Summer is traditionally a slow time for Austin music, but once September rolls around and the temperatures begin to drop (we hope), fall festival season offers ample opportunities for outdoor music in Central Texas.
Austin’s fall music festival behemoth is the Austin City Limits Music Festival. This year’s event is scheduled to take place Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13 in Zilker Park and features headline performances by Childish Gambino, Cardi B., Guns ‘n’ Roses, Mumford and Sons, Billie Eilish, the Cure and more. Three-day passes for weekend one sold out swiftly, but passes for the second weekend and festival single-day tickets are still available.
RELATED: ACL Fest releases single-day lineups
If you’re looking for a more intimate festival experience, there are several smaller niche festivals scattered throughout the city and the surrounding area. Here are eight alternate festival options:
Sept. 6-8: Babes Fest. The powerhouse networking and artist-bolstering collective presents a three-day event celebrating music, film, art, comedy and more from female and non-binary artists. The fest kicks off with a film showcase at Motion Media Arts Center on Friday. On Saturday, the event moves downtown for daytime panels, workshops and a vendors market at the Line Hotel followed by an evening music showcase at the North Door with electronic artist Madame Gandhi, indie rockers Calliope Musicals and more. The festival closes on Sunday with a "hang" at Big Medium that includes panels and performances from Dallas artist Zyah and Austin's Little Mazarn. Three-day pass is $60; music showcase $15. babesfest.org
Sept. 13-15: Eastside Kings Festival. A labor of love, produced by longtime local blues champion, Eddie Stout, this event brings soulful sounds back into the heart of Austin’s Eastside. After a Friday kickoff party at Antone's, the action moves to 12th and Chicon streets, where a large outdoor stage will be set up in the Mission Possible parking lot, with smaller satellite stages in the surrounding bars and businesses. This year's roster includes a mix of Texas artists including guitar great Barbara Lynn and harmonica master Birdlegg alongside national and international talents, such as Bloodest Saxophone, a crew of retro-soul enthusiasts from Japan with over 20 years of experience backing blues and soul artists. Shows begin at 4:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday. facebook.com/EastsideKingsFestival
Sept. 26-29: River Revival Festival. Houston’s Splice Records and Lone Star beer team up to present this music and camping festival on the banks of the Guadalupe River. Singer-songwriter JD McPherson, local roots act Shinyribs and intergalactic jazz outfit Golden Dawn Arkestra lead a bill built primarily from Texas talent. The festival has a main stage and a smaller side stage and the campground capacity is capped at 750. In addition to music, the festival programs workshops and family activities, and festival tickets include meals and camping. A group float down the river is available for an additional charge. A three-day pass is $249 (early bird), and kids 6-16 get in for $29; 5 and younger free. $99-$119 single-day. riverrevival.net
Oct. 11-13: Welcome Home Fest. The Kerrville Folk Festival Foundation presents a miniature fall version of their famous spring folk festival at Quiet Valley Ranch. Flaco Jimenez & Los Texmaniacs, Donovan Keith, Joe King Carrasco and Guy Forsyth lead a lineup of local talent, and to keep the event intimate, less than 1,000 tickets will be sold. Three-day pass for $140 (early bird). kerrvillefolkfestival.org/welcomehomefest
Oct. 26-27: Piknic Electronik at Vic Matthias Shores. Lineup and ticket information is not yet available, but organizers confirmed to the Statesman that the electronic music event from Montreal will return to Austin for a second year at the city center park formerly known as Auditorium Shores. With a mission to bring EDM out of sweaty after hours clubs and to a broader audience, the event is deliberately family-friendly. It kicks off in the afternoon, there's a dedicated children's area and kids 10 and under are free. Last year, fest-goers were able to order picnic baskets from Central Market and there were also several food trucks on site.
RELATED: Piknic Electronik makes its Austin debut
Oct. 26-27: Mala Luna. Austin-based Scoremore Shows takes over Nelson Wolff stadium in San Antonio for a two-day bash featuring hot hip-hop, R&B and dance music acts. Soulful crooner Miguel and rapper/singer Russ headline on Saturday followed by Diplo and Juice Wrld on Sunday. The bill also includes red hot Houston rapper Megan Thee Stallion, DaBaby, Summer Walker, Playboi Carti, Trippie Redd and more. Two-day pass is $109; single-day, $79. malalunamusicfestival.com
Nov. 7-10: Levitation. The Black Angels-affiliated celebration of psychedelia returns to the Red River Cultural District for four days of individually-ticketed club shows highlighting the best in experimental music. With showcases programmed by a variety of record labels and indie promoters, this year's festival includes shows from the Flaming Lips, Angel Olsen, Mercury Rev, John Cale, Black Moth Super Rainbow and more. levitation-austin.com
Nov. 14-16: UtopiaFest. After nine years on a family ranch in Utopia, the festival moved to Reveille Peak Ranch, located roughly 10 minutes northwest of Burnet for the 10th go round last year. UtopiaFest returns to Reveille Peak this year with a lineup that, aside from alt-country outfit Son Volt, leans heavily on local talent. Austin border funk specialists Brownout, rising blues star Jackie Venson and Sir Woman, the new solo project from Wild Child's Kelsey Wilson, top a bill that also includes Israel Nash, the Whisky Shivers, Erika Wennerstrom and more. The event boasts two stages with no overlapping sets. Craft beverages will be available for purchase, but organizers say fest-goers will be able to bring their own beverages to the event this year. Camping is encouraged at the family-friendly event. Two-day pass, $179 (early bird, includes camping). Kids 2-12, $20; teens 13-19, $50. utopiafest.com
Nov. 16-17: Seismic Dance Event. Billed as a "massive two-day house and techno festival of epic proportions," the event will take over the Austin American-Statesman property for a two-stage bash, with one stage in the parking lot by the Congress Avenue Bridge and the other indoors in the Statesman warehouse. Event organizers promise over 25 international headliners, food trucks, art and more. Two-day, $149.99. seismicdanceevent.com