Tips From A Local About How to Approach, Enjoy and Even Really Love ACL Fest 2015

October 7, 2015

Photo from ACLFestival.

Well it’s that time of year around here. We’ve made it to another weekend of Austin City Limits Music Fest.  I think this is possibly our fifth year to go, and we kind of have a love/hate relationship with it.  I love it, and my husband hates, well, parts of it. But no matter your chosen emotion, there is definitely something for everyone there…and there are a lot of everyones there.


For those who don’t know, ACL is a big music festival with six main stages for music of all kinds– alt rock, hip hop, rap, country, etc.  It spans three days, and is staged in Zilker Park in the heart of Austin. A few years back they (thankfully) moved it from September to October, so we have decent weather now, but you can still read that as HOT…and you should.


Every year they say there are 70K people in attendance, however every year they report actual numbers around 100K.  So, there are certain times of the day that can get very crowded.  (Earlier in the day, shown above, it’s completely great.) (Later in the day, shown below, it starts to fill up.) (And then in the late afternoon/evening…well…see for yourself.)


When heading in that direction, park where you can or carpool, and then ride your bike to the park…or someone else’s bike (there are pedicabs everywhere).  We take our whole family, and treat it like a staycation, and this year was especially great. Here is the breakdown of what we loved, and my tips for those attending the second weekend!

What to take:

Camelback (you can fill with ice but can only fill with water once you are in the park), sunscreen, extra toilet paper, Advil, allergy meds, battery packs and chargers, hat, sunglasses, light sweater, go cashless with your wristband.  We take the folding chairs with built-in shade.  We like to sit back in the chair sections with more room and a little less sound.  If you like to head into the mix, then you might just want to have a small towel or blanket for the occasional time you want to sit down.


What to wear:

Hat, sunglasses, lightweight shorts and shirt or tank top, flip flops (Birkenstocks if you can- lots of walking), pony tail holder for long hair.  It gets hot especially in the middle of the day with no breeze, so you need to dress for when it feels like it is 100 degrees.  Light dresses work as well if you don’t sit on the ground.  This all changes if it is rainy.  Then, you will need rain boots, a poncho, an umbrella, etc.  Definitely avoid cotton in the rain.  If you are trying to be all in fashion here, then it looks like you should wear high-waisted booty shorts, lots of fringe and leather boots.  This looks like the most uncomfortable festival wear to me, but to each his own.  Hippy chic is what the kids like to wear these days!


What to eat:

Damn!  ACL Eats is always super fun!  My annual must-have is from Chilantro- the Kimchee Fries with Korean BBQ Beef on fries with kimchee and a creamy siracha sauce.  This was perfection with the Breckenridge Agave Wheat beer from the Craft Beer Tent.  We also loved what East Side King was throwing down- Brussel Sprout Salad (roasted, fresh and a little spicy), Pork Belly Steamed Buns (crispy pork, soft buns and fresh herbs and spicy sauce), and Karage Chicken (fried chicken pieces with pickled vegetables, fresh herbs and jalapenos).  


I was also digging on the Real Ale Hans Pils from the beer tent.  The fresh lemonade from Shade Tree Lemonade was so refreshing.  The kids ate their weight in burgers from PTerrys as well as pizza rolls from Austin’s Pizza.  


Who we loved:

Nate Ruess- lead singer of F.U.N.- He had great energy to match that great voice.

Brandon Flowers- lead singer of The Killers- another one with a great voice.

George Ezra- who hasn’t heard this guy?

Foo Fighters- pillars of rock n roll, no?  Keep healing, Dave!  Thanks for rocking it out in Austin!

The Wind and the Wave


Twenty One Pilots- great show, great music…feels like musical slam poetry

Walk the Moon- perhaps our favorite show of the whole weekend!  Try not to dance!

Sheppard- tied for WTM for our favorite show- fantastic energy and they are too adorable!

The Decemberists- my son loved this show!

Of Monsters and Men- we love so many of their songs- must see for my crew.

Hozier- He put on a great show, and it was packed.

So, if you are up for weekend two, then you have our report of weekend one.  Some of them will not be there, but some new folks will be.  Those I would add if I were heading out for this weekend:  Gary Clark, Jr., Florence and the Machine.  


Have fun, party people!  

Kristin Paull is a long-time Austin resident who attends ACL Fest every year. She almost always has extra snacks, sunscreen and water. You can count on her. You can also read more about Kristin here. 

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