First-time festival-goer?: Rookie mistakes to avoid at Austin City Limits


John Walker / Hilltop Views

ACL draws crowds of people from near and far every year. This year’s ACL is taking place from Oct. 4-6 and Oct. 11-13.

The leaves are falling, the air is humid as can be, and there’s an unmistakable buzz in the air over at Zilker Park. That’s right, Austin City Limits is right around the corner. With weekend one fast approaching, it’s time to stop making Spotify playlists and listen up. 

ACL can be a memorable experience if done right. It can also be unforgettable if you get it wrong. Here are five mistakes that I made last year to help prevent you from making the same ones. 

Not wearing sunscreen

While ACL takes place in early to mid October, this is still Texas we’re talking about. Temperatures are usually in the high 80’s to mid 70’s, with possibilities of either rain or pure sunshine. Make sure to liberally apply sunscreen if you’re going to be wearing anything mildly revealing. By day three last year, I had acquired a nice red tint to my back and shoulders, just in time for the temperature to drop into the 40’s the following Monday.

Not eating enough beforehand

It can be very tempting to go wild at all of the food choices available at the festival. However, it can quickly get out of hand, especially if you plan to go for the full weekend. Most of the main acts don’t start playing until the late afternoon, so my suggestion is to try and eat breakfast and lunch while you’re at home before heading to the festival. That way you will mostly likely only need to eat dinner and maybe a small snack at the festival. Yes, the frozen, chocolate covered bananas are very good, but at what cost to your wallet?

Not budgeting yourself 

This goes along with the food tip, but also applies to the wonderful and seductive merch tent. Stickers, t-shirts, sweatshirts galore! If you don’t create some kind of spending limit for yourself, you’ll most likely end up with an overpriced t-shirt and several stickers like yours truly. 

Bringing a small water bottle

My poor self sadly assumed that bringing a standard, 12 oz. plastic water bottle would be enough to get through each day of the festival. Not only was I constantly dehydrated, but I had to stand in long lines at the water fill-up station about every hour or so. Since it will most likely be hot and you will be sweating from dancing at all the sets, it is essential to always have water on hand. Do yourself a favor and either bring a CamelBak or a large, reusable water bottle.

Choosing to Lyft at the same time as everyone else

This is probably the biggest mistake I made last year. Instead of choosing to leave slightly early and being able to get an affordable Lyft ride, I decided that I just had to see Travis Scott perform “Sicko Mode” and ended up walking two miles to the nearest Whataburger in order to find an available driver. Either leave 30 minutes before the last headliner ends, or try to wait a while on the festival grounds to avoid the sea of chaos that comes with the festival closing.