13 Can’t-Miss Fall Festivals in Austin Besides ACL
13 Can’t-Miss Fall Festivals in Austin Besides ACL
Find a little something for everyone at one of these city-wide celebrations
By Holly Cowart
If you live in the Austin area, you’ve likely been anticipating the arrival of Austin City Limits for months now. However, if you’re making the decision to forgo the mega music fest at Zilker this year, don’t think that you’ve missed out on all the action. Festival season in Austin doesn’t end with ACL — it’s really just getting started. Fall brings cooler nights and an abundance of community holidays and celebrations. Take a look at our list of favorites below to discover impressive local lineups, unique art experiences and more budget-friendly alternatives heading to town.
October 6 – 15, Women & Their Work
Whether you love finding new pieces to decorate your space with or simply enjoy browsing gallery walls, Red Dot makes it easy to connect with the local arts community. Showcasing more than 150 works from a skilled slate of contemporary female artists, the spree itself will take place on Oct. 6, while the exhibition will remain on display and open to the public through Oct. 15. Peek at the catalog ahead of time and get first dibs with the VIP Pre-Spree pass! Proceeds will go towards Women & Their Work’s impactful art education programs.
October 8, Fareground
While the first day of ACL is in full swing, downtown food hall Fareground will host a mini-fest of its own from 4 to 6 p.m. Known for housing some of Austin’s best restaurants, visitors can pick up a passport and embark on a culinary exploration of award-winning cuisines from across the globe. Stop by each station and collect a stamp while feasting on dishes from the likes of Hestia, La Pagosa, Little Wu and more. And don’t forget to kick the weekend off right with specialty sips from onsite bars DRINK and Ellis, which will host a wine tasting on its spacious patio.
October 8, Mohawk Austin
It may not be in the name, but I’ve experienced Quesoff firsthand and it definitely checks the festival boxes. An unabashed celebration of melty, cheesy goodness, Mohawk makes for a fun destination to dive into some of the best dips in town. Everyone from top restaurant groups to acclaimed chefs to seasoned home cooks will battle it out through four competitions — Meaty, Spicy, Veggie and Wild Card — before one is crowned Best in Show by a panel of judges. Plus, when the house queso is made by Franklin Barbecue, you know it’s going to be legit. Funds from the day will once again benefit the Central Texas Food Bank.
October 14 – 16, Reveille Peak Ranch
The founders of UTOPiAfest left out all of the things they dislike about music festivals to form an immersive, community-focused weekend of live performances and memorable experiences. Located at the nature-filled Reveille Peak Ranch roughly an hour away from Austin, visitors can expect outdoor camping and activities, artisan vendors, cool workshops and two main stages of talented local acts without the overlap, so no song goes unheard. It’ll be impossible to leave without a few new like-minded friends and a whole new appreciation for our vibrant arts scene.
October 15, TLC Austin
Who doesn’t love a fest that’s free to attend? Round up all of your oyster-loving friends and head to TLC on South Lamar for a spectacle of seafood. Guests can sample from delicious fried, raw and grilled East Coast and Gulf oyster varieties, while enjoying music by Lila and Sofia from 12 to 5 p.m. Enthusiasts can also flex their chops at shucking and eating competitions with cash prizes. When you’re sufficiently stuffed, head next door to Alamo Drafthouse for an evening movie.
October 27 – 30, Multiple Locations
Spend Halloween weekend hopping around Austin’s best music venues at LEVITATION Fest. Started by members of The Black Angels (who will also headline on Sunday), the jam-packed lineup of psychedelic rock artists will take over stages throughout the Red River Cultural District. However, you might want to hurry — GA 4-day passes are already sold out, with only individual show tickets and pricier Deluxe Stubb’s 4-day passes left.
October 27 – November 3, Multiple Locations
At the passion-fueled Austin Film Festival, movie buffs and industry experts unite for eight days of pre-release screenings, exciting Q&As and high-profile appearances all across downtown. Meanwhile the Writers Conference, which takes place the first four days of the fest, makes an excellent opportunity to network with in-depth panels, select parties and meet and greets. It’s as epic as it sounds, and the customizable ticket packages make it more flexible for varying budgets.
Oct. 28 – Nov. 6, Luck Reunion
I love any excuse to make my way to Luck Ranch, Willie Nelson’s one-of-a-kind 500-acre property in Spicewood. For the first time ever, Luck Presents is celebrating the season in style with 10 days of music performances and holiday-themed programming that sound too good to be true. Attendees can purchase week-long or day passes for access to events, including an outlaw masquerade ball with Orville Peck, a Halloween family night headlined by Matthew Logan Vasquez, a festive AAPI Night Market, an LGBTQIA+ fashion and variety show and much, much more. Some advice: make sure to buy a parking or shuttle pass ahead of time for an easier commute to the venue.
October 29, 4th St. & Congress Ave.
Mexic-Arte Museum’s time-honored tradition returns to the streets of downtown Austin on Oct. 29. Ahead of Día de los Muertos, which takes place annually on Nov. 1 and 2, festivities will begin with a colorful Grand Procession marching through the streets and culminate in a full-on block party with live performances, an Education Pavilion filled with DIY arts and crafts, the slickest lowriders in Austin and more than 20 holiday-inspired vendors.
October 29, Mueller Lake Park
Attention fellow dog people: a festival catered to you and your furry friends is coming to town! Taking place at the beautiful Mueller Lake Park from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Puptopia returns with an adorable day of pet-focused entertainment on the Main Stage, obstacle courses, a luxurious puppy spa, awesome vendors and enough photo ops to keep your dog’s Instagram stocked. Buy tickets early for $5 off, which secures entry for one person and up to two pups.
Through October 31, Dr. Pound Historical Farmstead
Grab friends and family and take a short day trip out to Dripping Springs for this annual pumpkin-centric party. With loads of lawn games, live music from 100.1 Sun Radio, craft markets, art activations, seasonal food menus and more, it’s the perfect celebration of all-things fall. Plan ahead for specialty attractions during the weekends, including a visit from esteemed pumpkin sculptor Deane Arnold on Oct. 22 and 23.
November 4 – 6, Auditorium Shores & Republic Square Park
I’ve got some really good news for Austin foodies — the ultimate culinary extravaganza is back with even more unforgettable dishes. The not-so-good news? Most ticket options are already sold out, leaving just the All-In passes for those looking to splurge at $625. To be fair, the in-demand ticket does come with access to the brand new Wurst Weekend Kickoff, award-worthy food from more than 50 top restaurants, intimate cooking demos and tastings with lauded chefs and mixologists, the prestigious live Fire Pit cookout and Saturday’s more exclusive Rock Your Taco event, which is a mouthwatering gourmet taco showdown.
November 5 & 6, Texas State Capitol Grounds
Texas’ highly-anticipated literary fête will arrive at the capitol grounds this November with another outstanding lineup of events and authors, including Robert Draper, Sandra Brown, Omar Epps and Vishwesh Bhatt. Always free and open to the public, visitors will be able to purchase festival books onsite, check out the Exhibitor Marketplace, meet their favorite authors and interact with a prominent community of book lovers firsthand. There’s something for everyone to discover, but take a look at scheduling early since some author sessions will need prior registration to attend.
Bonus: Oktoberfest In Austin
Oktoberfest has been raging on since late September, bringing a bevy of Bavarian-inspired traditions and events to town. Make the most of the rest of the holiday with revelry still to come, from impressive polka performances to festive dining and drinking destinations:
October 6 – 8, Banger’s Sausage House
October 8, German-Texan Heritage Society
October 8, The Brewtorium
October 21 & 22, Long Center
Through October 30, Koko’s Bavarian
November 4 – 13, New Braunfels