Nearly 50 Food, Music, & Arts Festivals to Keep You Busy This Spring
From barbecue to burlesque, something for every Austinite this season
By Alyssa Hiarker and Kimberley Jones,
3:30PM, Wed. Apr. 3, 2019
Spring is a glorious time in Austin, a three-month stretch of perfect weather and every weekend packed with music, food, and arts festivals, craft fairs, and all kinds of cultural experiences. We’ve rounded up nearly 50 to choose from; now you've got no excuse not to leave the house.
Food & Drink Festivals
Showcasing culinary talents from across Texas, Austin Food & Wine’s LIVE FIRE! is a beef-centric, live-fire food festival that features live music and wine, beer, and spirits tasting.
April 4, 7pm-9:30pm
With a mission to educate Texans about the benefits of veganism, Texas VegFest hosts a day full of speakers, vendors, interactive events, and musical performances (including LUXE and Edge of Destiny) that help them fulfill that purpose.
April 6, 11am-6pm
Sample trailer bites from Austin, Houston, and San Antonio vendors, plus a doggie play park and arcade powered by Epic Fun.
April 7, noon-5pm
Barton Creek Square Mall
Emojis Grilled Cheese Bar hosts this celebration of grilled cheese goodness. Stuff your face, play cheese tug-of-war, face off in a cook-off, compete in karaoke, and more.
April 12, 7-11pm
Featuring celebrity foodies like Andrew Zimmern, Nancy Silverton, and Aarón Sánchez, and more than 50 of Austin’s top restaurants and chefs, the Austin Food + Wine Festival gives guests access to gourmet food, wine, beer, and spirits throughout the weekend, as well as cooking demo tents, tasting sessions tents, and the always-popular Rock Your Taco event.
Attractions at this traveling, Harry Potter-inspired craft beer fest include a Lair of Secret Cider Potions, Wizards Alley, and Flying Cauldron Tavern.
Created by BBQ maestro Aaron Franklin, Mohawk owner James Moody, and Feast Portland cofounder Mike Thelin, Hot Luck combines Austin’s love for food and music with events like Al Fuego, a celebration of open-air cooking styles, and performances at Downtown clubs (including Archers of Loaf, Leftover Salmon, and PJ Morton) that come with “show snacks” provided by local vendors.
Arts & Culture Festivals
Bringing together poets from across the world, the Austin International Poetry Festival hosts poetry readings, open mics, workshops, and panels during their four-day festival that aims to “celebrate the diversity of humanity through the power of written and spoken word.”
National modern dance companies artist interviews, master classes with visiting guest artists, youth dance performances, and a Dance on Film screening are all on the lineup.
AustinVentures Studio Theater and other venues
Art City Austin is a weekend-long showcase that focuses on supporting and encouraging the growth of Austin’s art scene, as well as melding mediums. Tickets range from $15-50 and include access to featured art from installation artists, performance artists, live music performances, live culinary performances, and more.
Free community event includes music, modern dance, live painting, DJ, spoken word, expressive sign language, food trucks, and a kids zone. Benefits the Survive2Thrive Foundation, which provides support for domestic violence survivors.
Pan American Rec Amphitheater
A completely free experience, Fusebox Festival explores the idea and the abilities of live performance with installations, performances, and gatherings hosted all across downtown Austin. In order to guarantee admission into the individual installations, patrons are required to reserve their spot by purchasing free tickets on the festival website.
With headliners such as Nick Offerman, David Spade, and Jenny Slate, the main shows of the four-day experience are held at the Paramount or Stateside Theatres, with smaller “satellite” shows hosted in surrounding theatres. Lower-priced badges, such as the Satellite Badge or the Warrior Badge, will get you into the 50+ shows hosted in the satellite theatres or will grant you access to the main headlining acts in seats that have a suboptimal view.
The Austin Classical Guitar Festival focuses on exploring the beauty of creating and making music together through their performances. Alongside individual performances, the showcase features two pieces that the artists collaborate on before the Kupiński Guitar Duo takes the stage for the grand finale.
Austin Shakespeare’s long-running – and free! – Shakespeare in the Park series at Zilker Park puts on The Merchant of Venice this year.
Beverly S. Sheffield Zilker Hillside Theatre
For 13 years now, the folks in neighboring Sunset Valley – just one square mile wide – have been putting on this free event featuring local artists and artisans displaying and selling their homemade wares.
April 27, 9am-4pm
Tony Burger Activity Center
Burlesque, cabaret, and vaudeville take the stage at this annual showcase of the finest scantily clad entertainers around.
Rollins Theatre at the Long Center
The Austin Maifest, hosted by Austin Saengerrunde, is Austin’s version of the German Maifest, a celebration of the arrival of Spring. Lasting from noon-10pm, the family-friendly Austin Maifest includes a lunch cookout, happy hour, a provided dinner, as well as performances from the Czech Melody Masters, Maennerchor, and Damenchor.
May 11, 5pm-11pm
Big Medium’s totally free, 100% self-guided exploration of artists in their studios and other spaces is back.
May 11-12, May 18-19
Ego Nwodim and Amber Ruffin headline this year’s comedy sketch festival, produced by ColdTowne Theatre.
This new addition to the comedy calendar celebrates diversity in sketch, improv, and more. Confirmed troupes include ¡ESCÁNDALO!, Hot Pot Comedy, and Lucky Chaos Lion Dance.
AISD Performing Arts Center
This annual celebration of queer people of color targets the lack of spaces made for the black LGBTQ+ community and combats it by celebrating the community’s presence. Previous ABP events have included Q&A panels, art installations, and gatherings hosted at local bars.
Honoring Puerto Rican culture, the Celebrando Salsa and Heritage Festival features folklore performances, handcrafted artisans, food, and salsa dancing.
June 22, 6pm-11pm
JCC Austin Ballroom
With a stated mission to inspire and empower Latinas through music, film, art, and community, this festival and conference includes performances by La Misa Negra, Bidi Bidi Banda, Tiarra Girls, and Mariachi Las Coronelas.
Hops & Grain Brewery
Hosted in Tilmon, Tex. (just an hour drive from downtown), the Old Settler’s Music Festival is an outdoor music experience with onsite camping available for those attending. 2019 highlights include Jason Isbell and The 400 Unit in a special acoustic set, Brandi Carlile, and Galactic, as well as the return of the late-night, mellowed-out “Camp Shhtimes” sets.
Jamaican hitmakers Don Carlos, Mykal Rose, and Freddie McGregor headline the this three-day outdoor festival, which donates a portion of its proceeds to the Central Texas Food Bank to help feed hungry families.
Travis Scott and Lil Wayne headline a baker’s dozen of established and on-the-rise hip hop artists in this two-city, two-day fest kicked off on May 3 in Dallas. Proceeds from the Austin show support ATX arts nonprofit Grounded in Music.
Circuit of the Americas
Hosted by Bobby Bones, the iHeartCountry Festival celebrates country music at the Frank Erwin Center with chart-topping headliners Tim McGraw, Florida Georgia Line, and Little Big Town.
May 4, 7pm
Frank Erwin Center
A Central Texas institution, the Kerrville Folk Festival features more than 100 performers over the course of 18 days, including Ruthie Foster, Richard Thompson, and Shinyribs.
May 23-June 9
Quiet Valley Ranch
More than 30 electronic music artists – including Seven Lions and Gramatik – across three stages, live painted murals, light and sound installations.
Travis County Expo Center
Family & Community Events
Transporting medieval England to small-town Texas, the Sherwood Forest Faire spans across a sprawling 25 acres in McDade, giving the entertainers, merchants, and vendors enough space to flourish. With over 150 shows a day and over 170 artisans in attendance to sell handmade items, the festival succeeds by giving guests an immersive and intensive experience.
March 2-April 21
Bringing custom cars from all across the country to Austin, the Lonestar Round Up is a weekend-long extravaganza filled with live music and hot rods.
Travis County Expo Center
Austin Moms Blog hosts this event for new and expecting mothers. Expect parenting advice, giveaways, vendors, and breakfast and lunch provided.
April 13, 9am-1pm
Baylor Scott & White Medical Lakeway
The largest sustainability event in Central Texas, Earth Day Austin includes a rock-climbing wall, community justice hub, kids yoga, live music, vegetarian food vendors, and many, many opportunities to learn about doing better by Mother Earth.
April 13, noon-6pm
Love cats and pop culture? This two-day family-friendly convention combines both, with cat playgrounds for kids and adults, face painting and temporary tattoos, cat influencers and advocates, art workshops, and on-site adoptions.
Palmer Events Center
Repping the original moniker of Sixth Street, the Pecan Street Festival is one of the largest arts, crafts, and music festivals in the nation. With three stages for performers and numerous vendors filling the streets, the Pecan Street Festival offers attendees handmade art, music, and food options that range from crepes to funnel cakes to fresh squeezed lemonade.
Noteworthy local and national creators sell their crafts at this marketplace while shoppers can indulge in craft cocktails, a variety of food truck options, and vinyl tunes from local DJs.
May 18-19, 11am-6pm
40,000 square feet of floor space and more than a million 78s, 45s, LPs, CDs, and other music-related memorabilia for you to spend your hard-earned consumer dollars on is why the Austin Record Convention offers the largest sale of recorded music in the country. It’s only $5 for general admission, but $40 will get you in early.
Palmer Events Center
Here’s your chance to buy slime, and meet the creators and social media stars behind the addictively squishy stuff. Austin’s very first slime convention aims to empower young entrepreneurs, especially young women, in the slime industry.
May 26, 12pm-4pm
Palmer Events Center
The largest motorcycle bike rally with paid ticketed attendees in the United States, the Republic of Texas Biker Rally brings bikers and bike enthusiasts together. Tickets give guests access to the biker rally, the roller derby, micro championship wrestling, concerts, tattoo festival, and more.
Travis County Expo Center
Film/TV/Gaming/Pop Culture Festivals
Celebrating films from South Asia, the Indie Meme Film Festival 2019 lineup includes 11 features, 8 short films, Q&As with filmmakers, and parties on the opening and closing nights.
April 14 & April 26-28
Hosted at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lakeline, The Austin Comedy Short Film Festival hosts sevens hours of comedy on celluloid that are divided into two sessions with awards distributed after each one. Tickets are available for each session and cost $14 each.
Alamo Drafthouse Cinema Lakeline
Presenting narrative and documentary features and shorts, the long-running Cine Las Americas International Film Festival chooses films to highlight a diversity of themes, genres, and styles from countries across Latin America and the Iberian Peninsula.
AFS Cinema and The Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center
Lovers of analog games will want to head to the sixth annual ChupacabraCon, an intimate tabletop RPG and board game convention held in Round Rock.
Wingate by Wyndham Hotel & Conference Center
The ATX Television Festival honors the medium of television, where it’s been and where it’s going. This year’s festival includes a Greek reunion, a conversation with Phylicia Rashad, Blumhouse television panel, and first look at ABC’s new nighttime drama, Grand Hotel.
On tap for this year’s convention are a Sword Experience workshop led by Highlander actor Adrian Paul, appearances by The Fighting 788th GI Joe costuming club,Central Texas Droids, and local cosplay stars, plus illustrators, writers, and a performance by The Cybertronic Spree.
HEB Center at Cedar Park