If there’s one thing any good Austinite knows how do, it’s have a good time. A bunch of fantastic FREE festivals are coming your way this year, so get out there and party with your fellow locals!
Free Austin Festivals in 2017
January 15 – February 15 | locations vary
PrintAustin is a month-long print fest celebrating the art of original printmaking. With three professional print shops, nationally recognized university printmaking programs, internationally acclaimed print collections, and a thriving printmaking community, Austin is a hub for printmaking in Texas. The PrintAustin team is working with organizations and individuals throughout the Austin visual arts community to showcase fine art prints during this annual event.
MLK March and Festival
January 16 at 9 a.m. | March: Begins at MLK Statue on UT Campus, East Mall. Festival: Huston-Tillotson University 900 Chicon St, Austin
The Annual Community March celebrates Dr. Martin Luther King’s legacy while uplifting diversity and multi-culturalism in our city. The MLK Community March kicks off on Monday, January 16, 2017 at 9 a.m. with a short program at the MLK Statue on the University of Texas campus. March to the south steps of the State Capitol for a short program and continue on to the historic Huston-Tillotson University, where exciting activities are planned. All businesses, non-profit organizations and individuals are invited to march and celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. This year, marchers are asked to help by donating can goods or non-perishable food items, which will be donated to the Capital Area Food Bank. Donation receptacles will be available at The University of Texas and the Capitol, while the march is in those locations. Receptacles will also be available at the festival at Huston-Tillotson University.
January 22 from 2-5 p.m. | Puerto Rican Folkloric Dance & Cultural Center, 701 Tillery St, Austin
Come enjoy the last parranda in Texas! Kids, is your box of grass ready? The Reyes Mago are on the way! FREE event, donations welcome! Grateful to all who can bring party-ready finger foods!
Puerto Ricans are joyful people because their holidays start in November and last until end of January! Los Reyes Magos (The Three Kings) are coming to Austin to celebrate Octavitas. Come sing aguinaldos one last time and enjoy PRF dance performances. Bring the kids; the Reyes always bring gifts!
Chinese New Year Celebration
February 5 from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Chinatown Center, 10901 N Lamar Blvd, Austin
Welcome the Year of the Rooster with special performances, family-friendly attractions, and food. FREE!
Free First Sunday at the Bullock Museum: WeatherFest
February 5 from 12-5 p.m. | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 Congress Ave, Austin
Enjoy FREE exhibit admission all day during Free First Sundays, held the first Sunday of every month, and family activities from 12-3 p.m. At February’s FREE First Sunday, you get to experience WeatherFest, and enjoy hands-on science experiments, weather-related films and panel discussions, and family-friendly activities. Meet your favorite local meteorologist, and more!
Texas Independence Parade
March 4 at 9:30 a.m. | Congress Avenue, Austin
This year marks the 181st birthday of Texas! Bring a lawn chair and a Texas flag to wave.
March 4 from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Campus of UT Austin
Held annually at UT Austin, Explore UT aims to inform students, parents, teachers, and community members from across the state about the importance of the public research institution and higher education in Texas. The day-long event invites Texans of all ages to experience robust research experiences, hands-on demonstrations and experiments, and participate in the richness of the university’s scholarship and knowledge. Explore UT seeks to broaden the horizons of students in Texas and motivate them toward achieving higher education after high school. It seeks to help parents and teachers encourage the excitement of learning and discovery, and welcomes alumni to reconnect with the institution that prepared them for their careers. View full schedule of events here. FREE!
Zilker Kite Festival
March 5 from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. | Zilker Park, 2100 Barton Springs Rd, Austin
Go fly a kite! Kick off spring with exciting kite contests, the best food booths and food trucks that Austin has to offer, and exciting activities for kids of all ages. The ABC Zilker Kite festival is FREE for everyone and benefits Communities In Schools of Central Texas. Rain date is March 12th.
March 11 from 3-7:30 p.m. | Radha Madhav Dham, 400 Barsana Rd, Austin
Holi is also called the Spring Festival as it marks the arrival of spring, the season of hope and joy. It is known as the festival of colors, and traditionally played in India every year to mark the beginning of the spring season. Here in America, Holi is played in the same style as it is in Braj district of India – with the same colorful, playful, family-filled fun and devotion. This year, the Holi play will be accompanied by a live band singing Holi songs from Braj to liven up the environment with uplifting music. There will also be a traditional Holika fire burning as a reminder that evil always burns in the face of good. FREE!
March 13-19 | Various locations
The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW) is held every March in Austin. A large multi-industry trade show exhibition, Music Gear Expo, and daytime stage performances round out the day while evenings are devoted to the SXSW Music Festival, which showcases over 2,200 acts ranging from the unsigned to the iconic. The festival itself is not free, but there are lots of free concerts and public events that do not require a badge to attend. Sign up to receive information about 2017 FREE SXSW events here.
Texas VegFest 2017
April 1 from 11 a.m. – 6 p.m. | Fiesta Gardens, 2101 Jesse E Segovia St, Austin
Texas VegFest’s sixth year celebration will feature local and national sponsors and vendors, educational lectures, cooking demonstrations, community outreach, a featured nonprofit, youth activities, fantastic food, craft beer, and live music. FREE!
Austin International Poetry Festival
April 6-9 | Various locations
The FREE festival includes more than 20 unique Austin venues, 30 diverse themed poetry readings, 10+ open mics, ten plus workshops, five music and poetry events, a complete anthology reading, all-night open mic, poet symposium, and a printed poetry anthology competition featuring the winning submissions. Youth activities include an anthology competition, anthology reading, grade specific readings, two workshops, and printed anthologies.
South Asian New Year Festival
April 8 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. | Zilker Hillside Theater, 2201 William Barton Dr, Austin
The Zilker Hillside Theater Stage will feature live dance and music performances along with authentic programs highlighting the colorful diversity of South Asian Culture. Off stage, visitors will be enticed to enjoy the wonderful foods and merchandise available in the Bazaar. With food, ethnic clothing, jewelry, crafts, henna and more – this festival has all the ingredients to represent the rich tapestry of South Asian Culture. FREE to attend!
April 12-16 | Various locations
Fusebox is a hybrid arts festival that champions adventurous works of art in theater, dance, film, music, literature, visual and culinary arts. FREE to attend but to help plan your festival experience, reservations to most performances and events will be available here.
Texas Community Music Festival
April 21-30 | Central Market North, 4001 N Lamar Blvd, Austin
The Annual Texas Community Music Festival will showcase all types of live music. TCMF is organized, managed and promoted by the Austin Civic Wind Ensemble, Austin’s oldest community band. Here’s the schedule. FREE!
Austin Earth Day Festival
April 22 | Huston-Tillotson University, 900 Chicon St, Austin
Earth Day Austin is the largest sustainability event in Central Texas. Thousands from the Austin area and beyond will come to learn about conservation and sustainable solutions, celebrate love for the environment, and get connected to the best and most innovative green businesses and organizations. FREE!
Sunset Valley Art Fest (Sunset Valley)
April 22 | Toney Burger Center, 3205 Jones Rd., Sunset Valley
Different forms of art, woodworking, oil paints and jewelry will be on display during this FREE event. The festival also has live music, local foods, activities for kids and more.
Eeyore’s Birthday Party
April 29 | Pease District Park, 1100 Kingsbury St, Austin
If you want to check out this renowned Austin event, get out costumes for you and your child (and even for your family pet). Costumes of any variety are encouraged – they do not need to be Winnie-the-Pooh-related. There will be costume contests with prizes for kids of all ages. There is no parking available at the venue. FREE!
Pecan Street Festival
May 6 & 7 | 6th Street between Brazos and I-35, Austin
The Pecan Street Festival, one of Central Texas’ oldest and most popular events, is a two-day arts festival held each spring and fall in downtown Austin’s charming Sixth Street Historic District, a National Register of Historic Places site. More than 60 of Austin’s finest musical acts bring three stages to life, and family-friendly activities from street magicians to a petting zoo delight both adults and children. Food vendors provide both healthy and indulgent choices, often supported by and benefiting charitable partners. May 6 from 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. and May 7 from 11 a.m. – 8 p.m. FREE!
WEST Austin Studio Tour
May 13-14 & May 20-21 | Various locations
WEST is a self-guided tour that champions the abundance of talent within Austin’s large and wildly diverse creative community. The public is invited to discover new artistic talent, see working studios, learn about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and support the arts community by building their personal art collections with the work of local artists. In its fifth year, the tour is expected to grow in size and substance as the number of artists working west of I-35 increases. WEST boundaries include the area West of I-35, East of Mopac, South of HWY 183, and North of William Cannon. FREE!
ROT Rally Parade & Free Concert
June 9 at 7 p.m. | Congress Ave from Cesar Chavez to 11th St, Austin
The ROT Biker Rally is the largest “turnstile” motorcycle rally in the country. Although the Travis County Expo Center is the main location for the Rally, the Friday of Rally weekend, there is a parade and concert downtown. The parade will run from about 7:45 – 8:30 p.m. Bring ear protection for the littles, as the event can get loud. Motorcycles wanting to participate should gather at the Travis County Expo Center at 7 p.m. at gate 3 (only participants with official ROT wristband can be in the parade). Bikes will leave the expo at 7:45 p.m. Music starts right after the bikes finish parking. FREE!
HEB Austin Symphony Concert & Fireworks
July 4 from 4-10 p.m. | Downtown Austin at Vic Mathias Shores & the Long Center, 600 W Riverside Dr, Austin
Austin Symphony’s July 4th Concert and Fireworks is an Austin Tradition. FREE Fireworks, and a FREE Live performance for all central Texans. Great food and drinks, and a variety of local Arts & Crafts vendors.
Ten Year Anniversary of the Mexican American Cultural Center
September 16 | ESB-MACC, 600 River St, Austin
To celebrate ten years of serving the Mexican-American and Latino community in this beautiful facility designed by Mexican renowned architect Teodoro González de León, this year will have an extra special festival.
Austin Museum Day
September 17 | Various locations
Austin Museum Day is a FREE, city-wide rediscovery of Austin museums held on the penultimate Sunday of the month of September. It provides the public with FREE access to exhibits and activities representing more than 35 Austin cultural institutions.
Texas American Indian Heritage Day
September 29 | Bullock Texas State History Museum, 1800 N. Congress Ave., Austin
The Texas State Legislature has named the last Friday in September as American Indian Heritage Day, which recognizes the historic, cultural, and social contributions American Indian communities and leaders have made to the state. To celebrate this special day, the Bullock Museum will feature a range of activities with dancing and drumming performances and interactive experiences for school groups during the morning, and a FREE evening program that celebrates the traditional and contemporary arts of Texas’s American Indian groups.
Chalk Walk and Festival
October dates TBA | Centennial Plaza, 301 West Bagdad, Round Rock
Chalk is the theme. Artists are free to create a picture on the concrete with chalk pastels. Music, children’s activities, art created by local artists, and wonderful food booths abound! Usually held the first weekend in October. FREE!
Texas Teen Book Festival
October dates TBA | St. Edward’s University
FREE annual one-day festival.
Diwali Festival of Lights in Austin
October 14 | Radha Madhav Dham, 400 Barsana Rd, Austin
Sparkle up your Diwali with Joy at Radha Madhav Dham! Ignite the flame of spirituality in your heart! Join in the magnificent festival of Diwali, the festival of lights, at Radha Madhav Dham Austin! This is one of the most favorite Indian festivals of the year! FREE admission with free parking!
Pfall Chili Pfest
October 21 | 100 E Main Street, Pflugerville
Annual chili cook-off contest with as many as 40 teams entered, plus vendors, car show and children’s area, with live music on stage. FREE to attend, with packages of tasting cups and spoons for sale.
Viva la Vida Festival and Parade
October date TBA | 419 Congress Ave, Austin
Viva la Vida is Austin’s largest and longest-running Day of the Dead festival featuring Latino artists and entertainment, an exhibition, and educational programs in the heart of downtown. Part of the proceeds will benefit the education programs of Mexic-Arte Museum, whose mission is to enrich the community through education programs and exhibitions focusing on traditional and contemporary Mexican, Latino, and Latin American art and culture. Mexic-Arte Museum presents Día de los Muertos as Viva la Vida Fest to celebrate life by promoting health and environmental awareness through art and culture. Mexic-Arte Museum’s Viva la Vida Fest brings together Austin’s diverse population to pay homage to friends, family, and heroes. The FREE festival features an exhibition of contemporary art as well as community altars. Attendees can also enjoy wall murals, education programs, a grand procession with costumes and props, and a street celebration with traditional foods, hands-on art activities, artist demos, local retail booths, live music and performances.
Texas Book Festival
November 4 & 5 | State Capitol and surrounding grounds, Austin
The Texas Book Festival will return for its 22nd year and will once again be held in and around the Texas State Capitol in downtown Austin. Book lovers can expect to see a great author lineup, book signings, food trucks, cooking demonstrations, author sessions and panels, live music, a Saturday night Lit Crawl, and more. FREE!
East Austin Studio Tour
November 11-12 & 18-19 | Various locations
EAST is an annual, self-guided art event occurring over two weekends in November, providing the public with an opportunity to meet the makers–the local artists and artisans who leave a lasting imprint on Austin’s vibrant, dynamic culture. Tour-goers are invited to discover new artistic talent, see working studios, learn about artists’ tools, techniques, and inspirations, and explore unique exhibition spaces and local businesses. FREE!
Austin’s New Year
December 31 | Vic Mathias Shores, 800 W Riverside Dr, Austin
This annual event takes place on Auditorium Shores on New Year’s Eve. The alcohol-free, family-friendly event celebrates the diversity and creativity of the city with visual art installations, festive performances, live music on three stages, and a fireworks finale. Stay tuned for details on ringing in 2018! FREE!