Hot tunes in the city: Free summer music in Austin
The temperatures are up, but the music won’t stop. Free outdoor music events are an essential part of summer in Austin. Here are six places where you can catch hot tunes in the city without opening your wallet.
Blues on the Green. Now in its 29th season, the monthly Zilker Park throwdown hosted by Austin City Limits Radio (formerly KGSR) is the largest free outdoor concert series in town. The event kicked off in May and the next installment features a performance by standout singer-songwriter Ben Kweller on July 17. The series closes on Aug. 7. The family-friendly concerts start at 8 p.m., but organizers recommend early arrival to secure a good spot to spread out your blanket and set up lawn chairs. Limited parking is available on site for $15. Parking opens at 6 p.m. and event organizers recommend you purchase a pass online in advance, because it usually sells out. Food and non-alcoholic beverage vendors are on site for the event and leashed dogs are welcome. More info.
Pan Am Hillside Concert Series. The longest running outdoor concert series in Austin celebrated 60 years at Pan American Neighborhood Park in 2018. The concerts take place at the park’s amphitheater every Tuesday in July. They generally start between 6 and 7 p.m. and feature musical acts that reflect the East Central Austin neighborhood’s Tejano heritage. The park is currently undergoing renovation, but organizers say construction is scheduled to be finished by July. Fest-goers are welcome to bring lawn chairs, blankets and canned beverages, but leave the glass containers and pets at home. More info.
Sound and Cinema. This popular series combines two of Austin’s great loves, music and movies. The event returns to the Long Center Lawn on June 19, then continues with two installments in July before closing out in August. The movie lineup is out now (the kickoff event features the young buddy flick, ‘The Goonies’), but we’re still waiting on the music roster. The onsite food trucks open at 6:30 p.m. and music starts at 7:30. The movie screens at sundown, generally around 8:45 p.m. You can bring your lawn chair, a personal water bottle and your leashed pets, but leave your coolers and alcoholic beverages at home. $8 parking is available in the Long Center garage and at One Texas Center. More info.
RELATED: Our 2019 Austin summer music guide
Austin Symphony Orchestra concerts in the park. The ASO returns to the Long Center terrace for the free Hartman Foundation summer concert series every Sunday from June 2 - August 27, except July 7. Each week, a small ensemble from ASO will perform selections that range from jazz and light classical to pops and film scores. Concert-goers are encouraged to bring a blanket and picnic on the lawn for the casual shows. The outdoor concerts are family friendly and leashed pets are welcome. Concerts begin at 7:30 p.m. each week. $8 parking is available in the Long Center garage and One Texas Center. More info.
Unplugged at the Grove. ACL Radio’s acoustic series celebrates its 26th season with live music at the Shady Grove on Barton Springs Road every Thursday throughout the summer. This is an all ages event, but unlike the others in this roundup, it takes place at a restaurant, not a park. So leave the lawn chairs and the cooler at home and consider bringing some money for drinks and snacks and to tip your waitstaff. Music starts at 8 p.m. More info.
Black Fret Summer Sessions. The new live music series from the music nonprofit presents three free Friday night concerts on the Long Center lawn featuring artists who have received development grants from the patronage organization. The event kicked off last week and continues on July 19 (artists include Jaimee Harris and Superfonicos) and Sept. 6 (artists include Tomar and the FCs and Riders Against the Storm). Gates open at 5 p.m. and music begins at 6 p.m. Food and drink will be available on site. More info.