Visitors to Florence, Italy, are sometimes so overwhelmed by the amount of art and culture housed within the city, they report having actual physiological reactions like dizziness, confusion, and in some cases even hallucinations. Known as Stendhal Syndrome, the phenomenon was first reported in the 19th century and continues to affect Florentine visitors today, despite not actually being recognized as a real disease.
Here in Austin, we have a similar disorder, but this one is caused by exposure to an overwhelming number of events rather than priceless works of art. Symptoms of Austin Event Syndrome include feeling so overwhelmed by the number of activities scheduled for a single day you are physically paralyzed, FOMO due to social media, and sitting on the couch watching old episodes of The West Wing out of sheer frustration at being unable to choose what to do that evening.
But it doesn't have to be this way. As winter fades and we head into the mother of all Austin events, SXSW, why not resolve to spend the rest of the year attending things that are actually fun? Whether it's philanthropy, art, or just an excuse to have a good time, we've already done the research on Austin's best events for 2018, all you have to do is go.
Long Center 10th Anniversary Gala — March 3
The Long Center is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year with one heck of a party. On March 3, the venue hosts a gala featuring the Avett Brothers and Asleep at the Wheel. The biggest fundraiser of the year is celebrated in style with a plated dinner, drinks, live performances, and both a pre- and post-concert parties. Entry ranges in price depending on the sponsorship level, which can be purchased here. Don't fret if you can't make the gala; the Long Center promises to host a free celebration for all sometime this fall.
Fashion X Austin — March 29-April 7
It's another 10-year anniversary celebration, this one for Austin Fashion Week/Fashion X Austin. Though organizers are promising 10 events in celebration of the milestone, the 2018 marquee events are Austin Fashion Week Ten Year Anniversary Live at KLRU's Studio 6A on March 29; the Bernina Fashion Fund Showcase at Vault Space on April 5; and the runway shows running April 6-7.
Mack, Jack & McConaughey — April 12-13
If Austin has an unofficial mayor, it's Matthew McConaughey. In between winning Oscars, hanging out at DKR for Longhorn games, and taking out ads in the Statesman, he also finds time for charity work with MJ&M. This year, alongside Mack Brown and Jack Ingram, McConaughey brings this two-day fundraiser back to Austin for the sixth year in a row. Attendees can look forward to a star-studded golf tournament at Spanish Oaks Golf Course, a gala and fashion show, and a concert at ACL Live at the Moody Theater featuring Jack Ingram and friends. And perhaps the biggest news of all? The Dixie Chicks have been announced as headliners. Tickets for the entire weekend range from $30,000 sponsorship level options to more affordable individual options. Tickets for the Dixie Chicks go on sale March 2 at 10 am.
Waller Creek Pop-up Picnic — April 14
The city's best chefs create custom picnic baskets at this sweet, family-friendly fundraiser. Bring a basket and a bottle of vino and head to Palm Park for an evening of dining under the stars. Proceeds from the baskets (they begin at $40) benefit Waller Creek Conservancy, and with some of the city's hottest movers and shakers in attendance, you're bound to see someone you know.
Umlauf Garden Party — April 26
Part sip and stroll, part art tour, the Umlauf Garden Party is 100 percent fun. Austin restaurateurs provide light bites while guests walk the garden grounds, perusing the Umlauf's collection. Nash Hernandez Orchestra will be on hand providing tunes, and silent and live auctions promise unique entries to bid on. Proceeds from the Garden Party benefit upcoming Umlauf exhibitions and educational programs.
20th Annual Austin 40 Under 40 — May 19
The Young Women's Alliance and Young Men's Business League take over the JW Marriott for an evening celebrating the best and brightest Austinites under 40. Nominated in categories ranging from arts and architecture to law and technology, the awards ceremony caps off weeks of nominations and voting. Past winners include musician SaulPaul, Urban Betty owner Chelle Neff, architect Matt Fajkus, and Tiff's Treats co-founder Leon Chen. At the end of the evening, the YWA and YMBL crown the Austinite of the Year.
White Linen Night — August 4
By early August, it so hot it's hard to put anything on besides linen. Luckily, downtown's 2nd Street District makes this the mandatory uniform during the sixth annual White Linen Night. While details for this year's night have yet to be confirmed, we know it's going to once again benefit the Austin Food & Wine Alliance, so expect a killer restaurant lineup. Tickets range in price, but there is usually a VIP option that includes after-party access.
Ballet Austin's Fete (and Fete*ish) — September
This black-tie ballet fundraiser is truly one of the most stunning events of the year. Though Ballet Austin has only teased the 2018 affair, Fete usually features a three-course meal, live auction, and outrageously elaborate theme based on an upcoming production. And then there's Fete*ish. Where Fete is the buttoned-up conservative older sister, companion party Fete*ish is the crazy sibling who is bound to do just about anything. This is one duo you don't want to miss in 2018.
Texas Tribune Fest — September 27-29
Texas' biggest political party is back — and it's going to look a little different. Rather than hosting the three-day event on the University of Texas at Austin campus, Trib Fest is taking over downtown. Expect a lineup of political stars, notable journalists, and more. Attendees can expect the beloved Franklin Barbecue kickoff, a TribFeast dinner in support of nonprofit journalism, and trivia and movie nights.
Mexic-arte Catrina Ball — October
This festive fundraiser is celebrating its fourth year in 2018. Expect an evening of cocktails, dinner, and dancing in celebration of Mexican art and culture. And if you can't possibly wait until October, check out Mexic-arte's Taste of Mexico on May 2. Hosted at Brazos Hall, the event gives patrons the opportunity to sample fare from over 50 food trucks and restaurants, all in support of Mexic-arte programming.
Austin City Limits Hall of Fame — October
Hosted at ACL Live at the Moody Theater, this is a can't-miss for Austin culture aficionados and music lovers alike. Each year the Hall of Fame inducts its new class in style with an epic concert and party. Last year's inductees, Roseanne Cash, Roy Orbison, and the Neville Brothers, were lauded by luminaries like Elvis Costello and Dr. John. It's a can't-miss party.
Camp Contemporary — November
Glamping! Activities! Hammocks! This only-in-Austin party is just like going to summer camp — if summer camp included fabulous amenities, world-class art, and Austin's best chefs in the mess hall. While details are scant, we do know the Contemporary Austin's signature fundraiser is returning to Laguna Gloria for another two-day, overnight party. Just cannot wait an extra minute for details? Check here for updates.
ARTBASH — November
One of the top art parties of the year, ARTBASH is a fundraiser for Art Alliance Austin. The venue is always eclectic, the music is always great, the drinks are always flowing, and the interactive art experiences are always a hit. Expect to see a lot of local artists, as this also serves as a kickoff for the East Austin Studio Tour.
Black Fret Ball — December
Though it's called a ball, Black Fret Ball is an evening of wonderful local music from Austin's top performers. Throughout the evening, Black Fret peppers the performances with grant announcements which go directly into the pockets of local musicians. Past winners include Nakia, Walker Lukens, and Magna Carda, among others.