So, you’ve gotten or are getting your ACL one-day or three-day wristband. You’ve got the weekend planned and your crew is prepping for a fantastic time in Zilker Park. Fingers crossed, the mercury on the thermometer is falling to potentially give Austin some cooler temps for early October. Now, like for all the best road trips – complete with playlists and snacks – you’ve got to pack right.
Here’s our guide to surviving Austin City Limits Music Festival, whether you’re going for one day or for multiple days.
Only bags that measure 10 inches by 10 inches by 10 inches will be allowed into Zilker. So, if you don’t have a ruler or a tape measure, think of that drawstring backpack they gave away at last week’s tailgate. That will work. As usual, all bags will be searched, so don’t try to bring in the camping backpack with the built-in framing and think it’ll sneak by without security looking at the size of the bag.
Sealed, non-aerosol sunscreen lotion:
Even when it’s overcast, Zilker Park leaves few places to hide from the unrelenting Texas sun. It might not be hot, but so long as the rain keeps at bay, it’s sure to be bright, and that means you’re putting your health in danger if you avoid this simple step. Plan ahead by buying one to three small, sealed bottles of sunscreen lotion. The travel size aisle at the local HEB should have a few, and they won’t be too costly. It’s a $2 to $3 investment to protect you from the high cost of sun exposure. Forego the aerosol, as it’s not allowed on the Zilker Park grounds, and you should be good to go all day long. Sunscreen is also available for purchase inside the festival, in the event that you want to pack and travel light.
You can bring water in two forms – either by bringing two sealed water bottles or by bringing a maximum 36oz empty water bottle or water bladder for a Camelbak. Yeti ramblers are also encouraged, but still must abide by the size regulation.
Don’t bring the photography class camera and zoom lens to the party. Point-and-shoot cameras with removable lenses are not allowed, while all-in-ones and GoPros without attachments are welcome.
Blankets, Sheets, Towels and Chairs that Collapse are also welcome.
No matter what, there will be something that surprises you over a three-day festival. Don’t get shook by a sudden change of plans and be prepared for anything with just a little forethought.
Check the weather every day:
Yes, your outfit choice is as critical as almost anything else, but rather than deciding between chucks and flip-flops, one should also consider what the weather is going to do from day to day. As we Texans know, the weather can shift on a dime and what was sweltering by morning can be downright frigid by dusk. Bring a hoody or a pullover (or the means to purchase one – we heavily favor the Aviator Nation Raglan hoodie), jus in case. And before you finalize the day’s prep, check to see if rain is anywhere in the forecast. You don’t want to be caught without wellies, should the rains come and threaten weekend one or two, as has happened before – and wells and rain boots sold out by midnight Friday, when it did.
You’re going to have your cell phone with you. You’re going to take pictures, record audio and, most of all, text people a thousand times to figure out when to meet, eat and leave. In a park full of people trying to do the same, you’re going to be low on signal and high on battery consumption. Bring a charger cable and an extra battery, to make sure you don’t lose your momentum – on grounds or on social media. Charging stations are made available throughout the festival, but they are always in highest demand. So, bring your own. If you get a larger capacity charger, complete with multiple USB ports, you can make a lot of friends during the bigger sets, and isn’t that what festival life is all about?
Activate Your Wrist:
Yes, you should bring some cash with you, in case of emergency. You might want to bring a credit/debit card, but that isn’t a necessity. You can pre-register your credit/debit card, tying it to your wristband, once you’ve received and activated it. Scan your wrist at vendor cashier machines, enter a PIN for security, and you’ve just unlocked the easiest and safest way to survive ACL Festival without a wallet. It is convenient and easy and allows you to be hands free whenever you want to be.
Download the Austin City Limits Music Festival, BCycle and RideAustin apps. You’ll not only be kept up to date with any schedule changes, but you’ll be able to schedule a way home or rent a bike for a short ride to your car or your hotel, all from your phone. Special appearances, contests and music updates will be sent to your phone using ACL Fest’s app, which puts you “in the know” among others at the festival. But to get home, you absolutely must consider BCycle and parking somewhere near one of their many hubs, and biking to and from Zilker. You’ll avoid long lines for buses, be able to park right near the entrance (at Uncle Billy’s), and get where you’re going much faster than you would expect (leaving time to get to the Late Night Shows). And while there are many ridesharing apps, one is sponsored by ACL and offers the Hail-A-Honda option, by which you can electronically flag down a free ride to the park in a Honda. Additionally, you can use the code: ACLFEST17 in the app to get $5 in credit to use during the ACL weekends, to get wherever you want to go.