It’s that time of year again. People from across the country will make their way to Austin to enjoy great music, food, and the city’s trademark weirdness. But now when people come to enjoy the Austin City Limits Music Festival, they will have two weekends to enjoy the fun.
The festival will begin this weekend and then repeat with the same musical acts October 11-13. Event organizer C3 reported an increased demand for tickets in recent years, so the decision to change the format was to accommodate the public.
“For the last few years, the demand for ACL passes has been so high that the festival sold out nearly exclusively to our e-list subscribers,” C3 festival spokesperson Lindsay Hoffman said. “By going to two weekends, we’re able to accommodate everyone who wants to come, as well as the die-hards, who can come twice.”
As a result of the additional weekend, Austin will likely see more than the 250,000 people who attended the festival last year. ACL’s impact on the local economy reaches beyond the use of Zilker Park, the festival’s venue since its first year in 2002. According to Hoffman, attendee patronage at hotels, restaurants, shops and transportation will pump money into the economy.
The festival has 28 sponsors and 38 vendors, and for Austinite Jessica Youssefi, it’s a great blend of corporate sponsorship and the local Austin vibe, but it’s not enough for her to favor the two-weekend layout.
“I think it’s more so about the money now than the actual people wanting to attend,” Youssefi said. “I went to the first ACL festival in 2002, and it was all about the music. Now it seems more about the capital.”
Youssefi, 30, said she swore off ACL forever after last year’s festival fell short of expectations, but the music couldn’t keep her away.
“Sure enough I found out two of my favorite bands are headlining, so I couldn’t stay away,” Youssefi said. “I’m a little glad the second weekend isn’t sold out. It might be less crowded.”
While some attendees like Youssefi think the cost of food and merchandise should be lower since tickets are already so expensive, local fast food chain owner Patrick Terry said he is excited to continue the relationship between his business, P. Terry’s and ACL, which began six years ago.
“It’s a great marketing tool,” Terry said. “It gets us in front of a lot of out-of-town costumers that don’t know us but were also there to serve our regular customers who eat at our burger stands.”
Many in the community are concerned about limited access to Zilker Park in the week between festivals. Jason Mauer, Sales and Events Manager for the Austin Parks and Recreation Department, said the city is working hard to accommodate those who still wish to use the park next week.
“The Great Lawn area will stay closed but the south side will be open fully in the interim week and the pool will stay open throughout the festival,” Mauer said.
The information regarding closures can be found on the ACL FAQ page. Maurer said the extra weekend will bring more tourists to the city, and C3’s rental of the park will mean additional city funding.
Mauer said he is also aware of the potential damage to Zilker Park, but he doesn’t think the two-weekend layout will be more damaging than a single weekend festival.
“We can’t predict the impact to the grass and parks ground, but we did take extensive amounts of preparation. We will just have to wait to see the impact as far as the physicality on the park,” said Maurer.
Only time will tell if the benefits of a two-weekend festival will outweigh potential damages, but Hoffman said C3 definitely expects a great festival this year.
“We expect to sell out both weekends and plan on providing an equally phenomenal experience to the 75,000 fans per day each weekend,” Hoffman said.