SXSW has just wrapped up, and I’m about to offend Texans and rock fans alike. I didn’t go this year, despite being a native Texan and a diehard rock fan. I did it to make a statement, so let me explain. The March 9-18 South by Southwest, or just SXSW to aficionados, festival, with a fantastic offering of music, film, and interactive events, is often billed as the biggest event of the year in Austin, and this year was no different than previous years, other than perhaps offering even more than before. But, friends, Austin is a city that’s great to visit at any time of the year, and if the only time you go is for SXSW, you’re missing some of the really best the city has to offer.
SXSW Is Not the Only Music Festival
If you think SXSW is Austin’s only music festival, think again. Texas’ capital city is known as the Live Music Capital of the World with nearly 200 venues offering live music year-round. It’s also home to country music legend Willie Nelson, and from time to time you can catch Willie in a live performance. Go to Austin in October, for instance, to catch the Austin City Limits (ACL) festival, which will run October 12 to 14 with more than 100 bands in Zilker Park for the weekend. The Austin Urban Music Festival will be staged March 30-31 and will feature such performers as Boyz II Men and CJ Hilton, and the Pachanga Latino Music Festival will celebrate its fifth anniversary May 11-12 at Fiesta Gardens.
The Austin Film Festival, an event that promotes indie film producers, screenwriters, and other film artists, takes place October 18-25, and this year will feature its first-ever poster competition.
Live music in all genres from country to hip-hop to Latin can be enjoyed in Austin throughout the year.
Austin – City of the Arts
Music and film are not the only art forms that can be experienced in Austin. The city has a thriving community of painters, sculptors, and dancers as well. On the shores of Lady Bird Lake, the Long Center for the Performing Arts is creative home to many of the city’s finest artists. The Blanton Museum, on the University of Texas campus, is the newest fine arts museum in Texas. In the center of the city, Mexic-Arte features Mexican and Latin-American art and culture. DiverseArts Culture Works, a non-profit multidisciplinary cultural arts organization, is dedicated to the development of the African American cultural legacy of Austin.
Other Things to See and Do
Austin prides itself on being a “weird” city with an amazing diversity. In a state that is famous for its unusual Southwestern cuisine, Austin takes pride in its number of authentic Tex-Mex restaurants, as well as a great selection of other cuisines. It is also the gateway to Texas Hill country, with easy access by road to San Antonio and other cities and towns of the region. Whether you want to go duck hunting or take a walking tour through the city’s historic neighborhoods, there’s something for everyone. Next year, I’ll do SXSW, but in the meantime, I’ll probably also be dropping in from time to time just to enjoy all the rest the city has to offer.
Where to Stay
There’s a lot to choose from for staying in Austin, from expensive golf resorts to budget motels that will fit any pocketbook or desire. I suggest:
Radisson Hotel & Suites
111 E. Cesar Chavez St.
Austin, TX 78701