On the first Thursday of each month, all of the stores along South Congress that normally close early stay open late (most stay open until 10 p.m., but some later). Some of the stores have special sales and give out free drinks on these nights. Some of the restaurants and bars have drink specials.
The South Congress area is extremely pedestrian friendly. Once you find a parking spot (which can be challenging -- you may need to park in the nearby neighborhoods) you can enjoy the entire event by foot. It is a great opportunity for people-watching!
In several different parking lots along South Congress, one being in the open lot next to Italian restaurant Vespaio, local arts and crafts vendors set up dozens of booths and sell their goods. You can find handcrafted jewelry, photography and art, pottery, homemade soap, clothes and more. It is the perfect opportunity for gift shopping.
During First Thursday, some local musicians and performers set up and play on the sidewalks. You can also head over to the Continental Club for some great live music while you're out there.
First Thursday is a smorgasbord of local flavor. If you have a guest in from out of town, taking them to this event is a great way to introduce them to Austin and all of its wonderful weirdness. This video is a little old but shows off the South Congress area and some of the fun that happens on First Thursday.