Everything You Need to Do in Austin This Spring

Published On 04/25/2018 Published On 04/25/2018
Anderson Paak performs at South by South West | stock_photo_world/
SXSW Film Festival | John Pesina/
Mar 1
The Blanton Museum
The Blanton is worth a visit any time of the year, but American Color Field master Ellsworth Kelly’s last installation piece, which has been under construction for years, is slated to finish this spring. Stop by for a free tour and a discussion of what has already become an influential art space. 
Cost: Free admission on Thursdays
Saturday - Sunday
Mar 3-Apr 22
Sherwood Forest
Sherwood Forest is one of Austin’s strangest attractions, a full-scale old English-style village plopped down right in the middle of Texas hill country. See it at its best during this annual renaissance far, where knights and fair ladies alike can admire jousting, watch people make chainmail, and, of course, consume turkey legs the size of their heads.
Cost: $12-$22
Mar 4
Black Sheep Lodge
This year marks the 90th anniversary of the Oscar Awards. Why not celebrate in style at the Black Sheep Lodge? With Oscars trivia, a red carpet walk (with prizes for best dressed) and more, it’s sure to be a star-studded extravaganza.
Cost: Free!
Mar 8
The Volstead/Hotel Vegas
Celebrating seven years of being the East Side’s go-to venue for dancing, drinking, and seeing our friends' bands play when they come through Austin, the Volstead and Hotel Vegas have put together 77 acts on seven stages, plus some dirt-cheap food and drink specials.
Cost: Free with RSVP, doors open at 1pm; $1.77 Lone Star Light tallboys, Deep Eddy cocktails, and hot dogs until 7pm.
Mar 9
One World Theatre
In a day-long, multi-artist mini festival celebrating Austin’s LGBTQ+ scene, Gaysha will celebrate victories, raise awareness of the struggles to come, and gather the community for a joyful celebration of equal rights for all.
Cost: $25
Friday - Thursday
Mar 9-8
Various locations
Austin turns into even more of a chaotic mess than normal with the annual arrival of this pricey multimedia fest, but if you haven’t thrown down the exorbitant sum required for a badge or wristband, don’t worry; there’s still plenty of free shows, parties, and RSVP events you can attend. Check out Showlist Austin for a rundown of free shows, or sign up for RSVPster to get on the inside track. Then, check out our guide to the top SXSW mistakes you need to avoid, and have at it.
Cost: Varies
Saturday - Saturday
Mar 10-24
Travis County Exposition Center
You can’t call yourself a true Austinite yet if you haven’t made it out to the rodeo. For two glorious weeks in March, the Fairgrounds open for Austin’s largest carnival, featuring your standard rides and funnel cakes, with the added Texas touches of mutton busting, lots of longhorns to take pictures with, and pig races. Yes, racing pigs -- don’t miss it.
Cost: $5-$8
Dec 31-Mar 11
Kick off the biggest week in Austin music with a day-to-night lineup of local favorites, presented by KUTX and the Austin Music Alliance. Bounce between five stages at the Spiderhouse Cafe and Ballroom, jumping genres, discovering new music, and taking a break with one of their unreasonably delicious sandwiches.
Cost: Free!
Mar 12
Instagram-famous poet Cleo Wade has haters as passionate as her fans. Is she bringing poetic language to a whole new generation of readers? Lowering the state of artistic discourse with her pithy quips and cute watercolors? Come stand in the back of BookPeople and decide for yourself what the woman New York Magazine called “The Millennial Oprah” has to offer.
Cost: Free
Mar 17
St. Elmo Brewing Co.
So you’re too old/dignified to drink whole pitchers of green-dyed Budweiser, and there’s too much fun stuff to do on Sunday mornings to make switching to straight Jameson a good idea, but you’ve still gotta honor the St. Patty’s spirit, right? Fear not! With tasty eats by Soursop food truck, a wall of taps, and live music all night long, the good people of St. Elmo will help you celebrate in style.
Cost: Free!
Mar 17
Kick Butt Coffee
Escape the sceney swamp of SXSW at this no-nonsense, all ages, annual all day festival out at Kick Butt Coffee. With free beer and BBQ for all (while it lasts), and hours of live punk rock, old-school heros and young up-and-comers alike will have a chance to strap on the old Doc Martens and mosh those moody blues away
Cost: Free!
Mar 24
Austin American Statesman
You know what’s better than one dog? THOUSANDS OF DOGS, many of them in cute outfits, willing to pose with you against a wall of selfie backdrops. With a carnival costume theme, and a registration fee that comes with a T-shirt (with a dog on it, one hopes) and goodie bag, all of it benefitting the good work of Service Dogs Inc, you and your pooch are sure to give it a round of a-paws (sorry).
Cost: $15-$100
Mar 24
Craft Pride
Say sayonara to the utter chaos of SXSW with a locals-only, Austin-at-its-finest celebration, featuring a wide selection of not-for-the-faint-of-palate pepper-infused Texas craft beers, and a pepper-themed pizza from Eastside favorite Via 313. There will, of course, be live music.
Cost: Free
Thursday - Saturday
Mar 29-Apr 21
Doubletree Hilton North
For the past four years, HavenCon has been the premier destination conference for LGBTQ+ gamers, geeks, and sci-fi enthusiasts, but the organizers announced that this year will be their last hurrah. Say goodbye in style with three days of panel talks, cosplay, hangouts (including a furry meetup, if that’s your thing), and of course, many, many dance parties.
Cost: $15-$200
Friday - Saturday
Mar 30-31
Auditorium Shores
For the past 13 years, the Austin Urban Music Festival has been bringing the boogie to Auditorium Shores, with two days of live performances, dance exhibitions, and craft vendors. This year kicks off with a performance from En Vogue, and continues with performances from Vivian Green, ZAPP, and more, guaranteed to keep you on your feet all weekend long.
Cost: $40.99-$149.99
Fusebox Festival
Courtesy of Fusebox Festival
Thursday - Saturday
Apr 5-7
Vault Space
Austinites are well known for our musical sensibilities and our indie filmmaking bona fides. Fashion sense? Not so much, but with a burgeoning community of local fashion lines, we’re coming up in the world. With two full days of parties and shows, and a focus on independent and emerging designers, Austin Fashion Week is here to help.
Cost: $25-$250
Friday - Saturday
Apr 6-7
Travis County Expo Center
Every year, hot rod enthusiasts from all across Texas gather at the Travis County Expo Center for a weekend of car culture, history, art, and music. There’s a swap meet, bands playing all weekend long, and hundreds of gleaming vintage cars for you to reenact Grease in front of.
Cost: $15
Friday - Sunday
Apr 6-8
Public Spaces Across Town
For two days each spring, brass bands travel from all around the country to perform spontaneous, free public concerts in parks and other public spaces all over Austin. The genres range from Klezmer music to New Orleans-style second line brass, featuring dance performances, audience participation, and general chaotic joy.
Cost: Free!
Thursday - Sunday
Apr 5-8
Holiday Inn Midtown
Poetry’s cool now
It’s all over Instagram
Why not hear some live?
Cost: $35-$50
Tuesday - Friday
Apr 17-27
Venues throughout Austin
Every April for the past thirteen years, the Fusebox Festival has been celebrating the best of Austin’s homegrown arts, culture, and ideas. What started out as a small, underground celebration has become one of the most important cultural events, attracting artists and performers from all over the world for talks, art installations, and live performances
Cost: Free to attend, but make reservations to get at the good stuff
Wednesday - Saturday
Apr 18-21
Paramount Theatre and other downtown venues
The Moontower Comedy Festival is coming to downtown Austin for the seventh year running, bringing over a hundred performers to seven stages around town. With a full slate of local favorites, as well as out of towners like Tiffany Haddish, Tig Notaro, and even Weird-freakin-Al, it sure beats staying in and binging Netflix stand-up specials.
Cost: $99-$399
Apr 21
Private homes across Austin
Keep Austin Weird is everyone’s favorite slogan, but some folks take the concept so seriously that it shapes the places they live. Take this once-a-year chance to peep inside how the weirder half lives, from shipping containers and minimalist concrete domes to an opulent Game of Thrones-style castle.
Cost: $30-$45
Apr 23
Ever since 2010’s bedroom-recorded dream pop opus Learning, Mike Hadreas has been composing heartfelt odes to love, struggle, and emotional realness. Last year’s No Shape -- one of our best albums of the year -- brought that tenderness to the protest movement, presenting a vision of the political possibilities of honesty. Join the movement at Emo’s.
Cost: $28.50
taco libre
Torchys Tacos/Taco Libre | Flickr/nonojoe
May 2
Brazos Hall
The Mexic-Arte Museum is one of Austin’s most beloved institutions. Know what else is one of our most beloved institutions? Delicious Mexican food. Celebrate and support one while chowing down on the other, with small bites from 50 of our city’s most celebrated Mexican restaurants benefiting arts education and public programming.
Cost: $50-$75
May 5
Circuit of the Americas
JMBLYA is a three-day, three-city traveling music festival in its sixth year, which will showcase some of the most sought-after talent in hip-hop today, including headliners J. Cole, Migos, Cardi B and Kevin Gates. This year’s lineup will also include hot up-and-coming rappers, such as Playboi Carti, and standouts from the SoundCloud rap scene, like Trippie Redd and Ski Mask The Slump God.
Cost: $99-249
Saturday - Sunday
May 5-6
Sixth Street
Twice a year, Dirty Sixth gets (nearly) wholesome at the weekend-long Pecan Street Festival. There’s stuff for the grown-ups, of course, with over 50 local bands performing alongside food vendors, but there's also face painters, magicians, and even a petting zoo.
Cost: Free!
Dec 31
Fairmont Hotel
On May 10th, Austin’s top cocktail teams will compete for the honor of claiming the 2018 Official Drink of Austin; past winners have included Frank, Geraldine’s, and Garage. Not only will you be able to try all of the finalists’ cocktails made by the talented bar teams, but sponsors will also be serving plenty of bites, beer, spirits, and wine.
Cost: $70 for GA, $85 at the door
May 12
Republic Square
We’re of the opinion that attending all taco-related events is practically your civic duty in a town whose official food is breakfast tacos, and at Taco Libre -- which features booths from Austin’s most celebrated taco slingers, live music, and lucha libre all afternoon -- hometown pride has never tasted so good.
Cost: $16
May 13
Texas State Capitol
The only thing moms like more than classy music is a bargain, and with this totally free show from The Austin Symphonic Band performing renditions of popular tunes in front of the Capitol Building, she gets both. Pack a fancy picnic for some favorite child bonus points.
Cost: Free!
Saturday - Sunday
May 12-20
Locations around West Austin
The Eastside may get all the artsy credit these days, but with a growing artistic presence on the Westside, the folks at Big Medium have been expanding their reach. Wander through the beautiful neighborhood seeing local art, stopping for a beer or a snack at one of the many official pit stop restaurants and bars committed to contributing ten percent of their profits from the day to arts in Austin.
Cost: Free!
May 19
Mononymic New Zealand chanteuse Kimbra (who you might remember from that song back in 2011) soulfully mixes pop, jazz, and R&B for a sound all her own. She'll be supported by the three-man bicoastal experimental operatic noise group Son Lux, so the evening promises to be delightfully genre-bending.
Cost: $18-$20
Monday - Friday
May 21-25
Cine Las Americanas
Cine Las Americanas celebrates the best of contemporary Latin American film and video art, alongside contributions made by (or focusing on the stories of) Latinos from across the US and around the world. Overcome your resistance to subtitles and see what the world beyond Hollywood has to offer.
Cost: $13 per film (CLS members get $2 off)
Thursday - Sunday
May 24-27
Multiple locations
Created by James Beard Award-winner Aaron Franklin (of Franklin Barbecue); Guerilla Suit principal James Moody (also founder of Mohawk and Fun Fun Fun Fest); and Mike Thelin, co-founder of Feast Portland; Hot Luck Festival will bring together the best in food and live music. The fest will descend upon multiple venues featuring top culinary talent from around the country, including a James Beard award-winner and a Top Chef winner. The music portion also slays; this year DJ Questlove, Peter Hook & The Light are among the talent. Purchase event tickets a la carte, or get the “whole enchilada” for (significantly) more money.
Cost: $70-550
Jun 3
South Lamar
If you are guilty of sharing “Rosé All Day” memes, this event is for you. Eberly is bringing back their hit summer event, Rosé Soireé, on Sunday, June 3rd from 12pm to 6pm, just ahead of National Rosé Day on June 9th, and is expanding the event to cover the entire venue, offering tastings of 100+ rosé varieties. Tickets go on sale in May, and will also be available at the door day of the event.
Cost: Tickets are $30 in advance, $35 at the door, and can be reserved by email.