Destination Austin (and Willie!) this 4th of July

by Britni Rachal on June 24, 2019 in Entertainment, Music, Travel, Austin,

The Lone Star State’s favorite red headed stranger is at it again.

Texas’ most beloved son, Willie Nelson, is holding his fourth annual 4th of July Picnic at Circuit of the Americas, making Austin a great choice if you’re looking for a full-on Texas experience this holiday weekend! And, if you’re from out of town, you won’t be alone. Many of the expected 7,000 to 8,000 attendees will also be visitors, helping make Austin a top choice in Texas for Independence Day tourism.

“If you want to experience something truly Texas there’s not much more Texas than hanging out with Texas music legend Willie Nelson,” said Glynn Wedgewood, General Manager of Austin360 Amphitheater, the always popular live music venue at COTA.

At Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic, music goes from 11:30am to midnight on two stages at COTA’s Austin360 Amphitheater. Photo Ted Parker Jr.

Wedgewood says the Willie Nelson picnic is also a good draw for people coming from out of state who would like a quick snapshot of Texas for their summertime holiday. With a full-service RV park that holds close to 4,000 and sits on the fastest straight at COTA, during your stay you’ll be just steps away from the asphalt that’s played host to some of today’s most daredevil racing speedsters.

For the July 4th holiday, COTA makes it easy for people to visit. Typically, RVs will start rolling in the day before the event, with people setting up to grill and relax through the holiday weekend. And, if you’re looking for tips on what to do in downtown Austin over the weekend, check out our 2018 Austin Insider’s guide.

For the July 4th holiday, Circuit of the Americas makes it easy for people to visit, with a full-service RV park that holds close to 4,000. Courtesy photo

For locals in Austin, the event also brings out the best of the patriotic holiday. “It’s a really immersive experience. Lots of red, white and blue. You’ll see people kicking back with a hot dog and a beer while enjoying really good music,” said Wedgewood.

One thing that makes the event so unique and exciting is that Willie handpicks the artists who perform. I’m told that he looks for music he specifically likes, with the lineup only including artists who he respects and believes in. This will be my first year to attend, and I can’t wait!

On the big day, a slew of unique music will play from 11:30 am until midnight on two stages. The first opens early, with a second opening around 3 pm. This year’s eclectic lineup includes musical offerings from Luke Combs, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Alison Krauss, Jamey Johnson, Steve Earle & The Dukes, Hayes Carll, Colter Wall, Ray Wylie Hubbard, Gene Watson, Billy Joe Shaver, Johnny Bush, Folk Uke, Raelyn Nelson Band and the Casey Kristofferson Band… plus, of course, Willie Nelson & Family. Be sure to pace yourself!

At Willie Nelsons 4th of July Picnic, the fireworks blast into the sky at COTA shortly after dark. Photo Ted Parker Jr.

And then there are the fireworks. They blast through the sky shortly after dark, and Willie usually comes on stage soon after.

“Celebrating the birth of United States through this event is really fun, and the event has a lot of history,” said Wedgewood. “It’s been running since the ‘70s in different locations.”

You may remember in 2015 when Willie Nelson’s 4th of July picnic officially returned to Austin, after being held in other Texas cities. Since then, COTA works each year to improve over the previous year’s event. Two large circus-style tents will be added this year to help people keep cool in a shaded area. One of the tents will be for VIPs; the other for general admission.

Food is also a top priority for the event. Expect to see at least a dozen local food trucks (after all, this is Austin!), in addition to COTA’s in-house concessions.

Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic tickets can be purchased online. Prices start at $45.


Cover photo Ted Parker Jr.