Festival favorites: Your guide to Austin-area events in 2018


New year, new absurdly wide variety of festivals and events in Central Texas. Whether you want hot sauce, reggae, bats or tatts, you can find it in and around Austin. Here’s a list of what’s on offer in 2018 — enjoy!

If you notice we’re missing a festival, email cgonzales@statesman.com, and we’ll add it to the list.

JANUARY

Austin Home & Garden Show, Jan. 12-14. Visit with home and garden exhibitors, plus hear from celebrity designers Kim Lewis and Andy and Ashley Williams at the Palmer Events Center.

Print Austin, Jan. 15-Feb. 15. The Austin arts community showcases works on paper through exhibits, artist talks, signings and demonstrations at various locations. An annual highlight is the print expo and bin sale, held at noon Feb. 10 at Canopy, 916 Springdale Road.

MLK Community March, Festival and Celebration, Jan. 15. The MLK march kicks off with a short program at the Martin Luther King Jr. statue on the University of Texas campus and continues all the way to Huston-Tillotson University, where a free festival offers music, food and family activities.

Frontera Fest, Jan. 16-Feb. 17. Included in the five-week tribute to offbeat theater is the Short Fringe, a nightly bill of four or five short plays at Hyde Park Theatre, ranging from monologues to comedy to cabaret singers.

Star of Texas Tattoo Art Revival, Jan. 26-28. This celebration of body art consists of artists, vendors, seminars, live music, a Tattoo of the Day contest and more at the Palmer Events Center.

Winter Tree Fest, Jan. 27. Learn about and climb trees at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center. The Winter Tree Fest includes yoga and crafts, tree sales and s’mores.

FEBRUARY

Carnaval Brasileiro, Feb. 10. Go all out at Austin’s version of the Brazilian Carnaval. Take in the flamboyant costumes, dance the night away to samba music and get your body painted at the Palmer Events Center.

OUTsider, Feb. 14-18. The art and burlesque festival will highlight a variety of theater, film, music and visual art with the theme “OUT of Time.”

Austin Marathon and Half Marathon, Feb. 18. More than 17,000 runners will take to Austin’s streets for the marathon, half-marathon and 5k. The course will pass by landmarks such as the University of Texas Tower, Lady Bird Lake and the Capitol.

Jugglefest XXV, Feb. 23-25. Learn some new tricks and watch dazzling performances at the 25th annual Jugglefest at the Texas School for the Deaf.

Austin Oyster Festival, Feb. 24. Enjoy oysters in all their iterations, as well as other seafood, live Cajun and bluegrass music, wine, craft beer and specialty cocktails, at the lawn at Seaholm Power.

MARCH

Explore UT, March 3. Texans of all ages are invited to learn about the importance of public research institutions and participate in hands-on demonstrations and experiments at the University of Texas.

Texas Independence Day Run and Parade, March 3. The 5K run up Congress Avenue starts at 8 a.m., followed by a parade.

ABC Zilker Kite Festival, March 4. Although last year’s Kite Festival was cursed by bad weather, the tradition will return this spring with hundreds of kites floating above beloved Zilker Park. The rain date is March 11.

South by Southwest, March 9-18. The annual Film, Interactive and Music conferences and festival return. This year’s highlighted speakers include actor and musician Common, journalist and author Katie Couric and the cast of NBC drama “This Is Us.”

Rodeo Austin, March 10-24. Attend one of America’s top 10 ProRodeos, see more than 100 musical artists and visit Austin’s largest carnival. The free kickoff Cowboy Breakfast is scheduled for March 2 at the Long Center.

Mexican American Experience, TBA. The free festival showcases music from Tejano to Latin rock.

Luck Reunion, TBA. See up-and-coming and well-known Americana and folk artists at Willie Nelson’s Luck ranch during South by Southwest.

St. Patrick’s Day Festival, March 17. Drink classic Irish imports instead of green beer and listen to live Celtic music at Austin’s St. Patrick’s Day celebration.

Pan Americana Festival, TBA. Celebrate diversity with Hispanic movies, music, literature, art and food at the Emma S Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center.

Zilker Garden Festival, TBA. Learn about native plants, visit the flower show, make crafts at the kids corner and shop for garden-themed arts and crafts at Zilker Botanical Garden.

Texas Relays, March 28-31. The University of Texas hosts one of the largest track meets in the country.

Fashion X Austin, March 29-April 7. View collections from local and international designers, meet “Project Runway” stars and shop at trunk shows during Texas’ biggest fashion week event.

Urban Music Festival, March 30-31. Austin’s Urban Music Festival returns to Auditorium Shores with two days of fun and cultural awareness. This year’s lineup includes En Vogue, Dave Hollister, Vivian Green and Freddie Jackson.

APRIL

Honk!TX, April 6-8. All ages can take part in this free three-day event that brings brass bands from around the country to locations throughout the city. Day one is on South Congress, day two is at Hyde Park and day three is in East Austin.

Lonestar Round Up, April 6-7. Traditional hot rods and custom cars from all over the country take over the grounds of the Travis County Expo Center for a car show, swap meet and live music.

Texas VegFest, April 7. Celebrate the plant-based lifestyle with food vendors, educational lectures, cooking demonstrations, community outreach and more at Fiesta Gardens. 2017’s vendors included Mr. Natural, Arlo’s and Sweet Ritual.

Live Fire, TBA. The Austin Food and Wine Alliance’s centerpiece fundraiser features almost two dozen Texas chefs cooking meat over open flames, accompanied by tastings of wine, beer and spirits.

Euphoria, TBA. View art installations, sample food from local vendors, attend workshops and enjoy a diverse music lineup at the annual camping festival at Carson Creek Ranch.

Statesman Capitol 10K Race and Health & Fitness Expo, April 7-8. Get your race bib and peruse fitness vendors the day before the race at Palmer Events Center. On April 8, begin your run on South Congress Avenue at the Congress Avenue Bridge and finish at the traffic circle on West Riverside Drive.

Mack, Jack & McConaughey, April 12-13. Actor Matthew McConaughey, country artist Jack Ingram and former UT coach Mack Brown present their annual charity event that benefits organizations dedicated to children’s health, including Dell Children’s Medical Center, HeartGift and the Rise School of Austin.

Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz: A Tribute to Mexican Women, April 13-14. This festival at the Emma S. Barrientos Mexican American Cultural Center honors scholar Sor Juana Inés de la Cruz and the empowerment of women with live music, poetry and storytelling.

Art City Austin, April 13-15. Art Alliance Austin’s three-day festival returns to the Palmer Events Center with works from 25 contemporary art galleries and an art festival featuring 125 self-represented artists from across the U.S.

Spring Plant Sale, April 14. Learn about and purchase hundreds of species of native Texan plants, including wildflowers, perennials, grasses, trees and pollinator-friendly plants. Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center members have access to the early sale, April 13, and get free admission.

Fusebox Festival, April 18-22. Fusebox brings a variety of innovative contemporary and performance artists who work in different media to more than 20 venues around the city.

Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest, April 18-21. Comedians including Janeane Garofalo, Mike Birbiglia and Tiffany Haddish will perform during the seventh year of the Austin comedy fest, which offers 100 performers at various venues.

Old Settler’s Music Festival, April 19-22. Check out the festival’s new location near Lockhart this year and enjoy a weekend of arts and crafts vendors, kids’ activities and roots and Americana music. Artists include Calexico, the Travelin’ McCourys, Ray Wylie Hubbard and the War & Treaty.

Austin Reggae Festival, April 20-22. Reggae artists perform at Auditorium Shores during a three-day festival that benefits the Central Texas Food Bank. This year’s performers have not been announced; last year’s headliners were Tarrus Riley, Jesse Royal and Akae Beka.

Earth Day Austin, April 21. In-depth programming and engaging exhibitions empower participants to make sustainable choices and consider environmental issues at Huston-Tillotson University.

Umlauf Garden Party, April 26. Enjoy food from local eateries and bid on items from donors such as Lake Austin Spa, Maudie’s TexMex and Tito’s Handmade Vodka at the Umlauf’s annual fundraiser.

Hill Country Film Festival, April 26-29. Celebrate independent film in cozy Fredericksburg. The festival shows feature films, shorts and documentaries and offers awards such as Best Student Film, Best Texas Film and Audience Choice Award.

Levitation, April 26-29. After taking a year off, the psychedelic music festival is back for its 10th anniversary. Shows will be held throughout Red River District clubs. Performers include Survive, the Black Angels and A Giant Dog.

Texas Burlesque Festival, April 27-28. Founded in 2007, the Texas Burlesque Festival celebrates the renaissance of burlesque and vaudeville and enables networking among performers.

Austin Food & Wine Festival, April 27-29. The annual culinary festival comprises dozens of cooking demos, a beverage tasting pavilion, 40 food artisans and cookbook signings. 2017’s event featured Barley Swine owner Bryce Gilmore, Thai-Kun executive chef Thai Changthong, “Chopped” judge Amanda Freitag and more.

Sunset Valley ArtFest, April 28. Visit Sunset Valley for a day of arts and crafts, live music, food and family fun.

BP MS 150, April 28-29. The two-day bike ride, organized by the National MS Society, raises money to help people who are affected by multiple sclerosis. BP MS 150 is the largest event of its kind in North America, with 13,000 cyclists and 3,500 volunteers.

Eeyore’s Birthday, April 28. The “Winnie the Pooh” character’s birthday party benefits multiple nonprofit groups in Austin. The event is free, but vendors will be selling food and drinks and offering face painting, henna and temporary tattoos.

Buda Wiener Dog Races, TBA. The Buda Lions Club’s annual event has it all: a cook-off, arts and crafts booths, a pet parade and, oh yeah, a race for wiener dogs.

Austin Dragon Boat Festival, April 28-29. Teams of 20 race in boats adorned with dragon heads and tails on Lady Bird Lake at the 20th annual Austin Dragon Boat Festival.

MAY

National Wildflower Week, May 1-7. Celebrate the beauty and impact of wildflowers at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center during the peak of wildflower season in Texas.

Cine Las Americas International Film Festival, May 2-6. Cine Las Americas showcases contemporary films and videos from Latin America that highlight diverse themes, genres and styles.

Jmblya, May 5. The hip-hop party returns for its sixth year. The 2018 lineup hasn’t been announced; 2017 included Chance the Rapper, Migos and Lil Uzi Vert. Ticket prices increase as the festival nears.

Pecan Street Festival, Spring, May 5-6. Whether you want art, music or food, the Pecan Street Festival has something for everyone. Hundreds of local and national artisans set up on Sixth Street, offering anything from leather to wood to glass.

Cinco de Mayo, May 5-6. Nonprofit Fiestas Patrias of Austin celebrates Hispanic culture with food and music at Fiesta Gardens. Proceeds from the festival benefit scholarship and community programs.

Derby in the City, May 5. Wear your fanciest hat, drink mint juleps and watch the most exciting two minutes in sports while also enjoying live music at the American-Statesman parking lot.

Maker Faire Austin, May 5-6. Makers across all disciplines, including engineering, science, arts and crafts, gather at the Palmer Events Center to showcase their projects.

Index Fest, TBA. Formerly known as beer-centric festival Untapped, Index Fest brings high-quality beer, food, art and music to Austin, along with Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston and San Antonio.

O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championships, TBA. Test your skills at “the highest celebration of the lowest form of humor” and compete for the Punster of the Year Award.

West Austin Studio Tour, TBA. Take the West Austin version of the popular self-guided art tour. Over 200 artist studios participate, as well as galleries, temporary exhibitions and partner programs.

Austin Sketch Fest, May 21-27. ColdTowne Theater presents a collection of scripted comedy on Memorial Day weekend. Past performers include Superego, Paul F. Tompkins and Ennis and Kaye.

Hot Luck, May 24-27. Inspired by tailgates and family get-togethers, Hot Luck a chef-driven picnic that focuses on food, music and camaraderie. A portion of the festival’s proceeds go to SAFE Alliance.

Kerrville Folk Festival, May 24-June 10. Eighteen days and more than 100 performers make up the time-honored Hill Country tradition. Enjoy camping, live music and workshops, including Songwriter School and ukulele and harmonica workshops.

Lone Star Jam, May 26-27. The jam returns with two days, two stages and 20 country bands. Last year’s lineup included the Josh Abbott Band, Pat Green and Wade Bowen.

Life Time Tri CapTex, May 28. What better way to celebrate Memorial Day than with a triathlon starting in Lady Bird Lake and ending in a post-race party at Auditorium Shores? Entry fees start at $119.

Georgetown Festival of the Arts, TBA. Classical concerts, recitals, films and symposiums are presented at venues around Georgetown and Southwestern University.

Blues on the Green, TBA. KGSR’s iconic, summerlong free concert series at Zilker Park starts back up.

JUNE

ATX Television Festival, June 7-10. Delve into the state of television with panelists such as “House of Cards” creator Beau Willimon and “Thirtysomething” actor David Clennon.

The Republic of Texas Biker Rally, June 7-10. ZZ Top headlines the annual motorcycle rally at the Travis County Expo Center and surrounding areas.

Keep Austin Weird Fest and 5K, June 23. Compete for a free year of Amy’s Ice Creams in the Keep Austin Weird costume contest, run a 5K with a bunch of people dressed as hot dogs and bananas, and then spend the rest of the day at the festival in front of the Long Center.

Austin African American Book Festival, June 23. This free event at the Carver Museum and Cultural Center and the Carver Branch Library aims to promote empowerment through literature. Last year’s lineup included authors Angie Thomas and April Sinclair.

JULY

Willie Nelson’s Fourth of July Picnic, July 4. Willie Nelson and friends host the annual Independence Day party. Last year’s lineup included Sheryl Crow, Kacey Musgraves and Asleep at the Wheel.

Austin Chamber Music Festival, TBA. This multiweek lineup of concerts takes place in recital halls and live music clubs and includes new music ensembles, jazz groups, string quartets and trios.

Float Fest, July 21-22. Party on the river in San Marcos with music, local food and drink vendors, tubing and camping. The 2018 lineup hasn’t been announced, but 2017 included Zedd, Weezer, Cage the Elephant, MGMT, Passion Pit, Girl Talk, Snakehips and more.

Classic Game Fest, July 28-29. Take in 70,000 square feet of retro video games at the Palmer Events Center. Retro arcade games, tournaments, live video game music and costume contests are all part of this family-friendly event.

AUGUST

Austin Ice Cream Festival, TBA. Right in the middle of summer, the Austin Ice Cream Festival is a welcome break from the heat.

Bat Fest, Aug. 18. Watch from the Congress Avenue Bridge as 1.5 million bats emerge at dusk accompanied by live music, arts and crafts vendors, food vendors and a bat costume contest.

Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival, TBA. Grab some chips and try some of the best hot sauce in the state at the Austin Chronicle’s Hot Sauce Festival.

Austin Pride, TBA. The annual LGBTQ advocacy and fundraising event returns with entertainment, games, face painting, photo booths and vendor booths featuring nonprofits and products from businesses that support the LGBTQ community.

Out of Bounds Comedy Fest, Aug. 29-Sept. 4. The live comedy performance festival has grown to over 500 performers, 130 shows and 10 venues, with a mission to bring attention to the Austin comedy community.

Fall Austin Home & Garden Show, TBA. Get inspiration for fall home and garden projects.

SEPTEMBER

Kerrville Fall Music Festival, TBA. Take in music and Central Texas wine at the condensed version of the spring festival.

The Austin Gay and Lesbian International Film Festival, Sept. 6-9. This film festival educates and entertains patrons with programming and films that focus on issues faced by LGBTQ youths, gender identity and expression, adoption, marriage, religion and more.

Eastside Kings Festival, TBA. Gather in East Austin for an opening party, artist workshops and two evenings of blues, gospel and jazz acts.

Austin Music Video Festival, TBA. Austin’s music video festival offers virtual-reality videos, big-screen viewings and parties.

Mexican Independence Fiesta, TBA. Celebrate Mexico’s independence from Spain at Fiesta Gardens with food vendors and entertainment.

Fantastic Fest, TBA. Created to offer exposure to genres often ignored at traditional film festivals, Fantastic Fest specializes in horror, fantasy and sci-fi.

Pecan Street Festival, Fall, Sept. 29-30. The long-running free arts festival returns to Sixth Street for its fall edition.

Texas Arts & Crafts Fair, Sept. 29-30. Artist-exhibitors, food trucks, arts demonstrations and entertainment convene on the Hill Country Arts Foundation’s 13 acres in Ingram.

Texas Craft Brewers Festival, TBA. Texas brewers come together for an event that focuses exclusively on Texas-produced craft beer.

Soul Food Truck Festival, TBA. The food truck festival, which began in 2017, gives attendees a taste of Austin’s soul food truck gems, including barbecue, Cajun-seasoned seafood and traditional soul food.

Texas Tribune Festival, TBA. Attend panels and discussions, ask lawmakers questions and take advantage of networking events at the eighth annual Texas Tribune Festival.

OCTOBER

Fredericksburg Oktoberfest, Oct. 5-7. Head to Fredericksburg’s Marktplatz for German music, food, drinks, craft vendors and family fun.

Austin City Limits Music Festival, Oct. 5-7, Oct. 12-14. Music lovers flock to Zilker Park for two weekends. The 2018 lineup will be announced in the spring; last year’s included Jay-Z, the Red Hot Chili Peppers, Chance the Rapper, the Killers and Gorillaz.

Formula One, Oct. 19-21. Racing fans from around the world gather for the U.S. Grand Prix at Circuit of the Americas.

Livestrong Challenge Austin, Oct. 21. Cyclists, runners and walkers from around the country participate in 20-, 45-, 65- or 100-mile bike rides or the Challenge Honor 5K to reach a fundraising goal of $1 million for Livestrong Cancer Institutes of the Dell Medical School.

Austin Film Festival, Oct. 25-Nov. 1. The nonprofit Austin Film Festival shines a light on the writers of television, movies, plays and podcasts with screenings, parties and panels.

Texas Clay Festival, Oct. 27-28. More than 70 Texas potters and clay artists present their work in the Gruene Historic District of New Braunfels. Demonstrations, from hand-building to wheel-throwing to raku firing, will be held in four tents both days of the event.

Texas Book Festival, Oct. 27-28. The Texas Book Festival features hundreds of nationally and critically recognized authors at more than 20 venues. 2017’s highlights included Tom Hanks and Dan Rather.

Austin Polish Film Festival, TBA. See a variety of award-winning Polish films, both live action and animation, all presented with English subtitles.

Viva La Vida, TBA. Austin’s largest Dia de los Muertos celebration offers an education pavilion with hands-on artist demos, traditional foods, local art vendors and live music.

Texas Teen Book Festival, TBA. Meet your favorite young adult authors at the free one-day event at St. Edward’s University.

NOVEMBER

Wurstfest, Nov. 2-11. New Braunfels’ 10-day salute to sausage features food, music and dancing; carnival rides and games; German, Texan and domestic beer; special events; and the finest in Alpine and Bavarian style entertainment.

UtopiaFest, Nov. 2-4. Camp out in Utopia and enjoy a weekend of live music, group hikes, wilderness workshops and kids activities. Last year’s lineup included Capyac, Mobley and Wild Child. Pre-party on Nov. 1.

Travis Heights Art Trail, Nov. 3-4. Artists in the Travis Heights neighborhood open up their homes and studios to the public for free. The tradition includes a sale by the Travis Heights Elementary School Arts Program, including art by the students and activities for visitors.

Creek Show, TBA. Austin-based artists and designers transform Waller Creek with light installations for 10 days.

East Austin Studio Tour, TBA. Big Medium’s East Austin Studio Tour is a free, self-guided art event spanning two weekends. EAST provides opportunities for the public to meet local artists in their creative spaces.

Wizard World Austin Comic Con, TBA. Move over, San Diego. Artists, creators and cosplayers come for a weekend celebrating the best in pop culture.

ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, Nov. 22. Earn your turkey by running in the ThunderCloud Subs Turkey Trot, including a Kids K, 1-mile run and 5-mile run. The Thanksgiving event benefits Caritas of Austin.

Austin Celtic Festival, TBA. Learn about Celtic traditions through music, Irish step dancing, Scottish country dancing, Highland games, workshops and more.

Fantastic Arcade, TBA. The offshoot of Fantastic Fest focuses on indie video game development, tournaments and game demos at Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar and the Highball.

DECEMBER

Trail of Lights, TBA. The holidays aren’t complete without a visit to the Trail of Lights. Find everything from live performers to food trucks to holiday shopping as you stroll through the dazzling light displays in Zilker Park.

Other Worlds Austin, Dec. 6-9. Celebrate all things science fiction with a selection of short films, features and workshops.



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