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Where to celebrate with the exploding light of a new year
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Where to watch New Year’s Eve 2019 fireworks in Austin

A handy guide map for viewing the city’s explosive celebration

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Where to celebrate with the exploding light of a new year
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The city’s official way of celebrating New Year’s Eve, Austin’s New Year, is a free (and alcohol-free), family-friendly extravaganza at Vic Mathias (aka Auditorium) Shores. The event, which opens at 3 p.m., includes numerous stages with music and other performances, art and art vendors, kids activities, a food court, and other fun stuff. It’s also the best place to watch the fireworks close-up, although crowds will no doubt be quite large all day. They’ll start and 10 p.m. and will cap off the festival.

Barring a stray storm or tornado (not currently in the forecast, but things can change), there will be scads of people at the event, as well as quite a few road closures (and partial closures) for most of the day and evening; the event site has detailed information about those as well as advice on parking and how to get around the festival in general.

If you want to avoid the traffic and parking nightmare around the big event and don't have friends in high places (a downtown condo, a mansion just down the road from Mount Bonnell) or tickets to a pricey party, you might find this map of other watching spaces helpful.

Finally, our sibling site Eater Austin has the scoop on the best restaurants, bars, and parties for ringing in the New Year, from dinner spots to midnight bashes to the next day’s brunch.

Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below or hit us up on the tipline.

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Mount Bonnell

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Technically, the small park atop the highest natural viewpoint in the city closes at sunset, but the parks service usually extends hours on special occasions. You know the drill: Show up early and bring a blanket or sit on the ground.

Pennybacker (360) Bridge Overlook

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The panoramic view from the 360 Bridge Overlook near Pennybacker Bridge is spectacular, and even more so when you add a perfect view of the evening’s fireworks to the mix. Word is out about that, by the way, so get there early. The parking lot for the overlook is located on north side of Highway 360 just before the bridge on the west side. Look for the roadside parking lot under a cliff just past West Courtyard Drive, and bring a blanket or chair.

St. Edward's University sports fields

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Since St. Edward’s is a lesser-known viewpoint, it probably isn’t crucial for you to show up early, but if you’re late, do expect the field to be populated with locals and students in the know. Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair, or plan to commandeer the bleachers.

Barton Creek Square mall parking lot

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Located atop a natural high point in Austin, Barton Creek Square mall has a spectacular view of downtown from its parking lot and, therefore, any fireworks happening above the city. Plus a decent amount of, you know, parking.

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Zilker Metropolitan Park

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Our sprawling central city park has many excellent vantage points from which to watch the very nearby explosions in the sky. Just like other fireworks-adjacent areas, though, it will be crowded and best reached by foot, bike, or bus if possible. Remember that there are, at least until that MLS team shows up, many nearby public areas with excellent viewpoints, including Shoal Beach, Sand Beach Park, Butler Park, Rock Island, Lamar Beach, Redbud Isle, and Deep Eddy Park.

Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

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You don't have to worry about cars on this bridge, of course, which is a distinct advantage. As always bears repeating, get there very early, as it will be packed way before the fireworks start. Also, it's generally bad form to bring a blanket or chair so as many people as possible can get a spot.

South First Street Bridge

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This will get you even closer to the action than the Congress Avenue bridge, but know that will need to have the whole time.

Congress Avenue Bridge

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Bats aren't the only thing to watch from the Congress Avenue bridge. Just as when the bats come out, though, the street remains open to cars and is usually busy, so keep that in mind. Safety first!

Congress Avenue Bridge
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Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail

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There are plenty of places along both shores of the lake that will put you practically underneath the fireworks (bring a flashlight for when it's time to find your way out, though). Bonus points for biking or walking to your destination rather than adding to the traffic and mess closer to the event. One exception: According to the Austin Symphony website, the lower portion of the Hike & Bike Trail on the north side of Lady Bird Lake (between the Seaholm intake structure and South First Street) will be closed as needed for safety. The upper sidewalk along Cesar Chavez will remain open.

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Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve scenic overlook`

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This spot on the western edge of the Wild Basin preserve provides a great view of downtown that zooms right over the basin.

A post shared by Miles Wallace (@miles5384) on

Mount Bonnell

Technically, the small park atop the highest natural viewpoint in the city closes at sunset, but the parks service usually extends hours on special occasions. You know the drill: Show up early and bring a blanket or sit on the ground.

Pennybacker (360) Bridge Overlook

The panoramic view from the 360 Bridge Overlook near Pennybacker Bridge is spectacular, and even more so when you add a perfect view of the evening’s fireworks to the mix. Word is out about that, by the way, so get there early. The parking lot for the overlook is located on north side of Highway 360 just before the bridge on the west side. Look for the roadside parking lot under a cliff just past West Courtyard Drive, and bring a blanket or chair.

St. Edward's University sports fields

Since St. Edward’s is a lesser-known viewpoint, it probably isn’t crucial for you to show up early, but if you’re late, do expect the field to be populated with locals and students in the know. Bring a picnic blanket or lawn chair, or plan to commandeer the bleachers.

Barton Creek Square mall parking lot

Located atop a natural high point in Austin, Barton Creek Square mall has a spectacular view of downtown from its parking lot and, therefore, any fireworks happening above the city. Plus a decent amount of, you know, parking.

A post shared by Ben Zavala (@lovesdfw) on

Zilker Metropolitan Park

Our sprawling central city park has many excellent vantage points from which to watch the very nearby explosions in the sky. Just like other fireworks-adjacent areas, though, it will be crowded and best reached by foot, bike, or bus if possible. Remember that there are, at least until that MLS team shows up, many nearby public areas with excellent viewpoints, including Shoal Beach, Sand Beach Park, Butler Park, Rock Island, Lamar Beach, Redbud Isle, and Deep Eddy Park.

Pfluger Pedestrian Bridge

You don't have to worry about cars on this bridge, of course, which is a distinct advantage. As always bears repeating, get there very early, as it will be packed way before the fireworks start. Also, it's generally bad form to bring a blanket or chair so as many people as possible can get a spot.

South First Street Bridge

This will get you even closer to the action than the Congress Avenue bridge, but know that will need to have the whole time.

Congress Avenue Bridge

Congress Avenue Bridge
Shutterstock

Bats aren't the only thing to watch from the Congress Avenue bridge. Just as when the bats come out, though, the street remains open to cars and is usually busy, so keep that in mind. Safety first!

Congress Avenue Bridge
Shutterstock

Roy and Ann Butler Hike and Bike Trail

Shutterstock

There are plenty of places along both shores of the lake that will put you practically underneath the fireworks (bring a flashlight for when it's time to find your way out, though). Bonus points for biking or walking to your destination rather than adding to the traffic and mess closer to the event. One exception: According to the Austin Symphony website, the lower portion of the Hike & Bike Trail on the north side of Lady Bird Lake (between the Seaholm intake structure and South First Street) will be closed as needed for safety. The upper sidewalk along Cesar Chavez will remain open.

Shutterstock

Wild Basin Wilderness Preserve scenic overlook`

This spot on the western edge of the Wild Basin preserve provides a great view of downtown that zooms right over the basin.

A post shared by Miles Wallace (@miles5384) on