack Anderson