If you are going to Austin City Limits for either the first time or you are thinking about it, this is the article for you. There are no stupid questions here as this is meant to be your crash course for Austin City Limits. The main goal for this article is to get you acquainted with the festival, where it is, what its about and all that good stuff. Let’s get to it.
Let’s start with the basics! Austin City Limits is a music festival held in Austin, TX every fall. The festival first began in 2002 and has grown over the years to now be one of the biggest music festivals in the country.
Austin City Limits has a musical lineup featuring dozens of artists so there is surely something for everyone. The festival is mainly rock and indie but also features hip-hop, electronic and folk music.
Austin City Limits occurs in Zilker Park, which is a couple miles south of downtown Austin. This is a great location for a music festival as you can stay in Austin and take a shuttle from downtown to the festival. The location of Zilker Park in relation to downtown Austin is shown below.
This can vary every year obviously. Typically the festival stretches over two weekends in October. Usually it is the first and second weekend of October, but sometimes it can vary from this time. For example, in 2017 Austin City Limits will be October 6-8th and October 13th-15th.
Yes, Austin City limits has grown so much that in 2012 the city of Austin approved the change to add a second weekend of Austin City Limits. The festival features essentially the same lineup each weekend, so you will see the same artists regardless of the weekend you attend. Like most music festivals, weekend one will be a little more busy and crazy and weekend two will be slightly chiller. That’s not to say weekend two of Austin City Limits is not packed, you can still expect over 80,000 a day, but it is slightly less than weekend one. You will have a blast and a similar experience regardless of which weekend you attend Austin City Limits.
Typically the festival is announced in early May. For example, in 2016 the festival lineup was announced on May 5th, 2016.
For everything you need to know about Austin City Limits tickets we have written an article discussing absolutely everything about tickets here.
Yes, Austin City Limits does a limited presale usually about 1 or 2 weeks after that years festival takes place. For example, this past year had early bird tickets go on sale on October 17th. Early bird tickets this past year were $240 which included all of the fees with the tickets. You should note that when you buy the early bird tickets there is no lineup announced so you are purchasing tickets blind.
If you aren’t on a tight budget you should stay in downtown Austin. There are shuttles from downtown Austin, TX to Austin City Limits for free. You can also enjoy everything the bustling city of Austin has to offer which is nice. If you are trying to save some money there are definitely cheaper areas to stay. Austin doesn’t have the best public transportation in the world so I wouldn’t recommend staying too far from the city unless you have someone willing to drive each day. You can see all of the hotels we track for Austin City Limits at ACL page.
No, there is no camping at Zilker Park where Austin City Limits takes place. There is camping around areas of Austin but not at the actual festival.
Not to keep plugging our own links but we wrote an in-depth article on all the options for getting to Austin City Limits. You can see it here. The important thing to keep in mind is there is no Uber or Lyft, so plan accordingly. There is a free shuttle if you are staying downtown. Biking is also a great option for getting to ACL. There is NO parking at Zilker Park, so don't plan on driving.
The festival has near half a million people attend the festival each year between the two weekends. Each day has roughly 80,000 people a day attending Austin City Limits.
Everyday Austin City Limits will open at 11 a.m. and run until 10 p.m.
Headliners will usually play for between 1.5 and 2 hours. Undercard bands usually get between 45-60 minutes for their sets. You can see a sample of set list times from 2015 below. This is a couple years old but Austin City Limits still follows this same sort of scheduling.