Tips for ACL Music Festival 2017: The Ultimate Guide

The Austin City Limits Music Festival, known to locals simply as ACL, has been a staple of the thriving Austin music scene since 2002. The two-weekend festival brings in music lovers from across the world to Zilker Park to enjoy a deep lineup of some of the world's greatest music acts.

The first weekend of ACL Music Fest takes place on Friday, October 6th at 11:00 a.m. to Sunday, October 8nd at 10 p.m., with the second weekend taking place from Friday, October 13th at 11 a.m. to Sunday, October 15th at 10 p.m. Each weekend's schedule is nearly identical, plus or minus a few acts, so choose wisely!

This year's lineup includes over 20 local bands hailing from Austin, including Asleep at the Wheel, The Wild Now, and Charlotte Cardin as well as international household names like Jay-Z, Red Hot Chili Peppers, and Chance The Rapper.

Music festivals are always a fun time, but they're even more fun if you're prepared! Here are some great tips to get the most out of ACL Music Fest 2017.

What to Bring to ACL Music Fest

When packing for ACL, remember that whatever you're bring, you're likely going to be carrying it around all day, although there are lockers for rent available on site. Try to pack as light as possible without forgetting any of the essentials. Here's a suggested packing list for the festival.

What to Bring

  • Water. You're allowed up two sealed bottles, and one non-glass empty bottle
  • Blankets. Blankets make for a lighter alternative to a folded chair.
  • Towels. Doubles as both a blanket and a way to dry off if it rains.
  • Sunscreen. It may be October, but don't forget that you're in Texas!
  • Portable phone charger. You don't want to be stranded if your phone dies.
  • Earplugs. Most people actually find concert music to be more enjoyable through earplugs, and they also protect your ears, especially if you plan to get close!
  • Pack of tissues. It's not uncommon for the bathroom stalls to run out of toilet paper, so plan accordingly.

What Not to Bring

  • Outside food and beverages. If you require outside for health reasons, be sure to bring a doctor's note!
  • Professional cameras, drones, and recording equipment are banned.

What to Wear at ACL Music Festival 2017

Friends at ACL Music FestivalIt's going to be hot! This means you should wear light, cotton clothing that offers some protection from the sun. It may also be wet! Check the forecast ahead of time, and make sure you bring rain gear if necessary. You should also wear clothes that you're prepared to get dirty.

Most importantly, wear proper footwear. Flip-flops and sandals will get stuck in the mud the second it starts raining, and they also won't offer any protection when people step on your feet. It's highly recommended that you wear close-toed shoes!

How to Get to ACL Music Festival 2017

While there's no parking at ACL Music Fest, there are plenty of transportation options available to you:

  • Take a free shuttle from Republic Square that takes you straight to and from the festival grounds. The last ride is at 11 p.m.
  • There's a dedicated ride share pick-up and drop-off zone across the MoPac Footbridge
  • CapMetro buses increase their service during the festival
  • Bike or walk to the park. There's plenty of parking available for bikes.

Plan Ahead

Print a festival map and lineup schedule, or pick one up as soon as you get to the festival. It may seem old school, but it's common for phones not to receive any service on the festival grounds, so it's best to be prepared. Here's a link to the festival map.

For the same reason, it's best to set a meeting place with friends in advance. Set pre-determined meeting places and times in case your phones die or you're unable to get reception.

To avoid worrying about ATM lines, you can sign up for ACL Cashless in advance. Simply register in advance, and you'll be able to make automatic credit card payments straight from your wristband. Even if you sign up for the cashless option, bring a backup payment method in case your wristband is lost or stolen.

Other Tips for Enjoying ACL Music Festival 2017 to the Fullest

Cool off! First and foremost, stay hydrated. There are water refill stations located across the festival grounds. You can also take a dip at Barton Springs Pool before or during the festival, which is open during normal pool hours (5 a.m. to 10 p.m.). Your wristband allows exit and re-entry up to 3 times per day, so it's a great way to stay cool.

Eat the food! The ACL Eats Food Court goes above and beyond your typical food truck fare, so don't miss out on the great selection. You may want to eat in advance though, as you may have to wait in long lines once you are in the event center.

Don't fret about prices. Festivals are expensive, but it's an unavoidable part of the experience. Set some money aside for food and drink, and don't stress about higher-than-normal food costs while you're there. Relax and have a great time.

Go for the early artists! Of course you don't want to miss some of your favorite headliners, but the true joy of any music festival is the early, mostly unknown musical acts. Every band starts at the bottom, so you may discover some hidden gems by showing up early.

Bring your kids! Kids under 10 receive free admission (up to two kids per adult). The Tag-a-Kid service provides a free RFID wristband for your child, so that you can track them in the event they get lost. There's an Austin Kiddie Limits setup next to the festival grounds, which has a circus troupe, art murals, dance parties, an instrument petting zoo, and of course, great musical acts for kids! 

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