Austin City Limits Music Festival ‘Survival’ Guide: Everything you need to know before going
AUSTIN (KXAN) — The music’s back! It’s finally the week that Austin City Limits Music Festival starts. If you’re going, how should you prepare?
The City of Austin has helped put together guidance for festival-goers to have the best possible experience. Below is everything you need to know to help you plan for the festival.
Regardless of whether you’re going to the festival, you’ll probably be impacted by traffic if your commute takes you near downtown Austin’s Zilker Park. But don’t fret! There’s an interactive map of park access and road closures online, and a calendar of when they’ll happen (spoiler alert: it’s basically all of the park and the roads surrounding it).
Getting to ACL Festival grounds
Attendees have several options of how to get to festival grounds, including a free shuttle service provided by ACL.
- Shuttle: A free shuttle service will board at Republic Square, at the corner of 4th and San Antonio streets, and drop riders off outside the Barton Springs West Festival entrance.
The shuttle will also provide trips back downtown each night.
Shuttles will run from Republic Square starting at noon on Friday, and 11 a.m. on Saturday and Sunday both weekends of the festival.
- Bus: CapMetro’s trip planner tool can be utilized to find a bus ride from wherever you are to Zilker, but the most direct route to ACL Fest is MetroRapid 803.
- Hike-and-Bike Trail: The Hike-and-Bike Trail at Lady Bird Lake will be open, and you can walk or bike straight to festival grounds from one of the many entry points along the 10-mile trail. Bring a light, and remember that motorized vehicles are not allowed on the trail.
- Bicycle: Aside from the Hike-and-Bike Trail, there are designated bike routes around the festival.
- Micromobility: Bird, Lime, LINK, and Wheels are all options for electric micromobility in Austin. If you take a scooter or e-bike to ACL, be sure to drop it off in a designated drop-off area before entering the grounds.
- Rideshare: Pickup and drop-off points will be located near the MoPac Expressway at Veterans, Lee Barton, and Wallingwood drives. Plan on making the rest of the way to the grounds yourself.
Though food and drinks are prohibited from being brought into the grounds, attendees can still expect to eat and drink well at the festival, with nearly 40 food vendors that will be set up.
Included in the mix this year are some fan-favorites like Voodoo Doughnut, Amy’s Ice Cream, and Mama Fried. Read the full list of vendors on ACL’s website.
Free water bottle refill stations are available on the grounds as well.
A major factor in planning for ACL is weather. The forecast is subject to change, but so far, the forecast shows plenty of sunshine and fair-weather clouds, with temperatures expected to be in the mid-80s to 90s, but it’ll likely feel warmer with the large amount of people that will be in the park.
Check the forecast ahead of the festival for the most updated information.
Since it’ll be warm and sunny, you should wear sunscreen, the appropriate clothing, and shoes that are comfortable for extended standing and walking.
Zilker Park has some rules that you should know.
- Glass and styrofoam are not allowed on park grounds
- No outside alcohol is allowed on site
- Swimming in Lady Bird Lake is prohibited
- Smoking and vaping is prohibited in City of Austin parks. Violators are subject to a Class C misdemeanor
- Vending at the park site without a permit will result in a $200 minimum fine – a Class C misdemeanor
First responders’ guidance
Austin Fire Department
The Austin Fire Department is warning drivers to be aware of a large volume of pedestrians sharing the roadway during the festival and reminding drivers that if there’s an emergency response in the area, give right-of-way to allow emergency vehicles access.
AFD also implores people to dispose of smoking materials safely. The department will be on-site to ensure all fire code requirements are met.
Austin-Travis County EMS
ATCEMS will provide on-site medical resources at the festival. If you or someone you’re with experiences a medical emergency and can make it to the medical tent, please do so. If unable, call 9-1-1 and provide as many details about where the medics need to go to reach the patient as quickly as possible.
ATCEMS asks that people consume alcohol in moderation and avoid using illicit substances. Also, do not take pills which have not been prescribed to you or are legally dispensed from a licensed pharmacy.
Austin Police Department
APD is conducting a No Refusal Initiative that will coincide with the festival. It will be in effect from Oct. 6 to Oct. 16 daily from 9:30 p.m. to 5:30 a.m. The purpose is to enforce DWI laws, keep the public safe by encouraging drivers to make responsible decisions, and to apply for blood search warrants on suspects who refuse to provide a breath or blood specimen, APD said.
The department says to always pay attention to your surroundings, especially in crowds, and keep your phone and ID/credit cards/cash in separate places on your person.
APD suggests not keeping your phone in your back pocket. Phones sticking out of back pockets or backpacks are not secure. Keep property in a secure location (front pocket, fanny pack) or leave it at home.
If something is stolen from you, use APD’s online reporting site or Austin 311 (non-emergency) to report theft.
You can also register for the ACL Lost and Found to report or attempt to locate a lost cell phone.
Communication during the festival
The City of Austin will utilize Twitter and Facebook to push out relevant information.
The Austin Police Department, Austin-Travis County EMS, Austin Fire Department, and Austin Emergency Management will also use their Twitter feeds for time-sensitive notifications.
Communicate your anticipated whereabouts ahead of time in case cell phone coverage is intermittent at the festival.
Make sure your phone is fully charged when you arrive.
Stay aware of your surroundings.
What can I bring? What’s not allowed?
Items that are ALLOWED:
- Bags that fit these criteria: clear plastic, clear vinyl, or clear pvc which do not exceed 12″ x 12″ x 6″. MORE: ACL Bag policy
- Small clutch purses, fanny packs with no more than 1 pocket. Clutch purses no larger than 4.5″ x 5.5
- Empty reusable water bottles and hydration packs, and plastic or aluminum water bottles
- Baby strollers
- Blankets, sheets, towels
- Cameras (basic point and shoot consumer-grade cameras) without detachable lenses and other accessories (monopods, selfie sticks, tripods, GoPro mounts, and other attachments are not allowed)
- Personal-sized hand sanitizer
- Sunscreen in non-aerosol containers is allowed in the size of 3.4 ounces or less
- Totems (Less than 7 feet tall, and less than 1 inch in diameter. Must be made of light material: swim noodles, foam type material, cardboard tubes, fabric, light plastic, balloons, aluminum and/or blow up items)
Items that are NOT ALLOWED:
- Any bags that are not clear or are larger than 12″ x 12″ x 6″. Any hydration packs with more than 2 pockets
- Aerosol containers, including sunscreen and personal beauty products
- Coolers of any kind (Exceptions may be made for medical use)
- Framed backpacks, multiple pocket back packs and any pack that is not aligned with the allowed backpacks above
- Any and all professional audio recording equipment
- Professional cameras and professional recording (photo, video, audio) equipment (NO large professional detachable zoom lenses, stands, monopods, tripods, attachment sticks (selfie sticks) or other commercial equipment
- Any and all professional video equipment. No video recording will be allowed
- Drones or any other remote flying device
- Glass containers of any kind
- Illegal and Illicit substances of any kind
- Outside food or beverage (including alcohol) of any kind
- Pets (except service animals)
- Selfie sticks
- Skateboards, scooters, bicycles, wagons, carts or any personal motorized vehicles
- Tents, canopies, or shade structures of any kind
- Unauthorized/unlicensed vendors are not allowed. No unauthorized solicitation and materials including handbills, flyers, stickers, beach balls, give-aways, samples, etc.
- Weapons or explosives of any kind
- Large chains or spiked jewelry
- Bicycles inside festival grounds (free parking is available near festival entrance)
- Carts of any kind (including Red Wagons)
Prescription medication and items for dietary restrictions
Outside food and drink is not allowed inside the festival however, if a patron has special medical dietary restrictions, items will be allowed. It is recommended that patrons speak to the Security Manager and Medical Team members at the festival entry gate who can assist them.
Patrons are allowed to bring medically necessary materials and medications into the festival if they meet these guidelines:
- Prescriptions are in their original container
- Only one type of medication is present, and the bottle contains only the appropriate amount of medication necessary while in attendance
- Prescriptions are not expired
- The patron’s name is on the prescription bottle and is verified with an ID
Medications that require refrigeration can be brought to the medical tent for storage, after adhering to verification.
Austin City Limits streaming
If you don’t have access to the festival, you can still have access to the musical acts. Hulu will live stream the festival this and next weekend.
Behind-the-scenes footage will also be released, Hulu said.
“Hulu and Live Nation are both committed to delivering exceptional entertainment to fans, so we are thrilled to be collaborating with them, again, as we expand our offering to include these three legendary festivals,” said Hulu President Joe Earley in a previous release. “Each event is unique, but all three bring people together for incredible music, artistry, and experiences, which we are fortunate to be able to share with Hulu subscribers.”
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