Lori Moffatt plays hooky—and tourist—for the day
Matt Joyce explores life on Austin’s aorta, where history meets quirky
Jill Lawless’ grade-schooler runs a tight ship. Here’s her kid’s dream day downtown.
It’s a challenge to write about the place you call home, especially when that city is as multifaceted as Austin, a bustling burg flavored by music, art, and the outdoors. In the end, our Austin story is a staff collaboration: Jill Lawless explores Austin’s kid-friendly enticements, Matt Joyce rediscovers Congress Avenue after returning to town from a nine-year hiatus, and Lori Moffatt embarks on the perfect grownup “staycation” day. We had to leave dozens of worthy experiences on the cutting-room floor, so see those here. Check the Austin Convention & Visitors Bureau website for details on hotels and tours, as well as maps and other information.
In Austin, artists and musicians are finalizing prepwork for this weekend's Art City Austin Festival (April 13-14), which transforms the streets surrounding City Hall and the 2nd Street entertainment district into an outdoor art fair. Among the reasons to go: Hundreds of artists will display their works throughout the festival grounds, more than 150 pieces of art enliven the galleries inside City Hall, local food trailers offer sustenance and libations, musicians perform non-stop, and perhaps best of all-the weather promises to be spectacular! Tickets cost $8; free admission for kids age 12 and younger. It's also free if you ride your bike!
Interactive kids' activities at Art City Austin
First produced in 1951 as the Texas Fine Arts Association's Spring Juried Art Fair, the event, renamed "Art City Austin,” moved downtown in 2008. It's organized by Art Alliance Austin, which works to advance the city "by integrating art, culture, and creativity into public life."
This three-acre, 1,000-foot-long swimming hole beats as the literal and metaphorical heart of Austin. Ten to 80 million gallons of water, depending on rainfall and aquifer conditions, gush every day from Parthenia Spring right under the diving board. Another spring flows into Barton Creek upstream from the pool, while a third adjacent to the pool and a fourth just downstream bubble into rock enclosures. These springs together equal Texas’ fourth-largest springs system.
Let the Race Begin!
As The Circuit of the Americas racetrack shapes up southeast of Austin and the momentum builds for November’s hotly anticipated Formula 1 Grand Prix, organizers recognize that—despite Formula 1 racing’s international popularity—most Texans remain unclear about the sport’s history and appeal.
Texas businessman and racing fan Ian Weightman joined up with The Circuit of the Americas to change that: On June 15-17 at the Austin Convention Center, a preview event called Formula Expo will offer the public the opportunity to meet drivers, ex-perience the new track through simulators, learn about the sport’s nearly century-long history, and become familiar with the technology that makes the sport possible.
“Formula 1 racing is not only an automotive event,” says Weightman, “but a technology competition as well.”
Formula Expo’s four “zones” include a Race Zone (interactive exhibits featuring cars, pit crews, and race simulators), a Technology Zone (featuring many innovations with real-world applications), a History Zone (with profiles of drivers, historic cars, and photo displays), and an Austin Zone (highlighting live music and local food and drink). Tickets to Formula Expo cost $15 in advance. See www.FormulaExpo.com, and start your engines!
Anytime I day-trip to the big city, I like to pick an area and explore every nook and cranny rather than spend my time in a car traversing the urban jungle. With that in mind, I set out to explore South Austin. Nowhere does the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan ring truer than in this section of Texas’ Capital City.
(Win a CD: See below)Like a whirlwind weekend with a beloved old friend, there are mixed feelings as we say goodbye to South by Southwest 2012. It all comes to a stop when our film- and music-fed souls â€“ so full of tremendous energy and excitement (and next-to-no sleep) â€“ simply canâ€™t take in any more.
Makeshift venues and lounges that seemingly popped up over night come down just as quickly. Those remaining visitors â€“ looking a little worse for the wear â€“ take in their last hoorah of Austin hospitality along South Congress for one of the breakfast hotspots or coffee bars amid a few straggling Sunday morning, non-SXSW performances and tented vendor booths.
Left are fresh memories of film premiers with celebrity-laden, red-carpet hoopla; innovative minds and ideas shared by the interactive community; and the crazy late nights of band after band after band.
Pair that with official party after party, often bringing in big-nameÂ celebs who want a piece of the action, too, by hosting their own festivities and musical showcases.
Gone are the fashion statements that offered a magniified reflection of the diversity in the SXSW schedule. You can spot, for example, the documentary or anime film devotees against the gadget gurus and entrepreneurs. Or fans of rock, metal and every other subgenre of music, Quite frankly, you could also distinguish the Austinite from the visitor.
At the end of the day, though, when SXSW crowds have all gone home, Austin retains its quintessential dose of diverse personalities, tourists, the movie scene and celebrities â€¦ and, of course, live music.
Each year, the Austin Convention and Visitors Bureau releases a CD that captures the essence of the Capital City musice scene. Weâ€™d like to give a copy to one of our readers.
WIN A CD
Tell us the name of your favorite Texas-based band or performer â€“ feel free to share a link to their website if you like â€“for a chance to win this yearâ€™s â€œAustin Music Volume 11â€ CD. Itâ€™s packed with 13 selected tracks, including 2010-2011â€™s Band of the Year, Quiet Company, Nakia, Carrie Rodriguez, Speak, Lex Land and more.
Note: Please note that, thanks to spammers, all blog comments are moderated, so you won't see your response immediately. Have no fear. We will moderate all comments before choosing a winner on Friday. Thank you!
University of Texas officials floated a proposal in late 2011 to move the UT System offices from five downtown-Austin buildings to a spectacular, waterfront site a few miles away, resurfacing the battle between two UT regents who have been dead for decades.
Across the globe, when talk of music festivals come up, two Texas events always make the list - spring's South by Southwest and fall's Austin City Limits Music Festival, both in Austin – the Live Music Capital of the World. Austin's Fun, Fun, Fun Fest, in November, is also starting to rise to similar ranks.