SXSW may be the crown jewel of local festivals, but it's also the perfect storm of out-of-towners, crowded clubs and (gasp!) bad traffic. Here are five totally essential Austin events to check out before the festival arrives.
Official Drink of Austin
Move over, PBR. Representatives from some of Austin's greatest bars and eateries will competing at Fair Market on Thursday to create the "official" beverage of Austin for 2015. In addition to enjoying sips and a riveting cocktail showdown, you can also indulge on bites from top Austin restaurants. Bonus: Proceeds from the event go to the Austin Austin Food & Wine Alliance, a nonprofit that awards grants to local culinary community.
Brownout and KUTX present Brown Sabbath
Resident Latin funk band Brownout performs a showcase of psychedelic, Austin-centric versions of Black Sabbath. This homecoming show at ACL Live on Friday also includes special guests Aaron Behrens (Ghostland Observatory), Kyle Shutt (The Sword) and Think No Think.
2nd Street Soundcheck
The fourth annual 2nd Street Soundcheck is a free music festival with a stacked lineup of local and national talent on two big stages. Starting Saturday at 1 pm, expect music from the likes of Ben Kweller, T Bird & The Breaks, Latasha Lee & The Black Ties, The Digital Wild and more. In addition to good tunes, a handful of vendors will be serving up food, drinks and fun, from Mandola's Italian to Toy Joy. Bonus: A portion of the proceeds go to the Austin Music Foundation, which helps provide resources and opportunities for local musicians
38th Annual Carnaval Brasileiro
Nothing says Austin like Carnaval Brasileiro! This annual party mixes the best that Brazil, Austin and Mardi Gras have to offer into one amazing global shindig. We're talking samba, drums, music, dancing, costumes and more, all yours to enjoy on Saturday at the Palmer Events Center.
Tickets: $38 in advance; $45 at the door
87th Annual Zilker Kite Festival
The Zilker Kite Festival has been around for almost 90 years and is the country's oldest continuous kite festival. Head out to Zilker on Sunday where you can compete in a kite flying contest or simply revel in one of the city's favorite traditions.