While the Houston rodeo has long been the stuff of legend, Austin’s “where weird meets western” has done a remarkable job of putting together a slate of events that appeal to just about everyone. Sure, there’s the bull riding and the steer wrestling, the mutton bustin’ and the team roping -- it’s a rodeo after all -- but it also kicks off with a huge (free) Cowboy Breakfast at the Long2 Center. There'll also be a diverse music lineup (hi there Melissa Etheridge!), a full-on carnival, a Taste of Texas culinary tent, and a glittery gala.
The Blanton Museum of Art
If, like many Austinites, you just haven’t “found the time” to check out the Blanton lately, perhaps a free all-day-to-night festival will get your rear in gear. Free admission to all galleries, local food, a photo booth, and interactive family-friendly activities like printmaking. There’s also tons of live music from folks like Beat Root Revival, Kalu James, Carrie Rodriguez, and Los Coast interspersed with spoken-word performances and poetry readings. It’s a party at the museum, y’all.
One of the most magical things that happens in Austin, the Kite Festival is pure fun and frivolity. Bring your own kite if you have one, build one there, or just bring a blanket and stare at a sky filled with swooping rainbow-colored beauties. For people with kids, there’s also the MossFest children’s concert. Encouraging a love of outdoor spaces and music is basically your civic duty as an Austinite. Zilker Kite Fest is the country’s longest-running festival of its kind.
Fiesta Gardens & Distribution Hall
Austin has long been a haven for people who lean on the veggie side of life, and this volunteer-run festival celebrates all of that with over 100 vendors, exhibitors, and sponsors. This year, in addition to delicious food, tons of activities, live music, wellness booths, and demos, they’ve added a Sunday market day! Come to the festival for excellent bites by folks like Tapatio Vegan Tacos, Southern Roots Vegan, Thunderbird, and Pan’s Mushroom Jerky plus on-site yoga, guided meditation, and a dedicated kids area. Come to the market to support local and stock your pantry.
Cost: Free (or $5 for a swag bag)
Congress Avenue to Auditorium Shores
Way back in 1978, the Cap10K had 3,400 participants; now in its 43rd year, it’s the largest 10K in Texas and the sixth largest in the nation. It’s not your average 10K -- this is Austin after all -- so expect families, dogs, and bedazzled runners in the mix. There'll be live bands along the route and often-hilarious signage, and the whole thing is capped off with a party (of course). The Finish Line Festival features food trucks, live music, a kids zone, race vendors, and a beer garden.
Other than Flamingo Cantina, we’re a city that’s starved of on-the-regular reggae -- which is why the Austin reggae festival is so essential, with three days of incredible music by the water along with international food and arts and crafts vendors. Headliners for the 2020 event include The Expendables, Collie Buddz, Kabaka Pyramid, Julian Marley & The Uprising, plus a ton of other artists. You’ll be enjoying yourself for a good cause too: proceeds benefit the Central Texas Food Bank, and the event has raised more than $1,000,000 in the past. Oh, and the people-watching is prime.
Republic Square Park
For 70 years, Art City Austin has been gracing us with beauty. It’s the city’s second oldest outdoor fair in Austin, and each year it brings in gorgeous, innovative, thought-provoking, diverse art. Held at the newly renovated Republic Square, Art City features approximately 80 hand-selected artists, artisans, makers, and designers exhibiting and selling their masterpieces. And that’s not all folks: There’s also live music, food, entertainment, and a cash bar. If you’re feeling fancy, get a first look at the market at the Viva Fiesta Art Preview Party.