If there is another area that has more festivals in a year than Central Texas, we would love to know where it is. And then we’d throw together a quick two-day fest in our backyard, celebrating our dog, so as to reclaim the title of Live Festival Capital of the World. We’re offering a month-by-month planning guide for the year in festivals.
Summaries of the various festivals were written by American-Statesman reporters Addie Broyles, Gary Dinges, Charles Ealy, Nancy Flores, Omar L. Gallaga, Pam LeBlanc, Peter Mongillo, Matthew Odam, Dale Roe and Jeanne Claire van Ryzin.
Frontera Fest, continues through Feb. 16: Austin’s original new theater showcase centers around the Short Fringe, a nightly showcase of new performances, all 25 minutes or less. The Short Fringe continues through Feb. 16. The Long Fringe — which features new plays — starts Monday and continues through Feb. 3. www.fronterafest.org.
Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival. Ends Sunday with tattoo contests at 2 p.m. at the Palmer Events Center on Barton Springs Road. www.golivefast.com/contentsaus.php.
MLK March and Festival, Monday. March starts at 9 a.m. at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on the University of Texas campus, continues to the Capitol for music and then ends at Huston-Tillotson University. www.mlkcelebration.com.
Rancho Alegre Conjunto Festival, Feb. 1-3: The three-day music showcase spotlighting the best in Texas conjunto music comes back for its second year at the Austin Moose Lodge #1735 in East Austin. More than two dozen acts, including legendary performers and rising stars, will take the stage. Tickets are $12 pre-sale, $15 at the door and $30 for a three-day pass. ranchoalegretexas.com.
Carnaval Brasileiro, Feb. 2. The samba beat takes over the Palmer Events Center for a one-day celebration of all things Brazilian. Tickets: $38 in advance, plus $2 online service charge. $45 at the door. www.sambaparty.com.
Livestrong Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, Feb. 17. This notoriously hilly race starts at 7 a.m. at 16th Street and Congress Avenue and heads south to Ben White Boulevard before looping back toward Lady Bird Lake, the Allandale and Hyde Park neighborhoods, the University of Texas campus, and the Capitol complex. Details at youraustinmarathon.com.
Jugglefest, Feb. 22-24. The 20th annual three-day event includes workshops, games, demonstrations, and shows featuring juggling, unicycling and related circus arts. At the Texas School for the Deaf, 1120 S. Congress Ave. Renegade Show is on Feb. 22. The Public Show is on Feb. 23. juggling.place.org.
10th Annual Texas Independence Day Parade & 5K, March 2. The 5K run up Congress Avenue starts at 8 a.m., followed by a parade at 9:30 a.m., a noon ceremony at the Capitol Rotunda and a 2 p.m. ceremony at the Joseph and Susanna Dickinson Hannig Museum. celebratetexas.org.
Explore UT, March 2. The biggest open house in Texas begins at 11 a.m. and continues through 4:45 p.m. as the public gets to know the local university. Fossil digs, fossil identification and other free activities will be held at the Texas Natural Science Center, 2400 Trinity St. Also, open houses for high school juniors and seniors, with various activities at the different schools at UT. In all, more than 400 demonstrations and activities, including a scavenger hunt and walking tours. www.utexas.edu/tmm/events/explore-ut.
85th Zilker Park Kite Festival, March 3. This festival always helps kick off spring, with hundreds of kites floating above the great yard of the city. And there’s no admission fee. Pets are welcome. www.zilkerkitefestival.com.
76th Annual Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, March 8-23. Since 1938, the rodeo has been raising money for youth scholarships. It features the worlds fifth-largest indoor, regular season ProRodeo. But there’s much more, including lots of activities and entertainment. Acts on the lineup this year include Merle Haggard, Three Dog Night, Kevin Fowler and red-hot Alabama Shakes. Prices for the ProRodeo and concerts vary. Gate admission ranges from free for 2 and younger to $8 for adults. Parking $10 per vehicle. Events are at the Dr. Charles W. Graham Western Heritage Center, 9100 Decker Lake Road, and at the Travis County Expo Center, 7311 Decker Lane. Details at rodeoaustin.com.
South by Southwest Film Conference and Festival, March 8-16. The music festival put SXSW on the map, and the Interactive portion has exploded in growth in recent years, but SXSW Film has become one of the country’s most popular film festivals thanks to diverse programming and an annual parade of big-name and emerging talents.
SXSW Film, which kicked off in 1994, has served as a launching pad for young filmmakers such as "Girls" creator Lena Dunham, whose "Tiny Furniture" won the 2010 narrative feature award, and brothers Jay and Mark Duplass, who took home the Emerging Visions prize for their 2005 road comedy "The Puffy Chair."
This year’s festival opens with over-the-top comedy "Incredible Burt Wonderstone," starring Steve Carell, Steve Buscemi and Jim Carrey. Among the conference highlights is a conversation with Matthew McConaughey, who had an incredible 2012.
SXSW will also potentially have a good selection of local material with national appeal from which to choose, including Richard Linklater’s "Before Midnight" and David Gordon Green’s "Prince Avalanche," starring SXSW alumni Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch. www.sxsw.com/film.
South by Southwest Interactive, March 8-12: The quickly growing conference about all things digital continues to ride a wave of interest in everything from social media to startups to space exploration. This year’s keynote speakers include "The Oatmeal" web comic creator Matthew Inman, design guru Tina Roth Eisenberg, Bre Pettis of MakerBot and Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. Actress Aisha Tyler will host the 16th Annual Interactive Awards show. sxsw.com/interactive.
The Neighborhood, March 11-14: Fashion event, formally known as Style X, will feature fashion and lifestyle brands, boutiques and speakers in downtown Austin. facebook.com/neighborstyle.
South by Southwest Music, March 12-17. The biggest music industry event of the year has morphed into a spring break free-for-all, with nonstop parties featuring some of the biggest acts in pop. This year marks the return of Vampire Weekend, Local Natives and Frightened Rabbit, as well as stalwarts including Alejandro Escovedo’s True Believers.
Former Nirvana and Foo Fighters member Dave Grohl will deliver the keynote address. Grohl recently directed "Sound City," a documentary about the famed California recording studio where Nirvana and many others recorded some of rock’s most cherished albums.
It’s always difficult to make predictions about SXSW music, as the festival typically doesn’t announce many of the bigger acts until the last minute; as for which unknown acts will impress, that’s a tough call, too, which is a big part of the charm of the event. sxsw.com/music.
St. Patrick’s Day Festival, March 17. Lots of music, food and dancing make this one of spring’s most lively events. Venues are still being worked out by the Celtic Cultural Center, but details are being added weekly. Adults $10. $3 for children younger than 13. stpatricksdayaustin.com.
Austin Urban Music Festival, March 29-30. This is one of Austin’s fastest-growing festivals, having recently expanded to two days. Brandy, Cupid and Anthony Hamilton are scheduled to perform. Location and ticket on-sale date to be announced soon. Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds and Boyz II Men were among last year’s performers when the event was held at Auditorium Shores. austinurbanmusicfestival.com.
Louisiana Swamp Thing & Crawfish Festival, Buda, April 6. 11 a.m. till 10 p.m. at Buda City Park, featuring music, arts and crafts, food and kids events. www.roadwayevents.com.
Statesman Capitol 10K Health & Fitness Expo, April 5-6. Pick up your race packet and check out the health and fitness vendors on hand from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. at the Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St. For more information go to www.statesman.com/s/cap10k.
The 12th Annual Lone Star Round Up, April 5-6. A celebration of hot rods and vintage cars at the Travis County Expo Center and along South Congress Avenue. www.lonestarroundup.com.
36th Annual Statesman Capitol 10,000, April 7. An annual rite of spring in Austin, the largest 10K in Texas kicks off at 8 a.m. April 7. The course weaves north on Congress Avenue, loops toward West Austin and finishes at Auditorium Shores. For more information go www.statesman.com/s/cap10k.
Texas VegFest, April 6. One of the largest vegetarian festivals in the state, back at Fiesta Gardens for the second year and showcasing veg-friendly chefs and food products. With food, entertainment, children’s activities and cooking demos. www.texasvegfest.com.
56th Annual Zilker Garden Festival, April 6-7. Includes the annual flower show, live music, lectures, kids events and food. 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. $8 adults, $4 children. Parking $5. 2200 Barton Springs Road. www.zilkergarden.org.
Texas Burlesque Festival, April 11-13. Forbidden Fruit sponsors this celebration of all things erotic. Daily tickets range for $20 to $40. At the Marchesa Hall & Theatre. 6406 N. Interstate 35. texasburlesquefestival.com.
Spring Plant Sale & Gardening Festival, April 12-14. This annual event takes place at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center, 4801 La Crosse Ave. It features tours, lectures, book-signings and more. www.wildflower.org.
Austin Jewish Film Festival, April 13-19. For a festival its size, the Austin Jewish Film Festival does an admirable job of programming thoughtful and engaging films. Last year the festival opened with "David Amram: The First 80 Years," a documentary detailing the life and career of the composer and French horn player who was integral in broadening the appeal of world music, and included a performance by Amram. The festival broadened its appeal a little last year with a screening of "Rabies," the first horror film to come out of Israel. www.austinjff.org.
Art City Austin, April 13-14. It’s an arty block party whose proceeds support local art museums. Artists’ booths and family-friendly art activities and performances take over the streets around City Hall and along Lady Bird Lake. www.artallianceaustin.org.
Cine Las Americas, April 16-21. This festival exhibits films from around the world made by or about Latinos. Last year’s festival awarded prizes to films from Puerto Rico, Ecuador, Peru, Mexico, Portugal, the United States and Canada. The 16th annual festival will feature screenings at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center (MACC) and other locations around town. www.cinelasamericas.org.
BP MS 150, April 20-21. Thousands of cyclists pedal 180 miles (yep, that whole 150 mile thing undersells this ride) from Houston to Austin in a two-day fund-raiser for the National Multiple Sclerosis Society. The ride finishes in front of the Bullock Texas State History Museum with a street festival. www.ms150.org.
Fusebox Festival. The contemporary art and performance festival brings artists from around the world for edgy plays, concerts, dance events and exhibits. Expect innovative happenings and surprising accessible creative shows. April 17-28. www.fuseboxfestival.com.
26th Annual Old Settler’s Music Festival, April 18-21. Michael Franti, Son Volt and Bob Schneider are among the acts that will perform at the Old Settler’s Music Festival when the annual roots music fest hits the Salt Lick Pavilion and Camp Ben McCulloch in Driftwood. Each year, Old Settler’s Music Fest brings back a loyal fanbase with its thriving camping scene, daytime music workshops and children’s activities. oldsettlersmusicfest.org.
Austin Reggae Festival, April 19-21. To celebrate the 20th anniversary of the annual Reggae Fest, legendary Jamaican group the Wailers will headline. The Sierra Leone Refuge All-Stars, the Skatalites and Grupo Fantasma are among the groups that have played the fest in the past. Tickets go on sale Feb. 1. austinreggaefest.com.
Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest, April 24-27. 2012’s inaugural celebration featured Austin standups and improvisers as well as bona fide comic celebrities including Seth Meyers and Aziz Ansari at venues throughout the city. This year’s effort promises to be funnier and even more odd. moontowercomedyfestival.com.
15th Annual Umlauf Garden Party, April 25. A celebration of art and culture at the garden near the intersection of Barton Springs and Robert E. Lee. www.umlaufsculpture.org.
Austin Food & Wine Festival, April 26-28. One of the city’s premier food festivals, presented by C3 Presents and Food & Wine Magazine. The festival brings in some of the country’s top chefs for cooking demos, cook-offs and mingling with the crowd. Most events are at Auditorium Shores, with some special events, such as Rock Your Taco — a celebrity chef contest – and special tastings at Republic Square Park. Chef Tim Love, one of the organizers, will be back with his special hands-on grilling demonstration, and organizers promise more grills and sessions this year. The schedule for the three-day event is expected to be released by the end of this month. www.austinfoodandwinefestival.com.
Austin Psych Fest, April 26-28. Now in its sixth year, festival organizers The Reverberation Appreciation Society (an offshoot of Austin band the Black Angels) move the fest outdoors to Austin’s Carson Creek Ranch, where those who appreciate reverb can convene with nature along with performers including the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club, Deerhunter, Tinariwen and more. $120 three-day early-bird passes on sale now. austinpsychfest.com.
Eeyore’s 50th Annual Birthday Bash, April 27. The annual celebration of all things Pooh continues in Pease Park. Starts at 11 a.m. and lasts until dark. www.eeyores.org.
West Austin Studio Tour, April 27-May 5. After years of the successful East Austin Studio Tour, organizers launched the West Austin version last year. Where’s West Austin? For this event, anywhere east of Mopac Boulevard, west of Interstate 35, south of U.S. 183 and north of Ben White Boulevard. Tour the studios of participating artists, gallery spaces and pop-up exhibits in this free self-guided tour.www.bigmedium.org.
16th Anuual Buda Wiener Dog Races, April 27-28. The title says it all. At Buda City Park. www.budalions.com.
Hill Country Film Festival, May 2-4. Now in its fourth year, the Hill Country Film Festival in Fredericksburg continues its steady growth. The 2012 festival included screenings of locally made films "Searching for Sonny" and "Sironia." www.hillcountryff.com.
Austin Fashion Week, May 3-11: Local and national designers come together to celebrate and showcase the latest in fashion with runway shows, trunk shows and parties. Austin Fashion Awards are also presented. fashionweekaustin.com.
Pecan Street Festival, Spring, May 4-5. 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. www.oldpecanstreetfestival.com.
National Wildflower Week, May 7-13. The annual celebration at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. www.wildflower.org.
Pachanga Latino Music Festival, May 10-11: From electro-cumbia to Tejano music, this festival brings the diverse sounds of Latin music to Fiesta Gardens. The fest has presented artists such as Calle 13 and Bomba Estereo. The family friendly event also features food, cultural arts, and concerts and workshops for kids. www.pachangafest.com.
36th Annual O. Henry Museum World Championship Pun-Off, May 18. Get ready to meet some wordsmiths at this event that takes place at 409 E. Fifth St. www.punpunpun.com.
Austin Sketch Fest, May 22-May 27. Each Memorial Day weekend for the past three years, scripted comedy has kicked all the crowd-working standups and on-the-spot improvisers off Austin stages in celebration of finely crafted comedic vignettes performed by local groups and national sketch comedy outfits alike. This year, Paul F. Tompkins headlines. atxsketchfest.com.
Kerrville Folk Festival, May 23-June 9. Taking place since 1972, the Kerrville Folk Folk Festival is the longest continuously running folk fest in North America. With three weeks of performances, camping, music workshops, seminars, hiking and more. Willie Nelson, Lucinda Williams, Lyle Lovett have performed at past festivals. kerrville-music.com.
Chaos in Tejas, May 30-June 2. Now in its ninth year, Chaos in Tejas, which takes place at venues throughout Austin, focuses on metal and punk, but frequently offers rock, pop, hip-hop and more. This year’s lineup includes British band the Damned and the Marked Men. $150 for a four-day pass. chaosintejas.com.
Blues on the Green, TBA. KGSR’s weekly summer-long free concert series takes place on the Great Lawn at Zilker Park. Ben Kweller, Marcia Ball and Quiet Company performed in 2012. kgsr.com/bluesonthegreen/.
ATX Television Festival, June 6-9. In its second year, the festival promises to bring even more big-name TV stars and producers to Austin, including the casts and crews of "Friday Night Lights," "Boy Meets World" and "American Dreams." atxfestival.com.
BlogHer Food 2013, June 7-8. A spinoff of the national BlogHer Conference, BlogHer Food brings together hundreds of food bloggers from around the world for two days to talk about everything from working with brands and monetizing your blog to taking better pictures. The conference moves to a different city each year, and this the first time it will be in Austin. www.blogher.com.
The Republic of Texas Biker Rally, June 13-16. Things go vroom when this fest comes to town. For details, visit www.rotrally.com.
Austin Chamber Music Festival, June-July (specific dates TBA). Pushing the boundaries beyond a typical chamber music festival, this multi-week lineup of concerts takes place in recital halls as well as live music clubs and includes new music ensembles and jazz groups as well as the usual string quartets and trios. www.austinchambermusic.org.
Rooster Teeth Expo (RTX 2013), July 5-7: The prolific creators of the popular computer-animated web series "Red vs. Blue" meet their fans in an event that attracts video gamers, filmmakers and fans of web humor. This year, the popular Spill Dot Con conference will be rolled into RTX as well. rtxevent.com.
Ice Cream Festival, Aug. 17. A family-friendly event, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. At Fiesta Gardens, with ice cream tastings and other events. www.icecreamfestival.org.
Bat Fest, Aug. 24. This will be the ninth annual event celebrating the creatures that live underneath the Congress Avenue bridge. With musical acts. 4 p.m. until midnight. www.roadwayevents.com.
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Aug. 25. The best salsa and hot sauce makers in the state convene at Fiesta Gardens for the annual contest, which draws thousands of pepperheads who come to sample some of the spiciest salsas around. www.austinchronicle.com/hot-sauce-festival.
Kerrville Wine and Music Festival, Aug. 31-Sept. 1. A condensed version of the much longer spring festival, combining music with a showcase of Central Texas wine. www.kerrville-music.com/wine_info.htm.
Out of Bounds Comedy Fest, TBA. Usually held at the end of August, this is a celebration of improv, stand-up and sketch. www.outofboundscomedy.com.
Fantastic Fest, Sept. 20-27. What began in 2005 as a small festival for film geeks has grown into the nation’s largest genre film festival. Unlike other festivals, Fantastic Fest doesn’t feature panels, lectures and discussions. Instead the fest, in addition to films, focuses on fun and often outrageous events, such as the Fantastic Debates, which feature oral and physical arguments between members of the film world, and Fantastic Feud, a beer-soaked battle of the brains between teams of American and international film nerds.
The festival champions little-known titles from around the world — Japan and Scandinavian countries always seem to have strong showings — as well as lauded artistic endeavors such as Lars von Trier’s "Melancholia," Jeff Nichols’ "Take Shelter" and Leos Carax’s "Holy Motors." And, with secret screenings along the lines of "There Will Be Blood" and "Cloud Atlas," you never know what to expect at Fantastic Fest. Maybe "Sin City 2" from Austinite Robert Rodriguez?
One potential surprise at this year’s fest could be the festival’s location. Fantastic Fest usually takes place at the Alamo South, but that theater is currently being redeveloped. Will it be completed in time for Fantastic Fest? That’s the idea, but we’ll have to wait and see. (Also, Fantastic Arcade, a celebration of indie video games: No dates announced yet.) www.fantasticfest.com.
Pecan Street Festival, Sept. 29-30. See May 4-5 listing.
Austin City Limits Music Festival, Oct. 4-6 and Oct 11-13. Along with SXSW, the Austin City Limits Music Festival is one of Austin’s biggest music events, with about 75,000 people attending each year. Though it’s not known for helping to launch emerging acts, festival organizers C3 Presents have consistently booked some of the most popular performers in the business, including Neil Young and Crazy Horse, Kanye West, Coldplay and the Eagles.
This year represents a new era for ACL Fest, as the event follows the lead of California’s Coachella and expands to two weekends with nearly identical lineups. In recent years, the event has sold out almost immediately and before the lineup was released; it’s unclear whether that will happen with twice as many tickets available. Tickets and lineup are usually announced in late spring. aclfestival.com.
Fredericksburg Oktoberferst, Oct. 4-6. A celebration of the Hill Country city’s German heritage, with lots of oompah, beer and food. www.oktoberfestinfbg.com.
Livestrong Challenge Austin, Oct. 20. More than 4,000 cyclists will take to the streets in this fully supported bike ride and fund-raiser to benefit the Livestrong Foundation. Riders pedal distances between 20 and 100 miles, starting and finishing in downtown Austin. At the finish line, each cancer survivor gets a yellow rose. A post-event party follows the ride. For more information go to www.livestrong.org.
Austin Film Festival, Oct. 24-31. The festival co-founded by executive director Barbara Morgan turns 20. AFF has separated itself from other film festivals by emphasizing screenwriters.
AFF will welcome some familiar faces back this year. Terry Rosio ("Shrek," "Pirates of the Caribbean"), John August ("Frankenweenie," "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory"), Jim Uhls ("Fight Club"), Dan Sterling (producer on "The Office" and "The Daily Show With Jon Stewart") and Franklin Leonard (curator of industry buzz-creator The Black List) will attend. For the first time, the conference will extend into the second week of the festival.
AFF will also add to their guest programmer series curated by visiting screenwriters and directors and do some joint programming with the Texas Book Festival. AFF will release its own book, "On Story: Screenwriters and Their Craft," and welcome some of the book’s contributors.
What films can you expect from the fest? It’s too early to make any deeply informed guesses, but one film with an outside chance of screening might be "Saving Mr. Banks." The movie, starring Tom Hanks, Emma Thompson and Colin Farrell, is directed by AFF alumnus and Texas native John Lee Hancock ("The Blind Side," "The Rookie"). www.austinfilmfestival.com.
Texas Book Festival, Oct. 26-27. More than 200 authors from around the world descend on Austin for the largest salute to writing each year in Texas. Events take place inside the Capitol as well as on the surrounding grounds and nearby venues. This year, the festival coincides with the Austin Film Festival, which focuses on screenwriting. So you should probably expect some crossover between the two. www.texasbookfestival.org.
PolariFest, the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, October 16-20. The Polari Fest (formerly the Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival) will return with a mixture of touching, bawdy, informative and funny and titles. www.polarifest.com.
Fun Fun Fun Fest, Nov. 8-10. In 2011, after several years of setting up shop in the cozy confines of Waterloo Park, Fun Fun Fun Fest made the leap to Auditorium Shores. The move gave the fest, which has a reputation for bringing in reunited punk and metal acts as well as some of the bigger names in indie rock, a more prominent location and more space to stretch out. Recent headliners including metal legends Slayer (2011) and rap icons Run-DMC (2012), a SXSW-style slate of club shows at night, and a growing comedy element (David Cross) have helped make the event one of Austin’s biggest weekends of the year. funfunfunfest.com.
Formula One, Nov. 16-17 weekend. The U.S. Grand Prix dates might change, since there’s a conflict with a Texas Longhorns football game, but for now, this is the date. At the Circuit of the Americas track east of Austin, and Fan Fest will also return downtown. www.circuitoftheamericas.com.
ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, Thanksgiving Day. Some 20,000 runners chug 5 miles around downtown Austin (many dressed as turkeys, Native Americans, chefs or pilgrims) to alleviate the guilt of the traditional holiday feast. Run starts at 9:30 a.m. For more information go to thundercloud.com/index.php/trot.
East Austin Studio Tour, Nov. 16-24. It’s the phenom that made a neighborhood a creative destination for Austin — and arguably made East Austin a trendy hot spot for restaurants, clubs and loft-living, too.
Started by a handful of artists as a casual one-afternoon open studio event, the East Austin Studio Tour now spans two weekends and includes literally hundreds of artists who open their studio doors to visitors. Last year, more than 400 artists participated and the full-color, free catalog tipped the scales at four pounds.
The main part of the free, self-guided tour takes place Saturdays and Sundays, Nov. 16-17 and Nov. 23-24. And pop-up exhibits, site-specific public art projects and performances as well as special events and parties abound, not just during the weekend touring, but in the week between. www.eastaustinstudiotour.com.
Austin Polish Film Festival, TBA. The festival, now in its eight year, usually features a theme – last year’s was "The New Voice of Polish Film: Polish Film Directors After 1950" – and can serve as a nice introduction to lesser-known filmmakers. www.austinpolishsociety.org.
Austin Celtic Festival, TBA. A celebration of the Celtic people at Fiesta Gardens. www.austincelticfestival.com.
Trail of Lights, TBA. A year of celebration wraps up with the annual holiday lights display at Zilker Park. More details to come. www.austintrailoflights.org.