Listen to Austin 360 Radio

Seeking shade at ACL Fest: Fans’ and families’ top tips to avoid getting toasted

Eric Pulsifer

There’s not much in the way of AC (or cloud cover) at ACL Fest, so Friday afternoon early arrivals got shady, seeking a UV-blocking break from the sun wherever they could around the park.

Bill and Maryann Zeitz of Austin are ACL Fest pros, enjoying their eighth festival today and fifth in a row with 5-year-old Finn in tow. The trio had set up home base on a blanket in the shade of a tree away from the HomeAway Stage, but they plan to hop around all day. “We know where the bathrooms, beer, and the shade are. What more do you need?” Maryann joked. She said they’ve found Friday day is when the fest is at its most family friendly. “The kids’ area is awesome — and they have bathrooms with AC — but it’s fun to be out here and people watch,” she said.

Connie Szeszko and daughter Sydney are in town from San Antonio for their first ACL Fest, but they already had their priorities straight. “Our goal is to remain in the shade as much as possible today,” Connie said, posted up in the shadow of a chain link fence between the bathrooms and the Honda Stage. The duo was already liking the layout and had made their way from one end of the park to another, finding shade along the way. Connie’s said an early arrival is key for shade-seekers coming to the festival later this weekend: “Get here early and stake out a spot.”

Nicole and Chris Ioset were in the shade of a row of trees between the BMI Stage and the Barton Springs stage. This was the San Antonians third ACL, but their first with a baby. “I’m surprised how enjoyable it still is as a family,” Nicole said, as their 7-month-old rolled on a blanket in the shade of a pop-up peapod-shaped shelter. Nicole’s advice for families with little ones? “Bring something to sit on and commandeer room in the shade.” The couple also praised the convenience of the festival’s family entrance, which allows those with little ones to enter early on the east side of the park and head straight into the Austin Kiddie Limits area.

Justin Segura of San Angelo found a small spot of shade in the shadow of one of ACL’s flags in the middle of the park. A six-time ACL Fest vet, he said the key to making it through the weekend standing is to pace yourself and prioritize. “Don’t try to see everything,” he said. “I’ve seen people out here try to go hard from open to close, and by the end of the day they’re exhausted. And then there are still two days left.”