- April 20, 2016

10 Austin Festivals Where You’re Nearly Guaranteed To See Celebrities

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Everyone here is familiar with our diverse array of fun Austin festivals, so much so that we have two “festival seasons” per year (you know, those two times of the year we aren’t baking-spring and long fall). Film, music, comedy, food, and a little bit of everything else brings stars from the A List all the way down to whatever letter on the alphabet The Situation represents.

Here are some of the best chances you’ll have to catch celebs in their natural habitats: Austin festivals. And don’t forget, they need to eat, drink, and sleep while they’re in town, so even if you don’t make it to the fests, be sure to keep your eyes peeled out there on the streets! You never know…

SXSW — March

We don’t even have to begin to tell you how many celebrities are in town for the epic SXSW film, music, technology, sports, food, gaming, and education conferences. This year alone we had the biggest celebrity in politics, President Obama, in town, so there’s that. Other big names over past years have included Lady Gaga, Christian Slater, and Anthony Bourdain. Our friends over at ATX Gossip usually put out a pretty comprehensive list of confirmed celebs before the festival each year, for those of you who like to plan ahead.

Lupe Fiasco at SXSW

Lupe Fiasco at SXSW

Pete Cashmore at SXSW

Pete Cashmore at SXSW

Grumpy Cat at SXSW

Grumpy Cat at SXSW

Nick Cannon at SXSW

Nick Cannon at SXSW

Ron Perlman at SXSW

Ron Perlman at SXSW

Guillermo from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! at SXSW

Guillermo from the Jimmy Kimmel Live! at SXSW

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Moontower Comedy and Oddity Festival — April

If you’re a big fan of comedians, the Moontower Comedy and Oddity Fest will make you lose your mind with excitement with its “90ish performers” on the lineup. Any given year (though he’s not on the lineup this year) your chances of seeing Doug Benson walking around downtown streets high as hell are always good, though that seems to be the case no matter what is happening that weekend. This April keep an eye out for Maya Rudolph (I’ve seen her walking on deserted West Sixth on a Sunday with her family before, possibly trying to find baked goods at Walton’s Fancy and Staple) and Kevin Smith (fun fact: Smith was inspired by Richard Linklater setting Slackers in Austin to set Clerks in his hometown), among many others.

Judah Friedlander at Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest

Judah Friedlander at Moontower Comedy & Oddity Fest

Mark Maron at Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival

Mark Maron at Moontower Comedy & Oddity Festival

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Austin Food & Wine Festival — April

If you’re a big fan of culinary competitions and cooking shows, the Austin Food & Wine Fest is one of the best chances you have to rubbing elbows with celebrity chefs as they deliver speeches, dishes, and perform cooking demos. Some food events even see these celebrity chefs handing you food from their own hands like multiple James Beard Award winner Susan Feniger at the Rock Your Taco event a few years ago. Graham Elliot fans can occasionally find him hanging out with his good buddy, Nakia. A few years ago Elliot jumped on the mic with the Austin crooner at one of his shows during the festival weekend. Elliot is slated as part of this talent for this year’s event along with Andrew Zimmern, Antonia Lofaso, Aaron Sanchez, and more. I’d expect Tim Love to be spending some time in his new Austin restaurant, Lonesome Dove, and inviting a few of his chef friends along with him.  

Unfortunately, this year’s Food & Wine Festival has been nearly rained out. Only the indoor Cheers to 130 Years and Social Hour will still happen.

Andrew Zimmern at Austin Food & Wine Festival

Andrew Zimmern at Austin Food & Wine Festival

 

 

Brian Malarkey at Austin Food & Wine Fest

Brian Malarkey at Austin Food & Wine Fest

Susan Feniger at Austin Food & Wine Fest

Susan Feniger at Austin Food & Wine Fest

Tim Love at Austin Food & Wine Festival

Tim Love at Austin Food & Wine Festival

Graham Elliott, Robert Rankin, Naki at Austin Food & Wine Festival

Graham Elliott, Robert Rankin, Naki at Austin Food & Wine Festival

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ATX Television Fest — June

One of Austin’s newest festivals has already proven its ability to bring big celebrity names to town. Last year’s “Gilmore Girls” reunion made waves throughout the entire entertainment community, bringing back together stars like Lauren Graham, Milo Ventimiglia, and Austin’s Jared Padalecki, of course. This year’s “Ugly Betty,” “West Wing,” and “Rescue Me” reunions will all be pretty great, but it would be pretty hard to outdo that Star’s Hollow family get-together. ATX Television Fest has also taken up the habit of offering programming throughout the year, so be sure to follow what they’re doing.

Cast members of "Orange is the New Black" at ATX Television Festival

Cast members of “Orange is the New Black” at ATX Television Festival

X Games — June

Fans of extreme sports should make sure to get their sports celeb fix in this year, since it’s the last time that the X Games will be in Austin. Chances of running into the musical acts are slim, but you never know who you may run into while walking around. Yet another incidence of me needing to pay a little more attention to my surroundings, I also knocked into Tony Hawk on my first day of the X Games last year. Oops.

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Edgard Vovo Pereira at X Games. Photo by Addrenal from Wikimedia, Creative Commons licensed.

Fantastic Fest — September

The best celebrity moments from the quirky horror/sci fi/fantasy/action film festival, Fantastic Fest, usually involve Alamo Drafthouse owner/Fantastic Fest founder Tim League. League likes to take his celebrity and festival guests to do unusual things like shooting guns in the Hill Country and watching live versions of Rock ‘em Sock ‘em Robots (Guillermo del Torro seemed to really enjoy that). There’s also the traditional red carpet moments where you’ll find actors like Matthew Fox and directors like Tim Burton.

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Frankenweenie premiere at Fantastic Fest. Photo from Wikimedia, Creative Commons licensed.

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Wizard World Comic Con — September

Wizard World brings some of the best geek fodder to Austin in the fall every year with their weekend-long conference. We’ve seen nearly the entire cast of “Star Trek: The Next Generation,” cult hero Bruce Campbell, and Stan Lee, himself. One year, my first five steps into the Austin Convention Center landed me smack into the chest of Kevin Sorbo-there’s not much to say after ramming into Hercules himself, so it was certainly not one of my best celeb moments (but also, it kinda was). Don’t miss our upcoming list of 10 Older Male Actors We’d Love to Welcome to Austin in Lieu of Harrison Ford to find out more about where you might be able to catch Bruce Campbell when he’s here in September.

Stan Lee celebrating his birthday at Austin Comic Con

Stan Lee celebrating his birthday at Austin Comic Con

Bruce Campbell at Austin Comic Con

Bruce Campbell at Austin Comic Con

Bruce Campbell at Austin Comic Con

Bruce Campbell at Austin Comic Con

Scott Bakula and William Shatner at Austin Comic Con

Scott Bakula and William Shatner at Austin Comic Con

Giancarlo Esposito at Austin Comic Con

Giancarlo Esposito at Austin Comic Con

Ray Park (Darth Maul) at Austin Comic Con

Ray Park (Darth Maul) at Austin Comic Con

"The Situation" at Austin Comic Con

“The Situation” at Austin Comic Con

Michael Rooker at Austin Comic Con

Michael Rooker at Austin Comic Con

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Austin City Limits — September/October

If you can figure out where the VIP sections are at each Austin City Limits stage, do your best to keep an eye out there to catch plenty of celebrities taking in the shows. Last year Austinite Jared Padalecki and his BFF Jensen Ackles were spotted multiple times enjoying the festival. They were also spotted enjoying many shots this past weekend enjoying quite a few shots and time with fans on Dirty 6th. ACL was also the backdrop for filming for Terrence Malick’s unnamed Austin music film where fans saw Christian Bale running around filming (wondering whatever happened to that film? We’ve got an update coming soon).

Vintage Trouble at Austin City Limits

Vintage Trouble at Austin City Limits

Austin Film Festival — October

The Austin Film Festival is unique because its focus is on screenwriting, but that doesn’t mean that you won’t get to catch some of Hollywood’s starlets walking red carpets outside of the Paramount Theater. Recent years have seen James Franco, Julia Stiles, and Johnny Depp in front of festival crowds.

James Franco at Austin Film Fest

James Franco at Austin Film Fest

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Fun Fun Fun Fest — November

This festival combines music with comedy, alternative sports, and more, giving fans a chance to run into a variety of less-than-household names. They’re the types of celebs who typically garner niche fanbases who are rabid about them, and the festival probably wouldn’t have it any other way. FFFFest also played host to the Malick band of misfits in 2012, where Michael Fassbender stood out wearing all black and Rooney Mara and Val Kilmer took to the Blue Stage to film some scenes with The Black Lips. This is another festival you’re likely to catch a glassy-eyed Doug Benson hanging out at.

Rooney Mara and Val Kilmer at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Rooney Mara and Val Kilmer at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Michael Fassbender at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Michael Fassbender at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Doug Benson at Fun Fun Fun Fest

Doug Benson at Fun Fun Fun Fest