Words by Kendall Talbot
Got tickets to Austin City Limits Music Festival? Check out this list of must-bring items to help you survive a weekend of good music, great friends, and heaps of Austin-styled fun in the Live Music Capital of the World! This year, the ACL Festival will be held on two weekends—October 5–7 and October 12–14—at Zilker Park, near downtown Austin. Along with the following items, don’t forget your wristband—it’s your ticket into the event.
Water Bottle / CamelBak Hydration Pack
The number one rule at ACL: hydrate or “die-drate.” Here in Austin, it can be pretty hot during those first two weekends in October, and the Festival is completely outdoors and open to the elements. Luckily, there are several hydration stations located around the park, where you can fill up on cool, refreshing water for free. Bring an empty water bottle into the park with you, and then visit them often and don’t let the heat get the best of you. You’ll often find misting stations with fans at these hydration stations, making them a must-visit throughout the weekend.
Aside from the Barton Springs Beer Hall and occasional sponsor lounge, the only place to pop a squat at this outdoor concert is on the ground. To keep grass, bugs, and various spillages off your bum, spread out a large picnic blanket, towel, or sheet to sit on when your tired dogs are barking. For those of you who like to keep a little more distance between you and the ground, consider a folding quad chair—just be mindful of the Festival’s “No Chair Zones”!
The weather isn’t always sunny at ACL, but when the sun is out it’s out to burn. Protect your skin by applying sunscreen before you get to the park, and then reapplying it as needed throughout the rest of the day. The Festival doesn’t permit aerosol containers of any kind, so make sure your sunscreen is either in lotion or stick form. If you run out or forget yours at home, you can always purchase more at an ACL Bodega.
No matter if you prefer cash, credit card, or digital, you’re going to want to have plenty of money with you at ACL. Eating regularly at ACL Eats can get expensive, especially since outside food and drink is prohibited, and choosing from all of the cool festival merchandise can really put a dent in your wallet. The perfect way to make sure you never run out of money is to sign up for ACL Cashless, which allows you to pay for drinks, food, merch, and more with the tap of your wrist. Just register with any major credit or debit card when you activate your wristband and enjoy a weekend free of paper and plastic. (Go to aclfestival.com/wristband for more information.)
Between taking (and posting) countless videos of your favorite performances and constantly texting your friends about where to meet up (you’re at which hydration station?!), your phone is most likely going to die at some point. Plain and simple. You could practice self-control and try to use your phone as little as possible during the day to save battery. Or you can live your life however you want and bring along a portable charger. It’s small, compact, and will definitely come in handy. While some phone charging stations may be set up, they are usually swamped and few and far between around the park. Or, this year, you can take advantage of the ACL locker rentals and mobile charging stations, available near the Barton Springs entrance to the Festival. (Visit the ACL website to reserve your locker in advance, aclfestival.com/information.)
Need something to carry your portable charger (among other things) in while walking around the Festival? Here’s where a fanny pack comes in handy. ACL restricts bag size to 14” x 11” x 5” (or 30 linear inches in total), and if you’re not sure whether or not your bag will make the cut, a fanny pack is a safe bet. Stow everything at the front of the body, making your must-haves inside easily accessible. They can also be a fun, colorful addition to your hip festival “look”—fannies aren’t just for grannies anymore!
Getting to and from the Festival is another key topic you’ll want to explore in advance. Check aclfestival.com/information for details about free downtown shuttle buses, ride sharing options, CapMetro bus service, bicycles, passenger drop-off/pick-up, and more.
Featured Photo Credit: Roger Ho