The Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival convention has been an Austin staple for 10+ years now and shows no signs of stopping any time soon. Ink enthusiasts should certainly consider planning their Austin trip in January and visiting the historic Palmer Events Center for this popular annual Austin event. The Frontera Fest is another annual stalwart event in Austin, a five-week long fringe theatre festival running through January into February for 20+ years straight.
February in Austin finds fun-loving revelers enjoying Austin’s smaller-scale version of Brazil’s annual Carnaval celebration. A long-standing institution in Austin, Carnaval has been taking place since 1975, gradually growing to become one of the largest Carnaval celebrations in the world. The African American Community Heritage Festival is another popular February event in the city, up-and-running for over 10 years and drawing thousands of attendees annually.
The annual South by Southwest music festival in Austin which takes place each March may be the biggest and most famous event in the city. SXSW is likely the largest and most prestigious showcase of up-and-coming and established musical talent alike that the US has to offer. During SXSW, the city of Austin turns into one big music-centered party, and it is really something that every big-time music lover should experience at least once.
Since 1994, the month of April has brought good vibes to the city each year with the Austin Reggae Festival. Top names in the genre of the likes of Israel Vibration, Culture, and Luciano have performed in past years. Eeyore’s Birthday Party is another long-standing Austin party institution, taking place in April since 1963, known for its colorful, free-wheeling aesthetic and epic drum circle.
The Pecan St. Festival is a free bi-annual arts-and-crafts fair taking place in May and September each year, drawing well over 100,000 patrons on average. The Cinco de Mayo Austin Festival, and the Pachanga Latino Music Festival, both held at Fiesta Gardens annually are other popular May events in Austin worth checking out.
The Republic of Texas Biker Rally is no joke; having brought in more than 60,000 participants in June of 2012, it is the biggest motorcycle rally in the sprawling state of Texas. The Keep Austin Weird Festival and 5K is another popular June event worth attending, as are the series of Black Arts Movement Austin events held each year at various venues in June.
If you visit Austin during the 4th of July and want to catch some fireworks, The Austin Symphony July 4th Concert and Fireworks at Auditorium Shores is likely the place you’ll want to be for patriotic music performed by the Austin Symphony and a dazzling fireworks display. An Austin staple for over 30 years, the Austin Symphony July 4th event is the most popular of its kind in the city, drawing around 100,000 people each year. For kid-friendly daytime Independence Day fun, you might want to check out the long-standing NWACA (Northwest Austin Civic Association) Parade, or Westlake’s Annual Fourth of July Parade.
August in Austin means it’s time for the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, a staple in the city since 1991. The festival draws thousands of patrons each year and garners hundreds of entries from independent hot-sauce makers who think they can bring the heat it takes to compete. The Out of Bounds Comedy Festival, held in late August through early September at various venues is another excellent summer event in Austin.
September is is a time of celebration for the LGBT community of the city as the Austin Pride Festival hits Fiesta Gardens and Downtown Austin, featuring a parade, a 5k, and other festivities. You also won’t want to miss the September installment of the aforementioned bi-annual Old Pecan Street Festival.
October is one of the better months for arts-centered annual events in Austin, featuring both the Austin City Limits Music Festival (2012 headliners included Neil Young and Crazy Horse, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Weezer) which takes place in Zilker Park each year, as well as the acclaimed Austin Film Festival.
Austin is known as one of the top music towns in the country, and in addition to the epic Austin City Limits and SXSW action early in the year, it is also home to the annual Fun Fun Fun Fest in November. The Fun Fun Fun Fest is a music/comedy festival featuring top up-and-coming talent each year as well as national acts of the likes of Public Enemy, Slayer, Run DMC, and David Cross.
There are a variety of excellent Christmas events held each year in Austin, including the Armadillo Christmas Bazaar, a shopping, music, and arts fair which has beome an Austin staple for almost 40 years. You might also want to check out the annual Trail of Lights festivities, or Austin’s German-style Christmas market, Austin Weihnachtsmarkt, featuring traditional German music and Christmas crafts. If you happen to be in Austin with kids for New Year’s Eve, A.N.Y. (Austin’s New Year) celebration at Auditorium Shores is a yearly alcohol-free NYE event featuring eclectic multicultural entertainment which is perfect for the whole family.