Once again Austin’s beloved ACL Fest is upon us, two weekends full of music, food, and fun. But just because you’ve started a family and those carefree festival and concert days seem to be over doesn’t mean they really are. ACL Fest does an excellent job of making everyone feel welcome at the festival, especially families. Here are just a few ways to have a very family-friendly ACL Fest.
Kids Get in Free
No, no really. If you didn’t already know, your paid admission gets your child in for free, as long as they are under 10 years old. And while dragging your kids around with you at a festival might sound like a daunting task, one that no iPad battery could possibly live up to, don’t worry, there’s plenty for them to do while they’re there….
Welcome to Austin Kiddie Limits
Not only are kids welcomed at the Austin City Limits Festival, they have their own section of Zilker Park, complete with live music, craft activities, a roaming circus, a rock star photo booth, and tons more. Austin Kiddie Limits is open from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily, both weekends. You’ll want to be sure to take full advantage and wear them out as much as possible before those headliners come on.
Skip the Lines, Go Straight to AKL
So many details are often overlooked when it comes to making festivals inclusive for families, but ACL stays on top of them all. Families have their own entrance (to the right of the Barton Springs entrance) that drops them off right in the shade at the Austin Kiddie Limits stage. Want to hit a different stage first? There are stroller-friendly lanes at all of the entrances.
They Help Keep Your Kids Safe
Finally, the Tag-a-Kid tent is a must-visit to register your child and equip them with an RFID that helps find them, should they get lost. The booth also serves as a meetup spot if families get separated and need a place to easily find one another.
The Kids Have Got to Eat
There are tons of food options at the festival, both inside AKL and the ACL Eats section of the regular festival. Inside AKL guests can find fresh, healthy options from Central Market for lunch, snacks from GoodPop, Kind Bar, and sponsor Lifeway Kefir. At ACL Eats there are vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free options to keep everyone happy. The super fun treat stand Banarchy will also be there — they’re a great option for a somewhat healthy treat for rewards, bribes, or whatever you need.
And They’ve Got to Hydrate
Inside AKL parents can find Alex’s Lemonade Stand (that benefits cancer charities), Central Market will have healthy drinks, and Good Pops will be there with a great way to hydrate the kids without them realizing it. There are also free Camelback water stations throughout the park so your VSCO girls can fill up their Hydroflasks and continue to tsk tsk their way around the park.
Babies are Also Welcome
For the very little ones who mostly hang out in their stroller or will be worn on their parents all day, there’s also a respite just for them. In the Family Services Tent (run by AustinBorn) parents can find changing stations, crawling space for babies, and breastfeeding/pumping areas. There will also be activities for the littles so parents can have a small break.
Kids Can Get in Touch With Their Musical Side
One of the AKL’s most popular activities is the Drumzone where kids can make music, dance, sing, and just get all of their creative juices flowing (and maybe get some of their midday energy out). For those kids who are totally in it to see Lizzo at the fest (because that’s what mom listens to in the car), you’ll want to have them check out the Hip Hop House Party where kids can get a personalized song, as they learn to rap, scratch, beatbox, DJ and more. KLRU PBS Kids will also be bringing the music to the fest with their music wall where kids can make music with everyday items. And of course, they’ll want to check up this year’s awesome lineup with their parents!
And They Can Learn About Other Cultures
The Great Promise for American Indian Dancers will be on-site at AKL, sharing their culture and heritage with festival-goers through dance, song, stories, and more. Guests can watch their performances in full regalia and even join in during the audience participation portion!
And Learn How to Take Care of the Park
Important organizations that care for the outdoors in Austin will be at the ACL Cares area with plenty of info about their programs (and swag). This year’s organizations include Austin Parks Foundation, Keep Austin Beautiful, and Don’t Mess With Texas. The Rock and Recycle program is also a great way to keep older kids busy and engaged – they can help to collect recyclables to exchange for a special edition ACL tee. Those shirts are designed by a group of 12 artists commissioned by HOPE (Helping Other People Everywhere) and they will be on-site throughout the festival doing live painting demos.
Now that you know just how family-friendly ACL Fest can be, it’s time to pack up those backpacks (don’t forget ear protection for everyone!) and head out for a weekend full of music and oh-so-Austin experiences.