Austin’s Best Free Summer Events
From museums to live music to yoga to bats, Austin has it all
By Mazzy Oliver Smallwood,
7:00AM, Fri. Jul. 15, 2022
Whether you’re a tourist on a budget or a local looking for some free summer fun, Austin has tons of unique options. From decades-long traditions to new favorites, Austin’s lineup of free live music and events in the worlds of art, yoga, and theatre have something for everyone.
Every Thursday through August 11
Doors open at 6:30pm and music starts at 8pm
Hartman Concert Lawn
Enjoy some live music at the scenic Long Center, a performing arts center with a spectacular view of the Downtown Austin skyline. With “the tunes, the drinks, and the view” provided, the concert series is the perfect environment to chill out on a picnic blanket. Past performers have included local Americana artist David Ramirez and local alternative soul-pop band Sweet Spirit. Announcements of who is playing each week will be posted on ACL Radio and the Long Center’s social media every Friday. Free tickets can be reserved starting the Monday before each show.
Laguna Gloria Open Late
6pm on Thursdays
Bring a flashlight and take a self-guided tour through the forested grounds of the Contemporary Austin’s sculpture park and art-in-nature site. Also keep an eye and an ear out for owls, and see the beautiful view of Lake Austin under the moonlight. Enjoy discounted happy hour specials at the cafe. All ages are welcome. Free advance ticket reservations are recommended.
Congress Avenue Bridge is the summer home of 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats. Every night at sunset between late March and early fall, the bats take off from underneath the bridge to begin their nightly flight. The best free vantage points are on the Congress Avenue Bridge, at the Statesman Bat Observation Center, or on the Butler Hike-and-Bike Trail.
The Blanton Museum of Art
Free admission every Thursday, 10am-5pm
Located on the University of Texas campus, the museum features a permanent collection of European art dating back to 1350, pottery and sculptures dating back to Ancient Rome, one of the most comprehensive collections of Latin American art in the country, more than 4,000 works of modern and contemporary art, and Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin, a monumental stone building with colored-glass windows designed to be “a site for joy and contemplation.” The museum also offers public tours on a first-come, first-served basis, and more events.
Music at Central Market
Upscale grocery store Central Market’s Westgate and North Lamar locations feature regular concerts by local musicians in a variety of genres from jazz to salsa to bluegrass. Browse the store for a snack, or pick up a meal from the cafe, and enjoy the show. At the North Lamar location families can enjoy music on the patio while the kids play on the playscape. Keep an eye out for upcoming events and announcements on the Central Market Events ATX Instagram.
Zilker Theatre Productions: Newsies
Thursday-Sunday through August 13, 8:15pm
Zilker Hillside Theatre
Based on the real-life newsboys’ strike of 1899, this Disney movie-turned-stage musical tells a timeless story of labor organization and coming of age. Newsies is the latest in the Zilker Summer Musical series, an Austin tradition that dates back to 1959. Bring a picnic blanket or folding chair. Leave all pets and alcoholic beverages at home. More information on rules for attendance can be found here.
Blues on the Green
Tuesday & Wednesday, July 19 & 20
Blues on the Green is an annual summer concert series put on by Austin City Limits Radio in Austin’s most iconic metropolitan park. Local Southern soul and swamp-funk band Shinyribs is playing on July 19 with Tomar & the FCs, and blues, funk, and soul group Black Joe Lewis & the Honeybears is playing July 20 with Mélat. Dress for the heat and don’t forget your sunscreen, water bottle, picnic blanket, and other essentials. Food and beverages will be available from vendors such as Austin’s Pizza, Black’s Barbecue, Amy’s Ice Creams, and more. Keep in mind that you are not allowed to street-park in the neighborhoods near Zilker and towing will be enforced. More information on parking and public transportation options can be found here. Dogs on leashes and children are welcome.
Austin’s Pride Parade
August 20, 8pm-11pm
If you missed your city’s Pride in June or you haven’t had enough queer community spirit, come down to Austin, where Pride is in August! While the festival has a $20 entrance fee, the parade from the Texas State Capitol Building to the Congress Avenue Bridge is free.
Red River Cultural District Presents Hot Summer Nights 4
Free music festival Downtown
Come down to the Red River Cultural District, a cultural tourism and entertainment district Downtown, for four nights of free music spread out between nearby venues like Cheer Up Charlies and Empire Control Room.
Austin Free Day of Yoga
This Labor Day, participating studios across Austin will be opening their doors for free classes for all ages and experience levels. Take this opportunity to discover a new hobby, meet a new instructor, and immerse yourself in the Austin yoga scene. A full list of participating studios is available here.
Pecan Street Festival
Honoring the original name of Sixth Street from back before Austin’s east-west streets were numbered, the Pecan Street Festival is a huge arts, crafts, and music festival put on in support of the preservation of historic Sixth Street. The festival hosts a wide variety of local vendors selling paintings, jewelry, clothing, woodwork, photography, street food, and more. Check out the full lists of vendors and musicians.
Starting in 1988, Austin Museum Day is a community event offering free admission to art, history, and science museums and cultural spaces across Austin, as well as free special programs and activities.
Sept. 9, 2022
Aug. 12, 2022
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