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An Insider’s Guide to Austin City Limits Music Festival 2022

All the can’t-miss artists, tasty food options and tips you need to know before attending the annual fest

Bad news: Zilker Park has temporarily closed its gates. Good news: it’s because the grounds are once again being prepared for the double weekend extravaganza that is the Austin City Limits Music Festival.

With expected crowds of 75,000 per day and more than 120 musical acts ready to perform, planning your trip can feel overwhelming to say the least, but, as the reigning Mayor of ACL, a 10-year ACL attendant and a local musician, I know a thing or two about the fest. Here’s my day-by day guide on how to have the best possible Austin City Limits experience.

Friday, October 7 and Friday, Oct. 14

If you are fortunate enough to have a day off of work on Friday (or can play a little game of hooky), I always suggest getting to the park sooner rather than later. Not only will you beat the massive lines, you’ll also have a chance to catch Austin legends Asleep at the Wheel during the first weekend of the fest or the incredibly talented Huston-Tillotson University Jazz Collective on Weekend 2, both playing at 1 p.m.

Asleep at the Wheel by Chad Wadsworth

Other early Friday acts to check out are Kevin Morby and Gabriels on Weekend 1, plus Wet Leg and Sarah Kinsley on Weekend 2.

Somewhere between all that amazing live music, you’ll work up an appetite. I like to kick off my ACL Eats experience with a Mighty Cone. One of the only food vendors that has been present at every ACL since its start in 2002, this cone-shaped tortilla is stuffed with your choice of fried chicken or fried avocado, plus delicious fixings, like mango-jalapeño slaw and ancho-chili aioli. It’s delicious and portable so you can enjoy it on the way to the next set.

After that tasty snack, mozy over to watch R&B songstress Jazmine Sullivan at 4:15 p.m. Her latest album, Heaux Tales, was one of my favorite releases of the last year. Another couple of standout sets in the late afternoon and early evening will be French disco troupe L’Impératrice, Austin-based alt-rockers Sarah and the Sundays (Weekend 1), and gen-z pop superstar Conan Gray (Weekend 2).

As the day ends on Friday, festival-goers have lots of options to work with. There’s production mastermind James Blake (Weekend 1), indie rock stars Phoenix (Weekend 2), beloved singer-songwriter Nathaniel Rateliff, bubble-gum pop icon Carly Rae Jepsen (Weekend 1) or latin neo-soul artist Omar Apollo. Take your pick!

The Chicks and SZA will close out Friday, and unfortunately, they’re playing in a head-to-head time slot. I can’t tell you who to pick between because, honestly, I’m having a hard time myself. I guess that’s why we have two weekends!

Saturday, Oct. 8 and Saturday, Oct. 15

Once again, I encourage you to get to the grounds early. Avoid those lines at all costs! Kicking off the day’s festivities is Austin’s very own rap goddess Mama Duke (Weekend 1) and cumbia psych-pop outfit Como Las Movies (Weekend 2).

More early Saturday shows to check out include The Aquadolls (Weekend 1), Sloppy Jane (Weekend 2), Samia and Disko Cowboy’s country DJ set.

Another ACL Eats staple that I love is Chi’Lantro, specifically their signature Kimchi Fries. These mouth-watering fries are topped with caramelized kimchi, onions, spicy pork, Sriracha and Chi’Lantro’s famous Magic Sauce. They’re a perfect snack to share with your festival crew as you wait for the next band to come on, or you can take down a full order on your own — I won’t judge!

Later in the day, I can’t wait to indulge my inner child with former Disney stars turned indie sensations Aly & AJ (Weekend 1). You could also dance the day away with EDM duo Sofi Tukker, or get a little emo with pop-punk band The Front Bottoms (Weekend 2).

Saturday evening is star-studded with alt-rock giants like The War on Drugs and Death Cab for Cutie (Weekend 2), and world class DJs like Diplo, Flume and Big Gigantic (Weekend 2).

Photo by Greg Noire

However, I’m most excited for P!NK. I’m counting down the days until I can watch her aerial dancing as I scream along to hits like So What, Raise Your Glass and God is a DJ with 30,000 of my closest friends.

Sunday, Oct. 9 and Sunday, Oct. 16

It’s the final day, so make the most of your time by being an early bird! I’m going to start my Sunday with some homegrown gospel courtesy of Wesley Bray and The Disciples of Joy (Weekend 1) and The Spiritualettes (Weekend 2). There’s also seasoned Austin-based acts like Primo The Alien (Weekend 1) and Me Nd Adam (Weekend 2), who just opened for The Killers at Moody Center.

For lunch, I suggest partaking in multiple booths, it is the last day after all! Balance out the decadence of Lonesome Dove’s Truffle Mac and Cheese with some much needed nutrients from the acai bowl masters at Blenders and Bowls. You could also grab some juicy brisket from The Original Black’s Barbecue or pick up a slice from Southside Flying Pizza.

Photo by Jackie Lee Young

Sunday afternoon has some of my favorite bands of both weekends. There’s indie-pop supergroup Muna (Weekend 1), alt-country songstress Faye Webster (Weekend 2), groovy synth pop from Magdelena Bay and The Marias and hometown heroes Spoon.

Of course, they are saving the very best for last. Two of my biggest musical inspirations are Kacey Musgraves and Hayley Williams, of Paramore, and we get to see them both on the same day? Is this real life? I’m also thrilled to get the chance to see Marcus Mumford’s fantastic new solo record live as well. These shows will be fitting ends to your incredible weekend of music.

I hope this ACL crash course has given you some much-needed preparation and made you as excited for the festival as I am.

Photo by Sydney Gawlik

I’ll leave you with these final tips:

  • Wear sunscreen.
  • Pick a meeting spot for the end of the night for you and your friends. Cell service is scarce and it’s easy to lose people.
  • Keep your eye out for the Bonus Tracks stage. They have had some incredible cameos in the past, like Brené Brown and Billie Eilish.
  • Be kind.

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