Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines. Fall is crazy busy with stuff to do. Events for readers, race fans, families and film buffs join music, comedy and beer gatherings for Austinites of all persuasions. Thank goodness for October's Austin Yoga Festival following the rush of September events, we're all going to need to recalibrate our chi in preparation for November.
Lights.Camera.Help. Film Festival
Scottish Rite Theater and Texas Spirit Theater at Bullock State History Museum
I know it sounds like something awful happened to a director just before he was about to yell "action!" but the "Help" in this festival's title refers to the content — what the producers call the "films-for-a-cause" genre. Since 2009, the festival has awarded more than $7,000 to a variety of represented nonprofit organizations.
Austin Pride Festival
What starts with a 5K run, ends with a parade and has music, carnival games, DJs, a pet parade and lots of food in between? Aw, you've heard this one, haven't you? Don your gay apparel and run through the streets of downtown, celebrate by Lady Bird Lake and march among floats down Congress Avenue from the Capitol through the Warehouse District as the APF celebrates diversity and community.
Old Pecan Street Festival
East Sixth Street
Party central on weekend nights, East Sixth Street goes all family-friendly a couple of times a year, when kiddie trains and other rides whirl and twirl around more than 600 participants and activities include artisans, musicians, a petting zoo and booths and booths full of things-to-eat-on-a-stick. This is where I first had my kids' picture taken with Leslie!
Austin Gay & Lesbian International Film Festival
The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz, Paramount and Stateside theaters and the Violet Crown Cinema host mainstream and avant-garde features and shorts by old hands and first-time directors. In its 25th year, AGLIFF includes panels on political and social topics relevant to the LGBTQI (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer or questioning and intersex) community. There's probably something for everybody at this event, going by the increasing number of letters in that acronym.
Texas Craft Brewers Festival
Nearly 30 state breweries wil slake thirsts with more than 100 brews, including seasonal and special releases. Beer and ale are the stars here, but nonalcoholic beverages will be available with the food and live music. There are also "beer education sessions" and "food and beer pairings" for beer snobs in training. TCBF is produced by the Young Men's Business League. Proceeds benefit Austin Sunshine Camps.
Zilker Metropolitan Park
Out-of-towners get up close and personal with locals for three days of peace and love and either dust or mud, depending on the weather. We want our visitors to have a good time, but just shy of a good enough time that they want to move here. This year's lineup includes Neil Young and Florence + the Machine. If this park is rockin', don't bother knockin' — there's not really a door, per se, and nobody would hear you over The Black Keys anyway. This is much more fun than that other ACL Festival — the one that celebrates the anterior cruciate ligament of the human knee.
Austin Film Festival & Screenwriters Conference
(Hey, have you read my screenplay?) Downtown and South Congress will be buzzing with writers by day (Can I run my pitch by you?) and movie buffs by night (It's a remake of a reboot of a re-imagining!) during this annual celebration of all things film and television (Hey, is that Kate Hudson? She'd be perfect for the lead!). Panels, contests and screenings abound, and celeb sightings are routine. While writers are a more orderly, less annoyingly hipsterish lot than your SXSW attendees, they still tend to walk and text, so be careful driving downtown that week.
Austin Beer Week
Remember that Texas Craft Brewers Festival a couple of weeks ago? Not if you did it right, you don't. Oh, snap! Well, if your buzz is fading, what promoters call "nine days of liquid love" awaits. Tastings, pairings and the "Beer Olympics" (thankfully not confined to once every four years!) give an Oktoberfest feel to more than 40 venues citywide.
Austin Yoga Festival
Palmer Event Center
Twist and shout! OK, it's more like twist and chant if you do it right (nobody needs another Anterior Cruciate Ligament Fest). Enjoy music and join in your pick of more than 50 workshops, classes, films and other presentations for newbies and old (downward) dogs alike. A free marketplace area offers information on alternative medicine and wellness as well as cooking demos, but I'm guessing any pretzels will be of the human variety.
Texas Book Festival
State Capitol Building
Remember books? They're like analog versions of your e-reader ... does that help? In an age of apps and iPads, some people still embrace the outdated technology. You can rub elbows with 40,000 them at the TBF, started in 1995 by former librarian (and, oh, first lady) Laura Bush. Readings and author presentations, panel discussions, book-signings and musical entertainment at the State Capitol have provided $2.5 million in grants to 616 Texas public libraries since the festival's inception.
Fun Fun Fun Fest
Face it — you haven't been promised fun to the third power since the glory days of the Beach Boys (and that all ended when your stupid dad took your T-bird away). While popular acts including Run DMC and Edward Sharpe & The Magnetic Zeros threaten the laid-back Fest's underground cred, there's still plenty of tuneful obscurity to be found. And renowned comics such as David Cross and Wyatt Cenac provide laughs along with locals including Duncan Carson and 2012 Funniest Person in Austin winner Ramin Nazer. Throw in a veggie hot dog-eating contest, wrestling and something called a taco cannon and it sounds like fun fun fun to me.
2012 Formula One United States Grand Prix
Not far from Austin-Bergstrom International Airport in southeastern Travis County, construction workers are feverishly building a 3.4-mile track on about 1,000 acres with capacity for 120,000 fans. And those fans are expected to come from all over the globe to enjoy the circuit's inaugural Formula One race. Much of the transportation to and from the facility should be by shuttle buses leaving from two locations — the corner of 15th and Trinity streets in downtown Austin and the Travis County Exposition Center at 7311 Decker Lane — but since race-goers' accommodations might extend from Waco to San Antonio, area traffic could be as treacherous as that on the track.