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Labor Day 2017: Free things to do and places to go in Austin

From radio-controlled airplane shows to public art tours

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The so-called last weekend of summer is upon us, and for many, it couldn’t come soon enough. This will be an unusual Labor Day Weekend for those of us sticking around the city, including our many guests who evacuated areas affected by hurricane/tropical storm Harvey.

Thankfully, there’s a wide array of events for all ages available in Austin this weekend. Here’s a list of free or almost-free shindigs from which to choose. So rest up, have fun, and stay safe!

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1. Austin Radio Control Associates

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8705 Lindell Ln
Austin, TX 78724
(512) 272-8402
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On Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Austin Radio Control Association will host its 2017 Fall Big Bird RC Airshow. Pilots from all over Texas and the Southwest will be flying scale radio control airplanes, including aerobatic aircraft, WWI biplanes, and modern civilian scale models.

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2. Landmarks Walking Tour, UT Campus, Gordon-White Building

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210 W 24th St
Austin, TX 78705

UT’s Landmarks program is presenting for a docent-led walking tour of works in the university’s public art collection. Participants should meet docent Michael Ray Charles (Forever Free) Ideas, Languages and Conversations in the Gordon-White Building on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 11 a.m. and depart from there to learn about how found objects are used in public art projects around campus.

Photo of large orange metal outdoor abstract sculpture
Clock Knot (2007) by Mark di Suvero
Ben Aqua via Landmarks

3. Neill-Cochran House Museum

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2310 San Gabriel St
Austin, TX 78705
(512) 478-2335
Visit Website

In celebration of the handmade art that decorated American households in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Neill-Cochran House Museum will host a hands-on art-making event on Sunday, Sept. 3, 1-4 pm. Materials for building and decorating your own whirligig, pinwheel, or buzzer will be provided. There will also be a chance to go on a scavenger hunt, play heritage games, or grab a bite at the outdoor museum cafe. 

Neill-Chochran House Museum

4. In.gredients Block Party

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2610 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
(512) 275-6357
Visit Website

Grocery/deli/beer joint in.gredients will host a free block party Friday, Sept. 1, 6-9 p.m., with Batty Jr. playing their eclectic tunes and samples on offer from local vendors including Boulanger Fermentations, All We Need Farms, Texas Coffee Traders, the Austin Winery, and more. In.gredients will also be showing off its brand new, ship-shaped playground. A portion of the proceeds from the night’s celebration will go to Workers Defense Project, an Austin-based organization that advocates for marginalized workers.

in.gredients

5. World Cup Qualifier at Haymaker

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2310 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722
(512) 243-6702
Visit Website

Catch the USMNT vs Costa Rica World Cup qualifier soccer match for free starting at 5:30 p.m. This will mean much to soccer fiends, believe us. Members from American Outlaws Corpus ChristiAmerican Outlaws Houston Chapter, and anyone displaced to Austin by flooding will be Haymaker‘s guests for USA vs Costa Rica.

6. Bullock Texas State History Museum

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1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 936-8746
Visit Website

H-E-B Free First Sundays at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum offer the opportunity to explore the history of Texas for free. Three floors of exhibitions and Texas artifacts include the story of La Belle: The Ship That Changed History. The museum is also currently featuring the chance to play more than a dozen iconic video games in Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic Gaming.

Bob Bullock Museum

7. Downs-Mabson Fields

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2816 E 12th St
Austin, TX 78702
(512) 974-6700
Visit Website

Downs Field, as it’s usually called, was once the home field of the Austin Black Senators (a team in the professional “Negro League” of the pre-integration area), and the Huston-Tillotson University Rams continue to play there. Austin's African American Cultural District, known as Six Square, will host a free community festival there on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring live music, food, DJs, and family-friendly fun.

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8. Unity March and Concert

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1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-4630
Visit Website

There will be a Unity March and Concert on the Capitol grounds Saturday, Sept. 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate Texas’ diverse communities of color as they come together to show that they are powerful and united against hate. Grammy-nominated musical group Voz de Mando will perform. 

Texas Capitol building with statue of a cowboy and some blooming yucca plants out front Ed Schipul/Flicker

9. Film Family Labor Day at the Texas Capitol

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1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 463-4630
Visit Website

A Monday, Sept. 5, event that actually celebrates labor, Film Family Labor Day honors and educates the public about the entertainment crews and filmmakers of Texas, hosted by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 484 Young Workers Committee. The party will take place noon to 3 p.m. on the southwest Capitol grounds and will include food, activities, and fun. Activities will include live stunts, steady camera operation, film grip dollies, make-up artist face painting, lawn games, chroma-key fun, movie set props, wardrobe photo booth, and great demonstrations provided by industry affiliates.

10. Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

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810 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 974-7480
Visit Website

It seems like uncanny timing, but the “Finding Refuge in Austin, 1848 to 1980” exhibit at the Austin History Center has been on display since February and is scheduled to end Sept. 17. The show “considers how refugees in Austin have grappled with these challenges and worked to empower themselves and their communities” and explores the ways in which Austin and Travis County have provided space for temporary refugees or new communities to flourish while also addressing the discrimination they have faced when claiming Austin as their new home. 

AR.2009.048(125), Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

11. Free Day of Yoga

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525 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703
(512) 476-1206
Visit Website

Labor Day is traditionally a day in many cities, including Austin, when studios and instructors offer free yoga classes all day, all over town. We’ve chosen the downtown Whole Foods for our map point because they’re kicking off the day with a 7 a.m. class, but you can see a list and schedule of all the classes available everywhere at here.

12. The bats at Congress Avenue Bridge

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Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

Austin is the seasonal home for the largest population of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. They winter in Yucatan, Mexico then fly north each spring to nestle under the Congress Avenue bridge until late fall. Labor Day Weekend is prime time for Austin bat-watching, and it’s free to watch from the bridge as well as the designated spot on Austin American-Statesman grounds just south of the bridge.

Photo of bats leaving Congress Ave bridge
Bats on the move

13. Forever Bicycles at Waller Delta/Waller Creek Boathouse

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71 Trinity St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 831-4922
Visit Website

What better weekend than to frolic in the Ai WeiWei sculptures that currently grace Town Lake?  Forever Bicycles is a a grand optical illusion that currently sits at the meeting point of the ever-evolving Waller Creek trail and the river, watching over the completion of long-awaited flood control and providing scads of photo ops.

A very large sculpture of stacked bicycles
Forever Bicycles by AiWeiWei
Via Waller Creek Conservancy/Facebook

14. Alamo Drafthouse

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1120 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704
(512) 861-7040
Visit Website

Among the Alamo Drafthouse’s many Harvey relief efforts, it’s offering free admission through Sept. to hurricane evacuees in its Austin, Laredo, New Braunfels, and San Antonio theaters. Even if you’re lucky enough not to be an evacuee, when you spring for a (generally very affordable) ticket online, you will have an option to add a donation to the cause

Note: Tickets are available at Alamo Drafthouse box office only with valid ID from affected areas. Admissions are for first run films only and do not apply to special engagements or private events. All latecomer, talking/texting and age policies apply. 

Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline

15. Volunteer!

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500 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701
(512) 404-4000
Visit Website

We’ll be hosting quite a few guests who evacuated the Gulf Coast this weekend. Why not devote a couple of hours this long weekend to helping them out? To be honest, we just posted the Austin Convention Center address here because that will be the central shelter (and because it gave us an excuse to run a picture of this adorable service dog), but there are many ways and places to volunteer. Just make sure to call or email first to see who needs what, as those things are always changing.

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1. Austin Radio Control Associates

8705 Lindell Ln, Austin, TX 78724

On Friday and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., the Austin Radio Control Association will host its 2017 Fall Big Bird RC Airshow. Pilots from all over Texas and the Southwest will be flying scale radio control airplanes, including aerobatic aircraft, WWI biplanes, and modern civilian scale models.

8705 Lindell Ln
Austin, TX 78724

2. Landmarks Walking Tour, UT Campus, Gordon-White Building

210 W 24th St, Austin, TX 78705
Photo of large orange metal outdoor abstract sculpture
Clock Knot (2007) by Mark di Suvero
Ben Aqua via Landmarks

UT’s Landmarks program is presenting for a docent-led walking tour of works in the university’s public art collection. Participants should meet docent Michael Ray Charles (Forever Free) Ideas, Languages and Conversations in the Gordon-White Building on Sunday, Sept. 3, at 11 a.m. and depart from there to learn about how found objects are used in public art projects around campus.

210 W 24th St
Austin, TX 78705

3. Neill-Cochran House Museum

2310 San Gabriel St, Austin, TX 78705
Neill-Chochran House Museum

In celebration of the handmade art that decorated American households in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the Neill-Cochran House Museum will host a hands-on art-making event on Sunday, Sept. 3, 1-4 pm. Materials for building and decorating your own whirligig, pinwheel, or buzzer will be provided. There will also be a chance to go on a scavenger hunt, play heritage games, or grab a bite at the outdoor museum cafe. 

2310 San Gabriel St
Austin, TX 78705

4. In.gredients Block Party

2610 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722
in.gredients

Grocery/deli/beer joint in.gredients will host a free block party Friday, Sept. 1, 6-9 p.m., with Batty Jr. playing their eclectic tunes and samples on offer from local vendors including Boulanger Fermentations, All We Need Farms, Texas Coffee Traders, the Austin Winery, and more. In.gredients will also be showing off its brand new, ship-shaped playground. A portion of the proceeds from the night’s celebration will go to Workers Defense Project, an Austin-based organization that advocates for marginalized workers.

2610 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722

5. World Cup Qualifier at Haymaker

2310 Manor Rd, Austin, TX 78722

Catch the USMNT vs Costa Rica World Cup qualifier soccer match for free starting at 5:30 p.m. This will mean much to soccer fiends, believe us. Members from American Outlaws Corpus ChristiAmerican Outlaws Houston Chapter, and anyone displaced to Austin by flooding will be Haymaker‘s guests for USA vs Costa Rica.

2310 Manor Rd
Austin, TX 78722

6. Bullock Texas State History Museum

1800 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Bob Bullock Museum

H-E-B Free First Sundays at the Bob Bullock Texas State History Museum offer the opportunity to explore the history of Texas for free. Three floors of exhibitions and Texas artifacts include the story of La Belle: The Ship That Changed History. The museum is also currently featuring the chance to play more than a dozen iconic video games in Pong to Pokémon: The Evolution of Electronic Gaming.

1800 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

7. Downs-Mabson Fields

2816 E 12th St, Austin, TX 78702

Downs Field, as it’s usually called, was once the home field of the Austin Black Senators (a team in the professional “Negro League” of the pre-integration area), and the Huston-Tillotson University Rams continue to play there. Austin's African American Cultural District, known as Six Square, will host a free community festival there on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., featuring live music, food, DJs, and family-friendly fun.

2816 E 12th St
Austin, TX 78702

8. Unity March and Concert

1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701
Texas Capitol building with statue of a cowboy and some blooming yucca plants out front Ed Schipul/Flicker

There will be a Unity March and Concert on the Capitol grounds Saturday, Sept. 2 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate Texas’ diverse communities of color as they come together to show that they are powerful and united against hate. Grammy-nominated musical group Voz de Mando will perform. 

1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

9. Film Family Labor Day at the Texas Capitol

1100 Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78701

A Monday, Sept. 5, event that actually celebrates labor, Film Family Labor Day honors and educates the public about the entertainment crews and filmmakers of Texas, hosted by the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 484 Young Workers Committee. The party will take place noon to 3 p.m. on the southwest Capitol grounds and will include food, activities, and fun. Activities will include live stunts, steady camera operation, film grip dollies, make-up artist face painting, lawn games, chroma-key fun, movie set props, wardrobe photo booth, and great demonstrations provided by industry affiliates.

1100 Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78701

10. Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

810 Guadalupe St, Austin, TX 78701
AR.2009.048(125), Austin History Center, Austin Public Library

It seems like uncanny timing, but the “Finding Refuge in Austin, 1848 to 1980” exhibit at the Austin History Center has been on display since February and is scheduled to end Sept. 17. The show “considers how refugees in Austin have grappled with these challenges and worked to empower themselves and their communities” and explores the ways in which Austin and Travis County have provided space for temporary refugees or new communities to flourish while also addressing the discrimination they have faced when claiming Austin as their new home. 

810 Guadalupe St
Austin, TX 78701

11. Free Day of Yoga

525 N Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78703

Labor Day is traditionally a day in many cities, including Austin, when studios and instructors offer free yoga classes all day, all over town. We’ve chosen the downtown Whole Foods for our map point because they’re kicking off the day with a 7 a.m. class, but you can see a list and schedule of all the classes available everywhere at here.

525 N Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78703

12. The bats at Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Ave, Austin, TX 78704
Photo of bats leaving Congress Ave bridge
Bats on the move

Austin is the seasonal home for the largest population of Mexican free-tailed bats in North America. They winter in Yucatan, Mexico then fly north each spring to nestle under the Congress Avenue bridge until late fall. Labor Day Weekend is prime time for Austin bat-watching, and it’s free to watch from the bridge as well as the designated spot on Austin American-Statesman grounds just south of the bridge.

Congress Ave
Austin, TX 78704

13. Forever Bicycles at Waller Delta/Waller Creek Boathouse

71 Trinity St, Austin, TX 78701
A very large sculpture of stacked bicycles
Forever Bicycles by AiWeiWei
Via Waller Creek Conservancy/Facebook

What better weekend than to frolic in the Ai WeiWei sculptures that currently grace Town Lake?  Forever Bicycles is a a grand optical illusion that currently sits at the meeting point of the ever-evolving Waller Creek trail and the river, watching over the completion of long-awaited flood control and providing scads of photo ops.

71 Trinity St
Austin, TX 78701

14. Alamo Drafthouse

1120 S Lamar Blvd, Austin, TX 78704
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline
Alamo Drafthouse Lakeline

Among the Alamo Drafthouse’s many Harvey relief efforts, it’s offering free admission through Sept. to hurricane evacuees in its Austin, Laredo, New Braunfels, and San Antonio theaters. Even if you’re lucky enough not to be an evacuee, when you spring for a (generally very affordable) ticket online, you will have an option to add a donation to the cause

Note: Tickets are available at Alamo Drafthouse box office only with valid ID from affected areas. Admissions are for first run films only and do not apply to special engagements or private events. All latecomer, talking/texting and age policies apply. 

1120 S Lamar Blvd
Austin, TX 78704

15. Volunteer!

500 E Cesar Chavez St, Austin, TX 78701

We’ll be hosting quite a few guests who evacuated the Gulf Coast this weekend. Why not devote a couple of hours this long weekend to helping them out? To be honest, we just posted the Austin Convention Center address here because that will be the central shelter (and because it gave us an excuse to run a picture of this adorable service dog), but there are many ways and places to volunteer. Just make sure to call or email first to see who needs what, as those things are always changing.

500 E Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78701