Austin festivals offer eclectic, unique experiences

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Members of the crowd sported a collection of animal masks during M83’s set at the Barton Springs stage at the 2012 Austin City Limits Music Festival. 

Photo Credit: Pu Ying Huang | Daily Texan Staff

There are a lot of nicknames for the city of Austin, but perhaps the most appropriate one might be the City of Festivals. It is hard to spend a weekend in the city without happening upon some sort of organized music, art or film festival. Each one attracts its own crowd and each one has its own distinct personality. There are three big festivals that stand out on the extensive list of Austin events.

Austin City Limits

Two things happen during the weekend of the Austin City Limits Music Festival: Music fans spend three days braving the dust, mud, crowds and heat in Zilker Park, and other Austinites flee the city to escape the mayhem of the music festival. ACL brings people from all across the country to the city’s beloved metropolitan park, but the festival is practically a rite of passage for locals. If you have never attended a fest before, this one is a good introduction. The heat will make you question the decision to leave the quiet, air-conditioned sanctuary of your dorm room or apartment but as soon as you “ride the rail” at the show of one of your new favorite artists, all of the heat exhaustion and probable dehydration will be worth it. The only truly bad thing about ACL are the post-music festival blues you will experience the next week.

 

Fun Fun Fun Fest

If ACL is the kid who shows up looking perfect on the first day of school, Fun Fun Fun Fest is the cool kid in the back row you become friends with by the first exam. Fun Fun Fun Fest’s more alternative lineup attracts a more alternative crowd. Metalheads in moshing gear walk among tall, glamorous women in sunhats. Everyone is welcome at Auditorium Shores for a weekend of music, skateboarding and comedy performances. The crowds are large enough to make securing a spot on the front row feel exclusive, but small enough to sit down in the grass and enjoy some local food between acts. This is the eighth year for the fest, making it one of Austin’s newest music festivals. If the prices and crowds scare you away from ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest serves as a less overwhelming and more affordable alternative. 

If ACL is the kid who shows up looking perfect on the first day of school, Fun Fun Fun Fest is the cool kid in the back row you become friends with by the first exam. Fun Fun Fun Fest’s more alternative lineup attracts a more alternative crowd. Metalheads in moshing gear walk among tall, glamorous women in sunhats. Everyone is welcome at Auditorium Shores for a weekend of music, skateboarding and comedy performances. The crowds are large enough to make securing a spot on the front row feel exclusive, but small enough to sit down in the grass and enjoy some local food between acts. This is the eighth year for the fest, making it one of Austin’s newest music festivals. If the prices and crowds scare you away from ACL, Fun Fun Fun Fest serves as a less overwhelming and more affordable alternative. 

 

 

South By Southwest

The granddaddy of all Austin festivals. South By Southwest is 10 days of such chaos and calamity, you feel like you deserve a medal at the end for surviving. You will end up walking home from downtown at 2 a.m. at least once. The rumor trail and the quest for free shows will drive you out of bed every morning, despite your swollen feet. The shows you were most looking forward to will end up being only OK, while the ones you just happen upon will end up being your absolute favorites. By the time it is over, you will feel like you need a spring break to recover from SXSW. The only way to avoid SXSW is by leaving Austin altogether, which some people do. This is another festival that is a rite of passage for all UT graduates. You may not attend the whole festival, but every local should spend at least one day hopping from party to party and looking for celebrities downtown.