The festival is usually held in September, but in 2009, it will be October 2-4. The Austin City Limits 2009 lineup includes Dave Matthews Band, Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Pearl Jam, Kings of Leon, The Walkmen, Ben Harper and Relentless7, John Legend, Thievery Corporation, Toadies, Flogging Molly, The B-52s, and more.
BackgroundThe music festival was inspired by the Austin City Limits TV program, which has filmed live music performances in UT's KLRU studios since 1976. The first festival began in 2002 and was two days long, but the next year expanded to a three-day festival. Each year, the line-up has gotten more impressive, with performances by Bob Dylan, Van Morrison, Robert Plant, Coldplay, Oasis, Blues Traveler, John Mayer, Tom Petty, Bjork, Beck, and hundreds more. There is usually a good combination of classic rock, indie rock, and folk music, with a little bit of everything else.
More Than MusicEach year, the SoCo Art Market is featured on the festival grounds. Local artisans set up booths and sell arts, crafts, jewelry, clothes, and other cool merchandise.
There is also the Austin Eats Food Court, which has booths from dozens of delicious local eateries. Additionally, there are plentiful booths that sell water, beer, lemonade, and other drinks.
Buying Austin City Limits TicketsTickets for the festival can be bought on the ACL website. There are several ticket options:
- Three-Day Passes
The main type of ticket is the three-day pass, which give you access to the entire festival. There is always a brief early-bird sale for these, with very limited tickets at a low price. Later, advance tickets go on sale at a higher price. Once these sell out, the price goes up again and are on sale until they sell out (which usually happens). If you have a three-day pass, you can enter and re-enter the festival grounds as often as you'd like.
Shortly after regular three-day passes go on sale, there is the option to buy a daily pass for a particular day. This is a great option if you only care about seeing bands on one day. These tend to sell out fast for days in which there is a huge act. You cannot leave and re-enter with a one-day pass.
VIP tickets to ACL are very pricey ($850 in 2009) but provide luxuries that are hard to beat. It includes a three-day pass to the festival and access to the VIP Grove, which includes air-conditioned bathrooms (everyone else uses porta-potties), gourmet happy hour with tastings, food, drinks, a mini-spa and misting area, and a shady seating area (hard to find in Zilker Park). If you purchase four VIP passes, you also get a coveted parking spot.
Note that children who are 10 and under can get into the festival for free when accompanied by a ticket-holding adult. Also, if you want to go to ACL but the ticket you want has sold out, take a look at Craigslist.org, or just show up there and look for people selling tickets out front. The lineup doesn't come out until after tickets go up for sale, so many people buy tickets first to make sure they get one, then later decide not to go once they see the lineup and try to sell them.
TransportationThere is no on-site parking at the Austin City Limits festival, and many nearby roads are shut down, so any open spots you find will likely be miles away. Here are your best transportation options:
Capital Metro operates a fleet of free shuttles for ACL. They pick you up at Republic Square park (corner of 4th and Guadalupe Streets), which has many nearby parking garages, usually $5 for the day. After a short ride, you will be dropped off near the festival gates. The shuttles also take you back to Republic Square. Shuttles begin running at 10 a.m. and stop running at 11 p.m. Depending on when you catch a ride, you may have to wait in a long line (but sometimes there is no line).
Taxis may be hard to find, but there is a convenient drop-off and pick-up area for passengers who choose to take a taxi. It may be a good idea to reserve a taxi ahead of time.
- Passenger Drop-off
There is one official passenger drop-off area, which you can use if someone can take you to the festival. It is at the north end of the MoPac Pedestrian Bridge on Stephen F. Austin Drive (enter Stephen F. Austin Drive from the east). Walk across the pedestrian bridge and you will soon be at the festival grounds.
Bike racks are provided at the entrance gates, so feel free to ride your bike to and from the festival. This area is well-lit for your protection. Just be sure to bring a lock, as they are not provided.
Austin City Limits Tips
- There are many restrictions as to what you can and can't bring into the festival grounds. Please read this list of allowed and prohibited items so you can be prepared.
- There are some ATM machines on site, but they come with service fees. Some merchants at the festival accept credit and debit cards, but some do not. If you think you might buy food, drinks, merchandise, or crafts, consider bringing some cash.
- If you are taking your child with you, stop by the Tag-a-Kid booth. They will get your contact information and give your child a wristband with a certain number on it. If the little one gets lost, they will easily be able to reconnect with you.
- At the Austin City Limits Music Festival, there are thousands of people using their cell phones at the same time. Because of this, sometimes the signals get jammed and it can be difficult to make or receive calls. Texts go through more easily, but sometimes still won't work. If you are planning to meet up with friends, you may want to set up a meet-up place and time before you get there in case you aren't able to use your phone.