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Austin: Calendar of Events

Many of Austin's festivals capitalize on its large community of local musicians and/or on the great outdoors. The major annual events are listed here. Additional local events may also be found by logging on to,, and


Red Eye Regatta, Austin Yacht Club, Lake Travis. The bracing lake air at this keelboat race should help cure what ails you from the night before. tel. 512/266-1336; New Year's Day.


Carnival Brasileiro, Palmer Events Center. Conga lines, elaborate costumes, samba bands, and confetti are all part of this sizzling Carnavale-style event, started in 1975 by homesick Brazilian students at the University of Texas. tel. 512/452-6832; First or second Saturday of February.


Kite Festival, Zilker Park. Colorful handmade kites fill the sky during this popular annual contest, one of the oldest of its kind in the country. tel. 512/647-7488; First Sunday in March.

South by Southwest (SXSW) Music and Media Conference & Festival. The Austin Music Awards kick off this huge conference, which organizes hundreds of concerts at more than two dozen city venues. Aspiring music-industry and high-tech professionals sign up months in advance. tel. 512/467-7979; Usually around third week in March (during University of Texas's spring break).

Star of Texas Fair and Rodeo, Travis County Exposition Center. This 2-week Wild West extravaganza features rodeos, cattle auctions, a youth fair, a parade down Congress Avenue, and lots of live country music. tel. 512/919-3000; Mid- to late March.

Jerry Jeff Walker's Birthday Weekend, various locations. Each year, singer/songwriter Walker performs at such venues as the Broken Spoke and the Paramount Theatre; proceeds of related events -- perhaps a silent auction or golf tournament -- benefit a foundation to establish a music school for at-risk youth. It's a good cause -- and the man knows how to throw a party. tel. 512/477-0036; Late March, early April.

Statesman Capitol 10,000. Texas's largest 10K race winds its way from the state capitol through West Austin, ending up at Town Lake. tel. 512/445-3598; Late March, early April.


Austin Fine Arts Festival, Republic Square. The major fundraiser for the Austin Museum of Art, this show features a large juried art show, local musicians, and lots of kids' activities. tel. 512/458-6073; First weekend in April.

Saveur Texas Hill Country Wine and Food Festival (most events at the Four Seasons Hotel). Book a month in advance for the cooking demonstrations, beer, wine, and food tasting, and celebrity chef dinners. For the food fair, just turn up with an appetite. tel. 512/542-WINE; Third or fourth weekend in April.

Old Settlers Music Festival, Salt Lick BBQ Pavilion. More than two dozen bluegrass bands descend on nearby Driftwood to take part in this Americana roots music fest, which also includes songwriter workshops, arts and crafts booths, and children's entertainment. tel. 512/346-0999, ext. 3; Mid- to late April.


Old Pecan Street Spring Arts and Crafts Festival, Sixth Street. Eat and shop your way along Austin's restored Victorian main street while bands play in the background. tel. 512/441-9015; First weekend in May.

Cinco de Mayo Music Festival, Fiesta Gardens and other locations. NorteɁo, Tejano, and other rousing music, as well as food, arts and crafts, and competitions -- for example, a jalapeɁo eating contest -- are all part of this 4-day family-friendly event to celebrate Hispanic culture. tel. 512/867-1999; Around May 5.

O. Henry Museum Pun-Off, O. Henry Museum. One of the "punniest" events around, this annual battle of the wits is for a wordy cause -- the upkeep of the O. Henry Museum. tel. 512/472-1903; Mid-May.


Juneteenth, various venues, mostly in East Austin. The celebration of African-American emancipation, which became a Texas state holiday in 1980, generally includes a parade, gospel singing, and many children's events. The best source of information is the George Washington Carver Museum and Cultural Center. tel. 512/472-4809; June 19.


Austin Symphony Orchestra, Auditorium Shores. Cannons, fireworks, and of course a rousing rendition of the "1812 Overture" contribute to the fun at this noisy freedom celebration. tel. 888/4-MAESTRO or 512/476-6064; July 4th.


Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, Waterloo Park. The largest hot-sauce contest in the world features more than 300 salsa entries, judged by celebrity chefs and food editors. The bands that play this super party are muy caliente, too. tel. 512/454-5766; Last Sunday in August.


Fall Jazz Festival, Zilker Hillside Theater. Zilker Park swings with 2 days of free concerts by top local jazz acts. tel. 512/442-2263. Second weekend of September.

Diez y Seis, Plaza Saltillo and other sites. Mariachis and folk dancers, conjunto and Tejano music, as well as fajitas, piɁatas, and clowns, help celebrate Mexico's independence from Spain. The highlight is the crowning of the Fiestas Patrias Queen. tel. 512/974-2264 for Plaza Saltillo events; 512/476-7502 for other events. Four days usually starting around September 16.

Austin City Limits Music Festival, Zilker Park. Yet more evidence of Austin's devotion to live music, this 3-day music extravaganza kicked off in 2002 and has grown exponentially every year since. Expect a superb lineup of musical talent. tel. 866/GO-AUSTIN; Late September.


Austin Film Festival, Paramount Theatre and other venues. If you like the idea of sitting in the dark and watching 80 films in 8 days -- everything from restored classics to new indie releases -- or are an aspiring screenwriter or filmmaker, this one's for you. tel. 800/310-FEST or 512/478-4795; Eight days in mid-October.

Texas Book Festival, State Capitol. One of the largest literary events in the Southwest, this 2-day fundraiser for Texas public libraries draws literati from all over the U.S., though Texas authors rule the roost. tel. 512/477-4055; Late October.

Halloween, Sixth Street. Nearly 100,000 costumed revelers take over 7 blocks of historic Sixth Street. tel. 866/GO-AUSTIN. October 31.


Chuy's Christmas Parade, Congress Avenue. With giant balloons, marching bands, floats, and gifts for needy kids, what better way is there to ring in the season? tel. 888/439-2489; Saturday after Thanksgiving.


Zilker Park Tree Lighting. The lighting of a magnificent 165-foot tree is followed by the Trail of Lights, a mile-long display of life-size holiday scenes. This being Austin, a 5K run is also involved. tel. 512/974-6700; First Sunday of the month (tree lighting); second Sunday through December 23 (Trail of Lights).

Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, Austin Music Hall. Revel in Tex-Mex food, live music, and a full bar at this high-quality art, craft, and gift show. tel. 512/447-1605; Begins approximately 2 weeks before Christmas.

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