Everybody knows that the Austin City Limits Music Festival is one of the most important annual music events in Austin. It’s a huge attraction for the people who live here, but also a big draw for tourists from the rest of Texas and beyond. This year is no different. With headliners like Radiohead, Kendrick Lamar, Mumford & Sons and LCD Soundsystem, this year’s ACL Fest 2016 is sure to be a success. Lesser known but still popular artists like M83, Nathanial Rateliff & the Nightsweats, Andrew Bird, Kacey Musgraves, Margo Price and The Chainsmokers are all acts that have strong festival followings. Plus Austin and greater Texas music is represented as well, with acts like Asleep at the Wheel, Lincoln Durham, Bayonne, Walker Lukens, Shane Smith & the Saints, Gina Chavez, NAWAS, Wild Child, and, of course, Willie Nelson.
As usual, there are several different stages across the whole of Zilker Park, with different bands and musicians playing concurrently, spread across a variety of genres over three days. And also as expected, the food this year is going to be just as good as it has been before. ACL has moved way beyond your typical “festival food,” and you can choose from such local eateries like Austin’s Pizza, Chi’Lantro BBQ, Lambas Indian Kitchen, East Side King, Mickleththwait Barbeque, Wholly Cow, Tiff’s Treats, Trudy’s and many others. Remember that you can activate your wristband to go cashless at ACL. When you get your wristband, you can connect it to a credit card and use your wristband to pay for food, drinks and merchandise at nearly every place in the park, meaning you can leave your wallet securely at home.
If you’re a parent who’s debating whether to bring or leave the kids, bring them! ACL is absolutely kid-friendly. First of all, kids 10 and under get in free with their wrist-banded parents. There’s a special stage just for young festival-goers from 11 a.m.-5 p.m. There are also special activities just for kids– in years past they’ve included petting zoos, stations to make your own music video, face painting, hip-hop workshops, music lessons and art.
All this being said, my favorite part about ACL isn’t just the music. Yes, it’s a great opportunity to see a wide range of bands and musicians all in one weekend, a chance to catch bands you already love, and discover new acts you might not have heard of yet, all while enjoying beautiful Zilker Park, good food and drinks and hanging out with friends. But ACL has also made it a point in the last several years to support the local community and causes they care about. Most people don’t realize that a portion of every ticket sold for the ACL Festival and other festival revenue go directly towards improving Austin’s parks and green spaces. In the last 10 years, ACL fans have contributed more than $20 million to the maintenance and improvement of Zilker Park and other areas in the city like Auditorium Shores, Dove Springs and Republic Square Park. The ACL Music Festival Parks Grant Program also provides direct financial support to park volunteers who have signed on as Park Adopters– people who volunteer directly in their community parks.
In addition to their support of local parks, the ACL Music Festival also supports a number of local nonprofits aimed at our music culture in Austin, like the Austin Music Foundation, Anthropos Arts, MusiCares, and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians.
Tickets for the ACL Music Festival usually go fast and furiously, but a few options are still available on their site, aclfestival.com.