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Everything You Need to Know About the Austin City Limits Music Festival

What is the Austin City Limits Music Festival?

The Austin City Limits Music Festival began in in 2002, but its roots go much deeper than that. In fact, the festival itself was inspired by the popular PBS series Austin City Limits which started airing all the way back in 1976. The concept of the show was simple: Artists were given either a half hour or a full hour to perform on television. The performances were pre-taped but were largely unedited for broadcast. The first performer on Austin City Limits was Willie Nelson.

After Austin City Limits had been on the air for well over two decades, the producers proposed the idea of a weekend-long music festival to he held annually in Austin’s Zilker Park. Because of increasing demand for tickets, the promoters of the festival decided to expand the festival to two consecutive weekends with the same lineup appearing both weekends. This was a tactic used by the Coachella Music and Art Festival to deal with rising demand, and the Austin City Council agreed to the plan.

The first Austin City Limits Music Festival was a two-day event in 2002 and featured artists such as, Wilco, Ryan Adams, Emmylou Harris, and Los Lobos. While the festival has grown considerably in subsequent years, the first ACL fest had 42,000 attendees.

When is the 2022 Austin City Limits Music Festival?

After a year of being cancelled completely and one year of the festival being live streamed by Hulu, The Austin City Limits Music Festival is back in 2022 for two weekends of music and a lot more. This year the festival will be held October 7-9 and 14-16 in Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. If you are thinking of going to this year’s ACL fest, it’s a good idea to grab tickets as soon as possible because the first weekend is already sold out. The second weekend is expected to sell out as well.

As with many festivals these days, Austin City Limits has vastly increased their level of luxury depending on how much you’re willing to spend. Unlike the old days of Woodstock-style music festival, today’s festivals include a variety of accommodation and food options, and Austin City Limits is no exception. In addition to being known as “the live music capital of the world,” Austin is also known for having some of the best food offerings in the United States. These gastronomical choices are always on display at the festival, and sometimes it can be hard to make up your mind about what to eat.

While the first weekend of the festival is already sold out, there is a first weekend waiting list you can join, or you can opt for tickets to the second weekend. The General Admission option (the cheapest option) starts at $320 and includes basic amenities such as admission to the festival as well as food and drink options from over thirty-five local chefs. There are numerous free water stations for general admission guests, and children under eight years old are free as long as they are accompanied by a ticket holding adult.

Starting at $600 per weekend, you can upgrade to General Admission Plus which gives guests access to a shaded private lounge as well as air-conditioned restrooms and complimentary water and soda.

If you want to splurge a bit, VIP packages start at $1400 and include access to two VIP lounges near the largest stages, elevated viewing platforms, complimentary food, beer, and wine, and even spa treatments. Currently, these packages are waitlist only.

The highest tier for the ACL fest is the Platinum package which offers everything in the other packages with the addition of a beautiful platinum lounge, up-close viewing areas of the main stage, and private entrances to the festival including golf cart transportation to and from the platinum lounge. If you don’t mind parting with $5500, this is clearly the most luxurious way to experience the festival.

Hotel packages are also available directly from the Austin City Limits Music Festival website. So, if you’re still wondering when is the Austin City Limits Music Festival, it’s coming up soon!

How many people attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival?

So, how many people attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival every year? Like most of the larger festivals, ACL has continued to grow almost every year since it began in 2002. The first festival sold a total of 25,000 tickets, but somehow and estimated 43,000 people ended up attending the festival.

Based on the success of the first ACL fest, the festival was expanded to three days and included over one hundred bands, and attendance rose to over 50,000 people. Performers at the second ACL fest included REM, Kings of Leon, Al Green, and the Shins.

In 2004, the ACL fest ran into a bit of a problem. The festival grew again, this time to 75,000 attendees. The festival had grown so large that it was beginning to bother local neighborhood groups who objected to the large crowds. So, the promoters of the festival and the locals agreed to lower the capacity of the festival by 10,000 people.

This was how the festival functioned until 2013 when the festival was expanded to two weekends with the same headliners featured each weekend. That year, the festival was headlined by Depeche Mode, The Cure, and Atoms for Peace.

One of the reasons why tickets to the Austin City Limits Music Festival sell out so fast is because the organizers of the event have agreed to a modest cap on attendance in order to keep the local community happy. So, if you are planning on going to this year’s festival, expect there to be around 65,000 people in attendance for all of the days each weekend.

Is Camping Allowed at Austin City Limits Music Festival?

The short answer is: no. While camping is a major feature of many festivals like Coachella, ACL fest takes place in a city park in Austin, Texas. As a result, there isn’t enough room for both the festival and a campground.

So, what are your options for camping offsite? The best bet seems to be renting an RV or sleeper van and booking a spot at a local campground. You might not be staying right at the gates of the festival, but RV camping is certainly a more affordable option than booking a hotel room in downtown Austin during the festival. Airbnbs will also be in short supply during the festival, and prices will be greatly inflated. So, if you don’t mind doing a bit of driving to and from the festival each day, consider renting an RV for the weekend.

What happens at Austin City Limits Festival Weekend Two?

If you’re wondering what happens at Austin City Limits Festival weekend two, keep reading. Both weekends of the festival feature the same headlining bands, and we’ll get more into who you can expect to see this year. As far as the other performers are concerned, there is some difference between the lineups for both weekends.

Unlike Coachella where both weekends are nearly identical, Austin City Limits features a fairly different lineup on weekend one and weekend two. If you are wondering which weekend you would prefer to attend, the easiest thing to do is refer to the official Austin City Limits poster.

On the poster, you will notice that some artists have (W1) next to their name. This means that they will only be appearing on the first weekend. Similarly, if the artist has (W2) next to their name, they will only be performing on weekend two. If you see nothing after the artist’s name, it means they will be appearing both weekends.

How to have the best time at ACL this year!

If you’re wondering how to have the best time at the Austin City Limits Music Festival in 2022, were going to give you all of the tips you need. And while you may be a seasoned music festival goer, there are some things you need to take into account specifically for ACL fest in 2022. Times have changed, and in order to have the best possible experience, you need to know how to plan.

First, it’s a great idea to stay as close to the festival grounds as possible. Doing this means travelling the shortest distance to Zilker Park and avoiding having to rent a car. Keep in mind that Zilker park does not provide parking for the festival. There simply aren’t enough spaces to accommodate that many cars, and the city of Austin encourages people to use public transportation and ride sharing services in order to cut down on traffic.

Second, think about what you want to see before you go. ACL fest has a huge lineup that spans eight stages all across Zilker Park, and Zilker Park is big. Walking from stage to stage can take some time, and this can mean missing one of your favorite acts. In order to have the best time at ACL this year, spend some time with the schedule and make a preliminary plan for what you want to see, and how long it will take you to get from stage to stage. Arriving early is also a great idea because the lines at the entrances tend to get very long as the festival starts. Instead of waiting until noon, show up an hour early and enjoy the park before the music starts.

Third, don’t plan on having reliable mobile phone service. The park is large, and with so many people in attendance, mobile service can be unreliable. If you’re going with a group, make sure you have an agreed upon meet up place if you decide to split up. Relying on phones to get your group back together at the end of the day can lead to a lot of necessary stress and wasted time.

Fourth, make sure you take the weather into account. If you’re an Austin local, you already know this, but the weather in this part of Texas is anything but reliable. While you might be able to count on moderately hot, sunny days at the Coachella festival, the ACL fest can see everything from scorching heat to torrential downpours. In certain years, parts or whole days of the festival have been cancelled due to thunderstorms and flash floods, so preparing for the possibility of sudden rain is always a good idea.

Most likely, the weather in Austin in mid-October is hot. Festival goers from out of town often make the mistake of assuming that the weather at ACL will be crisp and Fall-like, and this can lead to an unpleasant surprise as the temperatures start to rise. At that point in the year, Austin is known for cool mornings and often very hot afternoons. This means it’s a good idea to have a light layer for the morning that you can strip off in the afternoon.

It’s also a good idea to make sure you are aware of where water is available throughout the park. Most vendors sell water, but ACL offers all guests free water at various water stations in the park. Before you go, take a look at the park map and figure out where the water stations are so you can be prepared as you travel from stage to stage.

Of course, during hot years, you will want to pack sunscreen with a high SPF rating. If you have gone the general admission route, there’s a good chance you will be spending the majority of your time in the direct sun. VIP packages offer shaded spots, but most of the GA area will not be shaded. A hat and sunglasses are also a good idea, but it’s best not to bring your $300 pair of Guccis as sunglasses are one of the top things that go missing at music festivals.

While you may not need it, a lightweight rain poncho is also a good idea for the ACL fest. Texas is known for sudden storms, and this is certainly true in Austin. If you’ve opted for general admission, there won’t necessarily be a lot of places to take cover from the rain.

In recent years, festival fashion has become a big deal at festivals like Coachella, but keep in mind that Coachella takes place in a very different climate that is usually warm and dry. For ACL fest, it’s a good idea to wear clothes that you don’t mind tossing if they happen to get covered in mud after a flash thunderstorm.

What NOT to bring to ACL Fest

So, now that we’ve discussed what to bring, we need to talk about what NOT to bring to ACL fest. Entering a music festival these days feels similar to going through airport security, and you will be screened as you enter the festival grounds. Only bring a small, one pocket backpack. Anything larger isn’t permitted. You should also bring a refillable water bottle, but it cannot be glass. No e-cigs or vaping devices are allowed either. Likewise, leave bulky electronics and professional photography and recording equipment at home. And it should go without saying but alcohol and glass containers of any kind are not allowed to be brought in. Alcohol can be purchased by festival goers twenty-one and over once you are inside the park.

Also, make sure not to bring too much camping gear. Tents, folding chairs, and tables are not permitted, but there are designated areas where you will find picnic tables and benches. And unfortunately, you can’t bring dogs or cats, unless they are certified service dogs. Chances are they won’t like the noise anyway.

Who is headlining this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival?

The lineup for this year’s festival is just as good as previous years, and the headliners this year are top notch. One of the best parts of the ACL fest is the diversity of acts that are represented over the course of the festival, and this is also true of the headlining acts.

Both weekends feature the same headliners, and this year the festival has: Red Hot Chili Peppers, P!nk, The Chicks, SZA, Kacey Musgraves, Flume, Paramore, and Lil’ Nas X. A little bit of rock, a little country, and a little hip hop.

While it’s often the headliners that attract the most fans, we think music festivals are also a great time to find music you’ve never heard before. With over 100 bands over the course of the weekend, you are sure to find amazing music you’ve never heard before. At Turntable, our goal is to help you discover and share your favorite music. After all, music is about building a community, and that what Turntable is all about.