Just because Austin City Limits isn’t opening tomorrow doesn’t mean you should be sitting around in anticipation. Buying your ticket isn’t the only thing you should do before the festival if you expect to have the best experience possible.

With that in mind, here are the three most important things you should do to prepare for ACL, starting right now.

1.) Listen to all the bands and fill out a schedule

"Coldplay" performing at ACL 2011. Photo: Flickr user Robert Scoble, creative commons licensed.

“Coldplay” performing at ACL 2011. Photo: Flickr user Robert Scoble, creative commons licensed.

Outkast, Jenny Lewis, Beck, Eminem and so many other great artists will be in town, and many of the big shows will be going on at the same time. While you could theoretically just show up, walk around, and watch whichever bands happen to cross your path, you shouldn’t.

Now is the time to be listening to all the bands playing ACL this year and deciding which ones you’re going to see. So hit play on the Spotify list below, and then print out the ACL 2016 Weekend 1 schedule (or Weekend 2’s schedule, if that’s how you roll). Keep that document close by as you jam out and use a big, red marker on it whenever you hear a band that gets your head nodding.

Choosing may be difficult due to the hugely stacked lineup of amazing talent, but not making plans ahead of time could lead to missing a band you later find out you love. If you’re spending the money to do ACL right, make sure you don’t have any regrets!

 

2.) Figure out the little details too

The crowd at ACL 2012. Photo: Flickr user Nan Palmero, creative commons licensed.

The crowd at ACL 2012. Photo: Flickr user Nan Palmero, creative commons licensed.

ACL is not Woodstock and this is not 1968. So, where are you staying? How are you getting to Austin? If you live here, where are you going to park your car when you go to the festival each day? These details can’t wait until the week of the festival. Settle them now. Thankfully, the ACL folks have a very helpful housing guide, a colorful map, and an information depot with answers to almost all your questions.

Out-of-town visitors, be warned: Parking will be a nightmare, so really take this one to heart. (We don’t need to tell folks who live here — this festival gets bigger every year, so for Austin people, we know.) You may also want to consider checking out Austin’s bike sharing program, which makes getting around downtown and out to Zilker Park a heck of a lot easier than driving. And if you use the bikes in combination with Austin’s metro rail, which goes from the far north side all the way downtown, you can even stay further away from all the noise and traffic and not add to it by leaving your car at the hotel.

Oh, and we don’t have Uber or Lyft in this city. So if you’re doing the ridesharing thing while you are visiting, sign up for Fasten and RideAustin instead. They’re pretty great.

3.) Line up some Austin-style downtime

torchysdemocrat

If you’re visiting Austin for ACL, you should be prepared to take a break from all the standing and walking and extremely loud music. So having a few local hotspots in mind for when you’re taking an ACL break is also a key part of enjoying your festival experience.

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No matter which activity you pick, you’re sure to have a great time. There are so many excellent things about Austin that you should try to see while you’re here, you may want to consider extending your stay beyond the festival.

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