This is my third year to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival, now in its seventh year, and I am looking forward to the predicted slightly cooler temps, as well as a stellar lineup. The always-eclectic collection of musical talent (from Vampire Weekend to Gnarls Barkley to Robert Plant & Alison Krauss to Manu Chao) suits my far-and-wide-ranging tastes. If you’re going for one day or all three, here’s some of my favorite tips to enhance your enjoyment and comfort. The ACL Fest site covers the basics and Austin360.com has helpful advice as well.
Ice is nice: I’ll credit my daughter, Lucy for this one: We’ve bought ice for $1 a cup at beverage stands (either soft drink or beer stands; last year I was only able to get it at beer stands). In the heat of the fest, a cup of ice can be a lifesaver and so versatile: for dissolving cubes in your mouth, drinking the melted ice water (cheaper and cooler than buying bottled!), dousing down your neck or back, or even sticking your face in the cup and breathing into it. I once survived a sweltering Brazilian Girls dance-music set in the WaMu tent this way!
Another cooling-off trick, from my friend Peach: ice wrapped in a scarf or bandana and tied around your neck provides wearable chilling relief.
AT&T Digital Oasis tent: Great for a cool stroll in the air-conditioned, mini-tech mecca. The last two years I’ve been to the fest, AT&T has given away hand-held, battery-powered plastic mini-fans. Not sure if they’ll have them this year with the emphasis on greener giveways, but who knows?
Eat early and often: I’ve noticed that the long dinnertime lines form from 5:30 ’til just before the 8 p.m. headliners take the stage, so grab an early dinner around 4-5 and go back for ice cream later. This year, Aquarelle, Vespaio/Enoteca, P. Terry’s burgers and El Chilito join the already sumptuous menu, with fest-friendly wraps and other portable meals from Hudson’s on the Bend, Saba, Stubb’s, Wahoo’s Fish Tacos and many other local Austin dining faves. I usually get a fish taco from Saba or Wahoo’s (whichever line is shorter) but I look forward to trying these new options.
Chair or no chair: I don’t bring one ’cause I like to move around, but if you prefer to have a seat, note that some stages have designated chair zones farther from the stage. And there’s a chair check-in area if you don’t want to lug it around when you want to get closer to the music.
Getting there: Besides the free ACL fest parking shuttle from Republic Square (in most cases parking downtown is not free), and biking there, here are some other options: take a bus route that goes to or near the Lamar/Barton Springs Rd. intersection. From there, it’s a 10-15 minute walk to the fest. Please note that Sunday night bus schedules for most routes end around 9 p.m. Also, a couple of pay parking options: the Palmer/Long Center parking garage on Barton Springs Rd. Last year they were charging $10; today I noticed the electronic sign in front announcing the fest parking but didn’t see the cost. And on Friday after 5 p..m. ($10) and all day Saturday ($20) Austin High School will allow festgoers to park in their lot to raise funds for their marching band. (A great deal for a worthy organization!)
I hope these tips help enchance your ACL Fest experience.