Rain hasn't usually stopped ACL Fest. What to know and how to prepare for a wet forecast
"The festival takes place rain or shine."
That's what Austin City Limits Music Festival's official line is when it comes to weather, according to the wristband replacement policy on its website.
You might have wondered, since the forecast for the first weekend of ACL Fest, Oct. 1-3, is looking mighty soggy. It's not like it's never rained during the fest, though. And this is still Austin; you know the weather could change on a dime.
Here's the skinny on wet weather and ACL Fest.
What's the official plan for severe weather at ACL Fest?
"We do not share the specifics of safety and security for large scale events," said Sara Henry, public information & marketing program manager for Austin Center for Events, in an email to the American-Statesman. "What I can share is that we are monitoring the weather conditions in partnership with the National Weather Service, and will communicate to festival goers any weather impacts to the event in coordination with ACL event organizers."
But if a weather emergency that threatens the safety of fest-goers does happen, Henry said that messaging would appear on the large video screens at most stages; be announced via loud speakers; and mobile alerts would be sent from the fest's official app and social media accounts. Staff and security also would direct attendees about where to go, she added.
The fest also has a text alert service; text ACL to 76107 to get updates.
Has ACL Fest ever been canceled because of rain or other severe weather?
Just once, if you can believe it, and it was the first year that ACL Fest was two weekends long. In 2013, ACL Fest organizers called things off Sunday during the second weekend after flooding caused by overnight storms dumped 4.22 inches of rain.
When the fest says rain or shine, it means it. The infamous "mud pit" year in 2009 left Zilker Park a sloppy mess after two days of rain, but bands and plenty of fans still stuck it out.
The festival has delayed or canceled some individual performances in past years due to inclement weather.
And as you well know, the show goes on through extreme heat (pick a year) and even extreme cold (in 2019, the Austin360 team interviewed bands under blankets). It took a pandemic to shutter the in-person festival in 2020.
How can I prepare for rain at ACL Fest?
Unfortunately, umbrellas fall under ACL’s prohibited items list, which means you can’t bring them into the festival. But rain ponchos are fair game, so we’d suggest bringing one if you’re looking to stay dry this weekend. Taking scissors to a garbage bag at home will also do the trick.
Again, keep in mind that if it pours, Zilker Park could turn into a muddy slip-and-slide, so wearing rain boots or other water-proof shoes is probably a good idea.
Tents and canopies are also on the forbidden items list. And don't forget that ACL has instituted a clear bag policy this year, which might help with keeping your valuables dry. It also wouldn't hurt to make sure your printed proof of vaccination or of a negative COVID-19 test result are in a plastic, waterproof holder of some sort.
And when it comes to face masks, remember: There's a pandemic going, and city health guidelines require attendees to mask up in areas where social distancing isn't possible, like close to the stages. You might want to consider your most water resistant mask, if you have one.
But the moral of the story is: If it keeps you dry and you can wear it on your body, it's a good idea.
Also, a note for those attendees who need mobility accommodations: ACL's website mentions that the fest is wheelchair accessible, "but is a large venue with great distances between activities and attractions. It is outdoors and across city streets and pathways. Some travel is over natural terrain and terrain designed for motor vehicles. If it should rain, there could be mud."