The fourth largest city in Texas and the fourteenth largest in the United States, Austin consistently appears on lists of the best cities to move to and places to retire. Austin still celebrates its quirkiness with its “Keep Austin Weird” theme and supports vibrant arts, film, and music styles. Austin is preparing for a busy fall with an exciting lineup of festivals and events. Here are the details of nine of my favorite events and places to stay and eat.
Note: I was hosted by The Driskill Hotel and The Origin Hotel, but all opinions are my own.
1. The Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival
Returning October 7–9 and 14–16, 2022, The Annual Austin City Limits Music Festival brings two busy weekends of live music, ethnic food, and fun activities at Zilker Park. Experience a diverse lineup of acts at nine stages where more than 130 performances are celebrated over two full weekends of jammed-out music.
Check the schedule to see the likes of Asleep at the Wheel, The Chicks, Billy Strings, Pink, Death Cab For Cutie, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kacey Musgraves, Paramore, and over 100 more.
Pro Tip: For the best bites in town, get tacos, brews, vegan options, burgers, barbecue, sweets, and drinks at the ACL Eats Food Court at the festival. Upgrade your experience with luxury perks, VIP and Platinum tickets, and enjoy exceptional views and luxury getaways from the crowd.
2. The Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix
For a celebration of speed and sound October 21–23, 2022, the Formula 1 Aramco United States Grand Prix 3-day event brings action-packed world-class racing.
Set on 1,500 acres in the hill country just outside Austin, a 3.41-mile racetrack is home to the country’s only Formula 1 and MotoGP races. The 20-turn, counterclockwise circuit hosted ESPN’s X Games, the FIA World Endurance Championship, Pirelli World Challenge, and more.
See music stars on the Super Stage with post-race performances each night. Nestled within the track is Germania Insurance Amphitheater, the largest outdoor amphitheater in Central Texas with a 251-foot observation tower. A phenomenal venue for a concert, some of the biggest names in music have played there, including Willie Nelson, Jimmy Buffet, KISS, Kenny Chesney, Kelly Clarkson, and dozens more. This year see five-time GRAMMY award-winning punk rock band Green Day and four-time GRAMMY award-winning singer-songwriter Ed Sheeran.
The epic psychedelic music and art festival Levitation happens on Halloween Weekend, October 27–30, 2022. The 4-day weekend of music brings art to Austin’s diverse Red River Cultural District and east side art spaces, where you can see Osees, King Gizzard & The Lizard Wizard, The Black Angels, Cold Cave, and many more.
Some of the venues hosting music are Stubb’s, voted one of the top 50 music venues in the country and serving up some excellent barbecue; Mohawk, with multiple viewing decks; Empire Control Room, hosting two stages and a great patio; and Hotel Vegas, hosting Osees for all four nights of Levitation.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Line Hotel Austin, where downtown meets Lady Bird Lake, once home to a jazz club that broadcasted live radio in the 1960s. The hotel is part of art, history, design, and food, with comfortable rooms overlooking Lady Bird Lake or downtown.
4. Austin Food + Wine Festival
Get the insider scoop on Austin’s bustling food and wine scene at the Austin Food + Wine Festival from November 4 through 6, 2022, at Auditorium Shores at Town Lake Park. Join top chefs, sommeliers, and winemakers from across the nation and Austin’s acclaimed gourmet scene for an indulgent, 3-day epicurean adventure, including live music performances.
Savor signature bites from renowned chefs and gourmet restaurants from Central Texas and the country. Eat and greet with top chefs like Tim Love, Tiffany Derry, and Wade Guice, who serve samples of classic dishes that made them famous.
You will mix, mingle, sip, and savor through an impressive number of the country’s top wine, beer, spirits, and culinary exhibitors. Come hungry! The wine flows, and the food samples are generous.
Enjoy exceptional barbecue cooked over open flames and get first-hand advice from the pro pitmasters and chefs. You can kick off the weekend with a Bavarian-inspired Friday evening with beer and brats. Sample tacos and vote for your favorite as you watch top chefs compete to create the ultimate taco at the Rock Your Taco competition.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Origin Hotel Austin, the new five-story, 120-room property in northeast Austin in the up-and-coming Mueller community. You’ll find well-appointed rooms and suites, pet-friendly accommodations, with some rooms featuring bunk beds with the capacity to sleep up to six — a perfect festival stay. Eat at the Blue Lacy, an all-day eatery with nostalgic classic food favorites.
5. The Texas Book Festival
Evolving into one of the premier literary events in the country, The 27th Annual Texas Book Festival on November 5 and 6, 2022, hosts about 300 national and Texas authors annually in the State Capitol and along Congress Avenue. Experience book signings, cooking demonstrations, local foods, readings, panel discussions, live music, meet the authors, children’s activities, and more.
Some critically recognized authors include Angie Cruz, Omar Epps, and Janet Evanovich, to name a few. Meet Top Chef finalist Chris Scott and James Beard Award-recipient Vishwesh Bhatt. Meet young adult and children’s book authors, plus featured Texas authors.
Order featured books on the official BookPeople Texas Book Festival online bookstore, where a portion of each book sold is donated back to the festival.
Pro Tip: Stay at the historic Driskill Hotel just five blocks from the capitol, part of the Unbound Collection by Hyatt in downtown Austin and a top pick for nightlife, service, and comfort. Dine at the Driskill Bar, voted the “Best Bar in Texas” by Southern Living, where you can savor fall bourbon and rye whiskey drinks. Enjoy down-home Texas comfort foods at 1886 Cafe & Bakery.
6. Austin Celtic Festival
The Austin Celtic Festival blends Irish, Scottish, and Breton culture with music, dance, sports, food, and more at Pioneer Farms in North Austin on November 5–6, 2022. This year, a full schedule of Celtic music performers — from folk melodies to Scottish pipes and drums — is featured.
Listen to the unique Donegal music from Altan and Tannahill Weavers, a Celtic blend of traditional melodies and modern rhythms. Also, hear the classic Irish music duo John Doyle, Mick McAuley, and Austin’s Silver Thistle Pipes and Drums. Other acts featured are The Prodigals, one of the best Irish Celtic rock bands, the local Inishfree Irish Dance group, and the Scottish Country Dance Alliance.
Line up for some of the region’s top Celtic food, drink, and craft vendors.
Pro Tip: The Host Hotel is the Doubletree by Hilton Northwest Arboretum, near Interstate 183 and Loop 1. For special rates, book your stay by October 14.
7. The Austin PowWow & American Indian Heritage Festival
On November 12, 2022, see hundreds of Native American dancers and singers from across the country at the 29th Annual Austin PowWow & American Indian Heritage Festival at Travis County Exposition Center in Austin. Shop at the large Native Market for jewelry and crafts and savor traditional foods at the Native Food Court.
The mission of the Great Promise for Native Americans is the preservation of the traditions, culture, and heritage of American Indians, to support the educational and health needs of families and youth, to honor the past, and ensure the future.
Red Voices bring Native American artists into classrooms and schools to present culturally authentic programs that are entertaining and informative and complement arts, music, and social studies.
Pro Tip: Stay at the Thompson Austin with dramatic Austin cityscape views and custom Mid-Century Modern and late-century luxury décor. Its restaurant, Wax Myrtle’s, offers a place to gather, relax, and socialize poolside with a contemporary menu featuring Mediterranean classics with Texas twists.
8. Field Of Light
Illuminating 16 acres in the Arboretum at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center at the University of Texas in Austin, Field of Light is a stunning display of 28,000 stemmed, solar-powered fiber-optic spheres created by British artist Bruce Munro. On display now through December 31, C3 Presents Field of Light is similar to the field of lights my friends visited in Paso Robles. “Austin is such a unique destination that embodies many of the core values of this installation. I hope the Field of Light installation will inspire visitors to contemplate a kinder and more connected world,” said Bruce Munro.
Pro Tip: Fairmont Austin is a landmark hotel in the heart of the vibrant downtown area, a 37-story luxury property with 1,048 guest rooms and suites. Fairmont is recognized by the 2021 Condé Nast Traveler Readers’ Choice Awards No. 1 Hotel in Texas, and the No. 21 Top Hotel in the World. Relax in the state-of-the-art top-rated Fairmont Spa Austin and the roof-top pool.
9. 58th Annual Austin Trail Of Lights
Zilker Metropolitan Park is home to the 58th Annual Austin Trail of Lights from December 8–23, 2022. Voted one of the 10 Best Public Display of Holiday Lights by USA Today and named one of the best places to see Christmas Lights by CNN, the event has grown to be a sparkling community-wide event.
The Austin Trail of Lights features more than two million lights illuminating the park, 90 lighted holiday trees, and more than 70 other displays and lighted tunnels. The trail attracts over 400,000 visitors from Central Texas and around the world.
Pro Tip: Headed by owner and executive chef Kevin Fink, Emmer & Rye is the first contemporary American restaurant in Austin to offer dim sum service as part of their meal — where guests can order items directly from circulating carts — along with a weekly rotating menu using local farm-to-table ingredients.