2021 Austin City Limits Music Festival — Insider’s Guide

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! The Austin City Limits Music Festival is finally here! Our own Autumn Rich and Lisa Hickey helped kick off the legendary music festival 20 years ago and they’ve come full circle! ACL is definitely not the same as it was in 2002, but there are so many fun changes in the works for this year’s fest despite the ongoing pandemic. To keep us all safe, ACL is requiring a negative COVID test within 72 hours of the festival, or proof of full vaccination. Panacea Collective is outfitting the VIP Grove, Media Lounge, Tito’s Lounge, the vrbo Lounge, headliner compounds for acts like Miley Cyrus and George Strait, and more! Come check out our designs and see you at the Park!


ACL Fits

Overall, you want to wear something cool and breezy because although it is October, we are still in Texas. These are long days, so comfort is the order of the day. Avoid sandals or anything open-toed (big crowds can lead to people trampling all over each other). Speaking of, wear shoes that you don’t mind getting a little dirty. Pack light. Small clutch purses and fanny packs that are 4.5″ x 5.5″ or smaller do not need to be clear, but can have no more than one pocket. All other bags must be fully clear and made up of clear plastic, vinyl, or pvc, and be no larger than 12″ x 12″ x 6″ ONLY. Bags will be restricted to small purses, totes and drawstring bags only. Backpacks and bags with multiple pockets are prohibited. Wear something you feel confident in and don’t be afraid to peacock a little. You can go for the bohemian look, festival vibes, rock n roll, or disco country. Check out our Pinterest if you need some inspo! Here’s some of our favorite looks…


Start the day off right, and late night bites!

It’s important to get your festival days started out on the right foot! Some of our favorites near Zilker are Pool Burger, Tumble 22, and the restaurants at Proper Hotel. Be sure to grab a yummy, sustainable bite for brunch before you hit Zilker Park. Eberly has the best brunch for Saturday, and Sunday morning. Try Sammie’s Italian to get a full stomach coating, or El Alma for a nice rooftop patio and a frosty margarita close to the park. Café No Sé at the South Congress Hotel serves breakfast and brunch all weekend. And to close out the weekend, be sure to hit up Sunday brunch at Fresa’s dine-in location on South First. Looking for a quality post-ACL meal? Justine’s and Casino El Camino stay open until 2am for late night dining. Go to the Texas Chili Parlor for a bowl of nostalgia. Get a late night comfort meal at 24 hour Magnolia Cafe. Don’t want to forget our favorite place to connect, Soho House Austin! Lastly, pizza by the slice from Favorite Pizza.



Acts not to miss!

The 20th annual ACL Fest is featuring some of our all-time faves, so make the most of your festival schedule! The Silent Disco is returning to the fest this year every night! Check them out and be ready to get your groove on. Don’t miss Billie Eilish, who will surely blow us all away with her angelic voice. Miley or George….George or Miley….can’t lose either way there. Speaking of great voices, definitely make it a point to see Phoebe Bridgers. If you want to really party, go see Megan Thee Stallion, Doja Cat, Rüfüs Du Sol, and Tyler the Creator…. St. Vincent is also a must! Other highlights off the beaten path, Marc Rebillet and Trixie Mattel. Finally, you don’t want to miss some of Austin’s local artists, such as Sir Woman, and Zach Person. Unofficial playlist here.



ACL Eats

Since the beginning of the festival, Austin Eats has been true to its local roots and as the Austin food scene has grown, so has the food scene at the festival. Therefore, it’s a sin to go hungry at this festival. The city’s greatest bites are conveniently available all weekend long. A tradition started year one is the fabulous and famous Mighty Cone. Indulge in some of the tastiest BBQ at Micklethwait. Hit up Tim Love’s Lonesome Dove Western Bistro for some swanky western cuisine bites. Chow down on some pork buns and meshi from East Side King. Grab an order of the Original Kimchi Fries from Chi’Lantro. Cool down with a deliciously sweet and perfectly tart popsicle from Good Pop or a classic scoop of Austin’s favorite, Amy’s Ice Cream. We’ve provided a full list of all of the food vendors below!



Hydration is the name of the game. But when you need something a little more than water, try some of these pick-me-ups. The fest will be providing come and take Fresh Squeezed Lemonade. If you’re lucky enough to be in the VIP Grove, mix some Tito’s in for the ultimate fest cocktail. Grab a High Brew Coffee for a cold kick of caffeine or an Espresso Martini in the vrbo Lounge if you can score passes! When all else fails, get your hands on the true Austinite favorite, Topo Chico.


Pro Tips

Above all else, stay hydrated. Bring your empty water bottle to fill at the fest and don’t forget to refill! Plan which artists you want to see, and when they perform. Do not forget to allocate time for meals! Map out your transportation plan well in advance to maximize your days at the fest. Biking is a great option if you live in striking distance of the park! There are also various shuttles that run to and from Zilker Park and other services, like pedicabs that will be more than happy to get you to the festival. And while you’re at the festival, don’t miss out on the Art Market for all kinds of local goods! For more tips, head to the ACL official website.

The After Party

Keep the party going at these late night spots! Not looking to go far? Hit up the Deep Eddy Cabaret. Go to C-Boy’s on South Congress for some R&B grooves. Try Donn’s Depot, Mean Eyed Cat, Gibson Street Bar, or Lala’s for the truest Austin vibes.


So strap on your fanny pack and meet us at the park! We can’t wait to share our favorite weekend all year with you!



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About The Author

Haley Elander

Haley earned her Bachelor of Science (B.S.) majoring in Radio, Television, Film from The University of Texas at Austin. She focused on editing and screenplay while interning at Broken Lizard Industries and The Ellen Degeneres Show.

After college she gained experience as a Project Manager, Marketing Director, and Day to Day Manager in the music industry, working with international touring bands at Triple 8 Management. Before joining Panacea she excelled in event production at Roadhouse Live, Luck Reunion, and Texas Monthly. When she isn’t making events come to life, she is a Trip Leader hosting international group travel at Legit Trips, or catching her favorite bands at Stubb’s.