Austin is located in the southern United States and known for its live music events and culinary scene. A visit to Austin includes a deep dive into rich, southern culture and the opportunity to enjoy everything from paddleboarding and biking to feasting and learning about Mexican culture. Finding the best time to visit Austin means discovering the types of things you enjoy on vacation.
Certain times of the year are better for outdoor activities while others are better suited for budget-minded travelers. This Austin travel guide will help you figure out the best time to visit Austin depending on your interests. You’ll get the inside scoop on the best local events for each month and the best times to visit based on weather.
Best Times to Visit Austin
High Season (March-May & September-October)
The best time of year to visit Austin is in spring or fall because the weather is more mild. The average temperature in Austin during spring and fall hovers in the 60’s and 70’s.
The average high temperature for March is typically 69 to 75 degrees Fahrenheit and 71 degrees Fahrenheit in November. It’s not cool and chilly like in winter and not overwhelmingly hot like the summer months. This is also the best time to visit Austin if you want to stroll through Zilker Park or enjoy the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center.
The mild weather means you’ll have to share your sightseeing adventures with other tourists. For decent weather and fewer crowds, try visiting at the end of February or the beginning of November.
Shoulder Season (November-February & June)
Shoulder season brings cooler temperatures and fewer crowds, allowing you to really dive into the local scene in Austin. Popular food trucks and the best restaurants may offer seasonal deals and will be less packed. On cooler or rainy days, check out a guided tour at the State Capitol or visit one of the city’s art museums such as the Blanton Museum.
Low Season (July & August)
Low season in Austin is in the middle of summer vacations. The weather in Austin is extremely hot during this time of year. It’s the perfect time of year to cool off with a dip in Barton Springs Pool. It’s also the best time to visit Austin for people on a budget as hotel prices are lower.
The Best Austin Events Each Month
Austin Free Week
Free Week is an annual event held in the Red River Cultural District. The week-long event features more than 180 bands in nine different music venues. All shows are completely free and within walking distance of each other. Make sure to wear comfortable shoes and take a light jacket as the evenings can be cooler in January. You’ll also want to get to the venue early if there is a particular artist you are dying to see as some shows fill up fast.
February is shoulder season is Austin and a great time to tackle a full marathon or half marathon. The Austin Marathon also features a 5K for people who want to get their feet wet in the world of running. The event draws 20,000 participants and the route passes through landmarks such as SOCO and Hyde Park before finishing at the state Capitol.
South By Southwest Music Festival (SXSW)
South By Southwest is arguably the largest festival in Austin, Texas. The festival aims to showcase the latest trends and rising stars in the film and music industries. The event features live performances form hundreds of artists across more than 100 stages spread throughout Austin. The 10-day event is all about learning, discovery, and networking.
No visit to Texas would be complete without a bull-ride. Watch the sport’s greatest master the art of bull riding at the Austin Rodeo. The event features the main rodeo event as well as live music, a lively fair, and livestock show. Grab your cowboy hat and boots and head on down to the rodeo grounds to experience this time-honored event.
Zilker Kite Festival
The Zilker Kite Festival is a one-day event where imagination takes flight as kites take to the skies. The festival features a kite showcase, competition, and fun run for Austinites and visitors alike. The event is tailored to families and aims to inspire creativity in children.
Austin Urban Music Festival
The Austin Urban Music Festival is held on the last weekend of May and features performances by soul, gospel, R&B, and jazz artists. The event is part of African American tourist weekend in combination with Texas Relays. The festival draws more than 60,000 attendees and strives to create an Afrocentric experience with local, regional, and national artists.
Texas Burlesque Festival
The Texas Burlesque Festival adds a Vegas-like atmosphere with burlesque and vaudeville performances. The event features parties, roundtable discussions, brunch, and workshops in addition to lively performances. The cabaret festival aims to entertain and also serves as a place for burlesque performers to network with other industry professionals.
Texas Community Music Festival
The Texas Community Music Festival is a two-week-long event that occurs during the latter half of April. The event features live music at Central Market North and is a great place to discover new artists and listen to classical favorites.
Lone Star Jam
The Lone Star Jam is a country music festival featuring dozens of local and national performers. The festival is held on Memorial Day weekend and serves up craft beers, Topo Chico, and other Austin favorites right on the grounds.
Cinco De Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is a big deal in Austin. The city hosts a variety of events from dance festivals and movie-nights to food and drink events paired with live Mexican music. Stop by the Rancho Alegre Conjunto Music Festival for a family-friendly event that celebrates the music of Mexican artists.
Austin Cap Tex Triathlon
This is the only triathlon held in downtown Austin and serves as the kickoff to summer. The triathlon begins with a .93 mile swim in Lady Bird Lake followed by the 24.3-mile bike portion that takes participants through the heart of downtown. The final leg of the race consists of a 6.2 mile run through Butler Park and finishes at Vic Mathias Store. You can also opt for the Sprint distance or SuperSprint lengths which are shorter than the International Distance event.
Keep Austin Weird Festival (Fun Stop 5K and Fest)
The Keep Austin Weird Festival rebranded in 2018 to the Fun Stop 5K and Fest. The event features a 5K race with “fun stops” that include alcohol, foam pits, and puppy-kissing photo booths. Don’t miss the super-soaker war zone and fuel up at the donut stops along the way. The event takes place at the end of June and starts at Riverside Drive.
Blanco Lavender Festival
Blanco is a town in the Texas Hill Country that prides itself on connecting people with nature. The town hosts an annual Lavender Fest in mid-June, which features a lavender market and speakers that educate on horticulture and lavender use. Don’t miss the lavender market outside the old county courthouse and make sure to enjoy the live music in Bindseil Park.
Fourth of July Symphony
Spread out a picnic on a grassy spot and enjoy the fireworks show and music from the Austin Symphony Orchestra. The event draws tens of thousands of Americans so make sure to get there early to stake out a good spot. The music is scheduled to start at 8:30 pm and is followed by mile-high fireworks that illuminate the sky to celebrate the birth of America.
Float Fest is the best way to cool off in the peak summer months. The event was canceled in 2019 due to logistical issues in its former South Austin location and weather. The event will be held in 2020 in the town of Gonzales — an hour south of Austin. It’s the perfect day trip and opportunity to cool off if you visit in the low season. The event typically lands in the middle of July and features live music from artists like Major Lazer, Zed’s Dead, and Gucci Mane. The event generally features camping and floating on the river, though the exact format may change with the location move.
Austin offers nature-lovers a unique experience over on the Congress Avenue Bridge. The bridge is home to more than 1 million Mexican free-tailed bats — the largest urban colony of bats in the United States. The bats can be seen taking flight during dusk from March to October, making these months among the best time to visit Austin. The Bat Fest is a special event held in mid-August that features music sets on two stages, arts and crafts vendors, and bat costume competitions.
The Austin Pride Festival features live acts and a vibrant parade that starts at the state capitol. You’ll witness vibrant personalities, stunning grand floats, and entertainment all day long as you celebrate equal rights for the LGBTQI community. The street festival draws more than 400,000 people and is a great way to dive into the soul and community vibe of Austin.
Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival
Is the summertime heat not hot enough for you? Get your spice on with the Austin Hot Sauce Festival in mid-August. The event attracts tens of thousands of attendees and offers samples of hot sauce from mild and moderate to knock-your-socks-off spicy. No Austin festival is complete without delicious food options and some live music to go with those spicy sauces.
Austin Ice Cream Festival
Get the scoop on one of the tastiest events in Austin. The Austin Ice Cream Festival is held near Festival Beach and offers a delicious way to cool off in the summer heat. The festival features ice cream from hundreds of local and national sellers along with family-friendly activities such as face painting, contests, and live music.
Texas Craft Brewers Festival
Beer is an integral part of the Austin food scene. If you’re looking for the best time to visit Austin for delicious brews, September is the answer. The Texas Craft Brewer Festival takes place the third Saturday of September and offers the opportunity o try craft beers from more than 60 breweries across the state. You’ll enjoy brews from San Antonio, Dallas, Fort Worth, Houston, and more while enjoying the ambiance of the Fiesta Gardens.
Austin Film Festival
The Austin Film Festival caters to the work of screenwriters in the movie industry and is also known as the Writers Festival. This week-long event features panels and discussions on movie industry trends with some of the most famous filmmakers in the world. You’ll also be treated to more than 100 films that are screened daily throughout the event.
Austin City Limits Music Festival
The Austin City Limits Music Festival spans two weekends in October and features over one hundred musical acts from local bands to famous names like Kacey Musgraves. The 2019 lineup includes performances by Childish Gambino, Cardi B, and Guns N’ Roses. Don’t Miss the ACL Eats food court, which features tasty food from the best restaurants in Austin.
Austin Dia De Los Muertos
Nothing says October quite like Halloween celebrations and Day of the Dead events. Events feature cultural influences form Austin’s Mexican community and last for one month — typically starting in the middle of October. Visit the Mexic-Arte Museum for traditional foods, a celebration of Mexican arts, and hands-on activities.
Head to Centennial Plaza in Round Rock or the Central Market to see cultural celebrations from Samba dances and ballet folklorico to mariachi. The University of Texas also holds a Day of the Dead event on November 1st where participants can decorate sugar skulls, build altars, and learn about the cultural significance of the holiday.
East Austin Studio Tour
Austin is widely known for its culinary scene and live music, but the city is also home to exquisite museums including the Blanton Museum and the Jones Center. November is one of the best times to visit Austin thanks to the Austin Studio Tour. The event spans the latter two weekends in November and takes participants on a journey through galleries and studios. The event also features an opening night party and art-themed evenings.
German Christmas Market
For those looking for a European flair at Christmas time, Austin offers up a traditional German Christmas market. The market is typically held on the first Saturday of the month and features German music, cuisine, and artisanal crafts.
Austin Trail of Lights
‘Tis the season for twinkling lights and glittering décor. The Austin Trail of Lights celebrates the holiday season with a light display that stretches for a mile. The trail is located in Zilker Park and can be seen from the first of December through the end of the year. Each year brings new light displays and décor themes, making it a great family tradition for locals and tourists alike.
Armadillo Christmas Bazaar
The Palmer Events Center hosts a Christmas bazaar that combines the flavors of an art fair and music festival. Here, you can enjoy free live music from local performers and buy exquisitely handcrafted items that are perfect stocking stuffers.
New Year’s Eve
New Year’s Eve in Austin is a great time to explore cultural celebrations of new beginnings. The New Year’s Eve festival takes place each year at Auditorium Shores and features stunning performances from aerial acrobats to tasty treats from famous food trucks. The night is completed by a beautiful fireworks display that lights up the skyline.