As Austin has grown, so has the number of festivals held here (which has even produced spoofs fitting of The Onion). You might be surprised to realize how many you can attend for FREE. Get your calendars ready, because 2015 is gonna be a year full of fun!
Martin Luther King Festival – January 19, 9:00 a.m. – 3:00 p.m.
The Annual Community March kicks off on Monday, January 19, 2015 with a short program at 9am at the MLK Statue at the University of Texas campus. The March ends at Huston-Tillotson University, where a festival is planned with activities to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy. The MLK Community Festival will last until 3pm. Participants are asked to donate canned goods or other non-perishable food items for the Capital Area Food Bank. NOTE: The MLK March will not go to the Capitol this year, due to preparations for the Gubernatorial Inauguration taking place the following day.
PrintAustin – January 15 – February 15, times and locations vary
This second annual print fest is a month-long event 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.
WeatherFest – Sunday, February 1, 12:00 – 3:00 p.m.
Keep weather on your radar at this event co-presented by the Bullock Museum and Time Warner Cable News. Featuring hands-on science experiments by Girlstart, weather-related films and panel discussions, and family friendly activities, this event is sure to blow you away. Plus, meet a favorite local meteorologist and experience Twister in the IMAX® Theatre! 1800 Congress Avenue, Austin 78701.
Lunar New Year Celebration – February 21, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Chinatown Center hosts an annual celebration of the Lunar New Year, which typically features an Opening Ceremony, dragon and lion dances, face painting, magic show and community resource fair. This year’s celebration will commemorate the Year of the Goat. 10901 North Lamar Blvd., Austin 78753.
Zilker Kite Festival – March 1, 10:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m. (rain date March 8)
Zilker Kite Festival is one of Austin’s best-known annual events. Held on the first Sunday of March, it is the kick-off to the hundreds of springtime activities in Austin. Everyone is welcome to attend (pets too!). There is no admission to attend or to participate in the contest. Most folks come out to see the spectacular sight of hundreds of kites in the sky and to enjoy a spring day in the park. Read tips about attending the Kite Festival here.
Holi Festival – March 7, 2:00 – 8:00 p.m.
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. 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. Read about last year’s festival here. Radha Madhav Dham, 400 Barsana Rd., Austin 78737.
Explore UT – March 7, 11:00 a.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Explore UT is an open house at the University of Texas which aims to inform the public about the university’s mission — teaching, research and public service. It invites Texans of all ages to experience the intellectual life, technological advances and rich resources of a world-class university. It helps them see how the university is shaping the future. You can read our post about last year’s event here.
Pan Americana Festival – March 20-21
Launched in 2011 to capacity audiences, the Pan Americana Festival produced by Bellas Artes Alliance in collaboration with the City of Austin and the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural center is a free, two-day, all-embracing arts, entertainment, and educational event designed as a launching pad for creative discovery. 600 River Street, Austin 78701.
Fusebox Festival – April 1-12, times and locations vary
Fusebox is a hybrid arts festival that champions adventurous works of art in theater, dance, film, music, literature, visual and culinary arts. Building on the success of the Free Range Art initiative last year, the 2015 Fusebox Festival will be completely free to attend.
Austin International Poetry Festival – April 9-12, times and locations vary
The festival includes over twenty unique Austin venues, 30 diverse themed poetry readings, ten plus 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 11, noon – 8:00 p.m.
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 & more – this festival has all the ingredients to represent the rich tapestry of South Asian Culture. 2201 Barton Springs Rd., Austin 78704.
Texas Community Music Festival – April 17-26, times vary
The 10th 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. Central Market North, 4001 N. Lamar Blvd., Austin 78703.
Austin Earth Day Festival – April 18, noon – 6:00 p.m.
The City of Austin, the Austin Public Library and location organizations gather for sustainability information and inspiration in the form of live music, entertainment for kids, food trailers and more. The Historic Browning Hanger at Mueller, 4550 Mueller Central Dr., Austin 78723.
Sunset Valley ArtFest – April 25, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.m.
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. Toney Burger Center, 3205 Jones Rd., Sunset Valley.
Eeyore’s Birthday Party – April 25, 11:00 a.m. until dark (Children’s area open from 11:00 a.m. until 4:00 p.m.)
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. Read more about this unique Austin event here. There is no parking available at the venue. Pease District Park, 1100 Kingsbury St., Austin 78703.
West Austin Studio Tour – 2015 dates TBD (two weekends), 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
WEST is a free, 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. Read about last year’s tour here. Locations vary.
Pecan Street Festival – May 2 (11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.) & May 3 (11:00 a.m. – 8:00 p.m.)
The Pecan Street Festival, one of Central Texas’ oldest and most popular events, is a free 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. Thirty food vendors provide both healthy and indulgent choices, often supported by and benefiting charitable partners.
Republic of Texas Rally Parade & Concert – June 12, 7:00 – midnight
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. Congress Avenue from Cesar Chavez to 11th Street.
July 4th Symphony and Fireworks – July 4, 8:30 p.m. – 9:30 p.m.
Enjoy a free live performance by the Austin Symphony against the backdrop of the fireworks. The orchestra performs at 8:30 p.m., followed by the fireworks at approximately 9:30 p.m. Auditorium Shores and the Long Center.
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival – August 23, noon – 5:00 p.m.
Test your ability to withstand the spice with free samples and live music on August 23rd at Fiesta Gardens. Entry to the Festival is free with a donation of three healthy, non-perishable food items (or a suggested $5 cash donation) to the Capital Area Food Bank. 2101 E. Segovia St. Austin 78702.
Austin Museum Day – September 20, times vary
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 afree access to exhibits and activities representing more than 35 Austin cultural institutions! For more information about last year’s Museum Day, read our article here. Locations vary.
Sacred Springs Powwow – October 10, 10:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
A thirty-two-foot tipi, archeological displays, White Shaman Panel presentations, and amazing dancers were part of the 2014 Sacred Springs Powwow that celebrates the Native American culture that has been part of the San Marcos area for thousands of years. Read about the 2014 Powwow here. Meadows Center (previously Aquarena Center), 201 San Marcos Springs Dr., San Marcos 78666.
Texas Book Festival – October 17-18
One of the largest and most prestigious literary festivals in the country, the annual Texas Book Festival features 250+ nationally and critically recognized authors, 20+ venues including the State Capitol, 80+ exhibitors, live music, local food trucks, family activities, and countless opportunities to meet authors and fellow book lovers. The Texas Book Festival Weekend is free and open to the public and takes place in Austin, Texas, at the State Capitol and surrounding grounds.
Formula One Fan Fest – October 23-25
Last year, the Circuit of The Americas, host to the Formula 1 United States Grand Prix, planned a lineup of interactive displays, live musical performances, racing-themed areas and more for the third annual “turbo-charged street festival,” Fan Fest. The FREE, three-day festival in downtown Austin, included music on four stages, a Kid Zone, pumpkin patch, food trucks, beer gardens, and more. For more information about last year’s Fest, read our article here.
Hairy Man Festival – October 24, 11 a.m. – 5 p.m.
The Hairy Man Festival is a family-oriented festival that includes an arts and crafts area with numerous artisans participating. There are special performances and live music by local groups and organizations on the Festival Stage. Judged by local community leaders, the festival closes out with the legendary ‘Hairiest Man’ contest. Admission to the festival is two non-perishable food items (or $2 per person) to go to local food banks. Cat Hollow Park, 8600 O’Connor Dr., Round Rock 78681.
AirFest – 2015 date TBD
Head up to Georgetown to see dozens of World War II-era planes and a wide variety of other aircraft. Check out our article about the 2014 AirFest here. Admission to AirFest is free, but attendees are encouraged to bring a canned food donation for The Caring Place. Georgetown Municipal Airport, 500 Terminal Drive, Georgetown 78628.
East Austin Studio Tour – November 14-15 & 21-22, 11:00 a.m. – 6:00 p.m.
EAST is a free, 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. To read more about last year’s event, check out our post here.
Austin’s New Year – December 31, 5:00 – 10:00 p.m.
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 and other festive performances. Auditorium Shores. NOTE: Information is not yet available about the 2015 Austin’s New Year Festival.