The Austin City Limits Festival, the live-music extravaganza that takes over Zilker Park for two weekends every fall, now appears to be the city’s most-attended event, bringing in more than 450,000 people every year—outpacing even the SXSW spring events.
It’s unclear if latter includes the hordes of SXSW attendees lacking official credentials, who contribute significantly to the downtown crowds during that festival, but the essential point remains: A whole bunch of people will be in Zilker Park for the upcoming second weekend of 2019’s fest.
While it’s unlikely that the traffic nightmares around the festival and several surrounding areas will be completely abated anytime soon, expanded transit options and festival organizers have combined to make getting there and back less of a headache—and, hopefully, lessened the irritation involved for non-attendees/average citizens to avoid the whole mess while going about their business. The following information should be helpful for both groups.
Street closure and trail maps
Street closures around the festival have a kind of hierarchy, depending on the kind of vehicle. The map below shows different areas for taxi, shuttle bus, dockless vehicle, B-cycle, and pedicab access, stands, and parking, as well as pick-up/dropoff zones for private vehicles. There are also maps of access routes and parking for adjacent neighborhoods.
There is no parking at Zilker Park for the ACL Festival.
Bottom line: Don’t drive your car to the festival. There are so many better ways to get there.
The following info comes from the city’s 2019 Austin City Limits Mobility Guide.
Complimentary official festival shuttle buses and city buses
Pickup and dropoff stops for free, ACL-provided shuttles are at Republic Square Park (Fourth and Guadalupe streets) and the Barton Springs West Entrance of the festival. On both weekends, they start at Republic Square at noon Fridays and at 11 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays. They make their final return trips at 11 p.m. each day of the festival.
Capital Metro city buses 801 MetroRapid, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 10, 17, 19, and 20 make regular stops at or near Republic Square. Check the Cap Metro app or the trip planner on their website for schedules.
If you want to skip the shuttle, the MetroRapid Route 803 will get you closest to the Barton Springs East Entrance.
Bicycles and electric scooters
The city’s bright red B-cycles can be rented at dozens of docks around Austin and dropped off at the ACL B-cycle station and valet service at Barton Springs Road and Sterzing Street.
There will be parking racks for personal bikes along Toomey Road and limited secondary parking areas along Azie Morton Road as well as an area along Stratford Drive for personal bicycles only.
Micromobility (dockless bicycles and e-scooters)
E-scooters are not allowed on park and hike-and-bike trails. Micromobility devices are not allowed at the event entrance.
There will designated drop-off areas along Toomey Road and limited secondary drop-off areas along Azie Morton Road and in Veterans Park, between Veterans Drive and MoPac Expressway. The Veterans Park area is exclusively for dockless bicycle and scooter drop-off (no personal bicycle parking).
Dropped-off micromobility devices will be picked up and dispersed throughout the service area to avoid congestion. Micromobility options will not be available at ACL drop-off locations at the end of the night.
Pedicab drivers are licensed and regulated by the city and usually negotiate a price before takeoff or charge by the block. To get to the festival in one, you’ll need to flag one down, probably in the downtown area. Getting back by pedicab is easier; the pickup/drop-off area is on the northeast corner of Barton Springs Road and Azie Morton Road, near the festival entrance.
Traditional taxi services in Austin are in high demand during the festival. There is a stand on the festival grounds as well as designated drop-off zones. If you want a cab to take you to the festival, you might need to call and reserve one. There are four companies: Yellow Cab Austin, (512) 452-9999; Lone Star Cab, (512) 836-4900; Austin Cab Company, (512) 478-2222; and Austin Taxi Co-op, (512) 333-5555.
Ride Austin is the local, nonprofit ride-hailing app, available along with Lyft and Uber. All ride-hailing vehicles will have three pick-up/drop-off points (all designated on the festival map):
- Wallingwood Drive at the MoPac frontage road
- Stephen F. Austin/Veterans Drive
- Lee Barton Drive
ACL Fest has partnered with Uber. When booking one, type “Austin City Limits Music Festival” or “Zilker Park” into your app as your destination. This will update your dropoff point to the one nearest to the festival area.
In order to request a ride from the festival, you must walk outside of the park’s restricted area and cross the river, South Lamar Boulevard, or you must first exit the festival and walk away from Zilker Park to get outside of the restricted area. You will be able to request a ride as normal in the app once you’ve crossed the River, South Lamar Boulevard, or the MoPac frontage road near the park.