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ACL 2015: What You Should Know If You Want to Enjoy, Or Avoid, the Fest

Mengwen Cao
A shot of ACL Fest from 2014's first weekend.

Austin City Limits returns today to Zilker Park for two three-day weekends, and as usual, with the hordes of soon-to-be flash-tatted music fans come some street closures, a heightened police presence, probably some unlicensed short-term rentals and considerable congestion in and around the park. So, here's some of the info you'll want if you're rushing to catch a mid-afternoon set or if you're just looking for a re-route on the way to your dry cleaners.

Road closures

Starting now, and lasting until Monday, and then again starting a week from now and lasting until the following Monday, motorists should expect significant delays in the Zilker Park/Barton Springs Road area, and in downtown in general, throughout the durations of the festival. Stratford Road will be closed on certain festival days. And, on all event days, closures will include:

  • Barton Springs Road from Sterzing Street to Rollingwood Drive
  • Stratford Drive from Barton Springs Road to Nature Center Trail.
  • Barton Springs Road/Lou Neff from Stratford Drive (in the right lane westbound)
  • Barton Springs Road from Lamar to Sterzing is open for local access only during festival weekends

Park use

Those wanting to visit Austin's crown jewel during the week between festival weekends should note that some areas will be closed through Oct. 23 and, obviously, the park will be full of people during festival weekends.

During those two weekends, all of Zilker Metropolitan Park and Zilker Botanical Gardens are closed to the public. Barton Springs Pool is open, and the Southgate Parking Lot will be open for pool-goers. There is no access to Barton Springs Road and Robert E. Lee Blvd., however.

The City of Austin suggests that those interested in visiting city parks during the festival visit the middle or east lawns of Vic Matthias Shores (formerly part of Auditorium Shores), including the off-leash dog area. Butler Park is also open.

Parking, riding and biking

Attendees should not attempt to park at Zilker — where there's no festival parking — or in surrounding neighborhoods. Free shuttles are included with festival passes, and visitors are also encouraged to bike to the festival if possible. Though there is plenty of parking downtown, it's likely to cost you. Still, if you're willing to pony up, there's plenty of surface and garage parking downtown. 

As per usual, CapMetro's offering free shuttles to Zilker at Republic Square Park. Fest-goers can also catch the 803 MetroRapid directly to Zilker, as well. The Night Owl and E-Bus will run until 3 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays during the fest, but not Sundays. 

If you're looking to bike to the fest but don't want to navigate the perennially overcrowded bike racks, Austin B-Cycle is also offering a valet station at Zilkerstarting at 10:30 a.m. each day of the fest. 

Of course, the city's offering plenty more information for tourists and locals alike here on its website. Those attending the festival should wear sunscreen, drink lots of water, clean up their trash, smoke outside the park on the street only and be very self-aware as pedestrians and cyclists.

Livestream and chill

If you're not attending ACL this year, you're in luck.

The festival partnered with Red Bull to expand its offering of livestreamed shows. Starting today, you can livestream the first weekend of the festivities. 

You can catch everyone from Asleep at the Wheel to Alabama Shakes. View the full lineup and start streaming at 2 p.m. on the stream's site.

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