It’s that time of year again. While much of the world is grinding through a last bout with winter, Austin gets wired up for one of the nation’s most famous music, film and interactive festivals, South By Southwest.
The festival brings in more than 80,000 attendees and generates more than $300 million in the local economy, including a growing share for homeowners who rent their places out for the week. But, if SXSW isn’t your thing, the Austin area still have plenty to keep you entertained and engaged.
Bring the family out to see the fastest cars in production today at the Circuit of the Americas or check out hundreds of kites during the Zilker Park Kite Festival.
Now, pull up your calendar and schedule some fun.
March 4-6: World Class Racing
If you want to see what the best consumer production-level cars companies like Audi, Porsche and Ferrari can do on the race track, then mark your calendars. The Pirelli World Challenge is the cream of the crop for this style of racing, which pits top automakers against each other to see which production cars (slightly modified) can outperform the other. Add Bently, Cadillac, McLaren, Maserati and McLaren to the mix, and you’ve got a car lover’s perfect race.
When: Gates open at 7:30 a.m. on Friday. The racing lasts until Sunday afternoon.
Where: Circuit of the Americas, 9201 Circuit of the Americas Boulevard in Austin
March 5: A Very Texas Parade and 5K
Texas Independence Day is Wednesday, March 2, and there’s a celebration at the Capital. But perhaps the best option is to head to the parade on Saturday morning on South Congress.
When: 5K at 8:30 a.m. followed by the parade at 9:30 a.m.
Where: Downtown Austin (The Congress Bridge)
March 6: Go Fly a Kite
Austin’s generally moderate and breezy spring weather and its creative spirit come together at one of the city’s best parks each year for the Zilker Park Kite Festival. It’s one of the city’s best family events, as long as the weather is favorable. You’ll find plenty of competitions, but it’s also a great time to spend with family and friends, sampling the local food trucks, playing a few grounded games and looking to the sky to see some fantastic airborne art.
When: The fun starts at 10 a.m. The high-flying contests start at 1 p.m. It closes at 5 p.m.
Where: 2100 Barton Springs Road
March 11-20: SXSW Music, Film and Interactive Festival
Austin’s marquee event, South By Southwest, blasts off with the overlapping film and interactive festivals. This year’s lineup includes appearances by actor Jake Gyllenhaal, director J.J. Abrams and documentary guru Ken Burns. The SouthBites food showcase features world traveler and foodie Anthony Bourdain. And the extensive music lineup features some of the top up-and-coming bands in the world, along with rumored superstar appearances from Kanye, Iggy Pop and more.
When: Basically from sunrise to 2 a.m. each day
Where: Throughout Austin — mostly downtown
March 12-26: Rope it Up
Rodeo Austin is the city’s premier rodeo event with some of the world’s top riders competing daily alongside a huge batch of great family events involving dozens of animals, concerts and livestock shows. This year’s musical lineup features Willie Nelson, Tanya Tucker and The Mavericks, among others. And you’ll find endless munchies and a fair for the family to enjoy.
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
Sure, there’s plenty of green beer and corned beef around town. But if you’re really in the spirit, consider checking out the St. Patrick’s Day celebration from afternoon to evening out at Pioneer Farms. It features local and international Celtic musicians, including plenty of bagpipes.
When: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Where: Pioneer Farms, 10621 Pioneer Farms Drive in northeast Austin
March 20: Egg Hunting
Easter falls on March 27 this year. But you can get in the spirit early with the City of Cedar park’s Spring Egg-Stravaganza. Atop the egg hunt, you’ll have a chance to take photos with Peter Cottontail, get your face painted and have a few snacks.
When: 2 p.m.
Where: Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd. in Cedar Park