Float On

Splashy Texas music festival floats to new location with biggest lineup yet

Splashy Texas music fest floats to new locale with biggest lineup yet

Two people sit in inner tubes facing the Guadalupe River during Float Fest.
Float Fest returns after three years with a river-set music festival for the ages. Float Fest|floatfest.net

It’s never too early to start thinking about — or mentally escaping to — summer music festivals. After five years of Float Fest — the very Texan tradition of floating down the Guadalupe River in between some 20 full-fledged concerts — music lovers and dedicated floaters generally know what to expect. But this July 23 and 24, after a move and a revival, there are a few retuned upgrades.

The good old Float Fest is back in action after three years of complications, from a slippery permit that went unacquired in 2019 to the ubiquitous COVID shutdowns of 2020 and 2021. This time, it’s in a new location, a mysterious unnamed “private ranch” in Gonzales, Texas. The new digs are roughly 50 miles from the previous location in Martindale, and three times the size.

Without leaving the ranch’s 765 acres, visitors can access multiple general stores, food and drink vendors, and nearly 2 miles of river. Organizers stepped up the event with more camping (within 450 acres of shady pecan groves), floating, and parking. It’s still two days long, but guests are welcome on Friday — a great time to unwind and get familiar with the new location, within one to two hours of Austin, San Antonio, and Houston (with shuttles from the former two cities).

More than 25 bands are promised in the festival’s biggest lineup yet, to match the festival’s logistical upgrade. In September 2021, Float Fest put out a call for audience feedback on its social media channels, asking for requests for the upcoming lineup.

The most recent Float Fest, in 2018, featured headliners Bassnectar, Run the Jewels, Tame Impala, and Cold War Kids. This year, the lineup could logically include some of the jilted performers from the 2019 schedule that never was, headlined by Major Lazer, Portugal. The Man (who are starting a tour in February), Gucci Mane, and Kaskade. MISSIO, an Austin-based act on the abandoned lineup, appeared at the most recent Austin City Limits Music Festival to great success.

Gonzales, site of the 1835 Battle of Gonzales and originator of the snarky yet oh-so-Texan Come And Take It motto, is full of Texas history. From an old-fashioned town center to historic mansions, there’s plenty to see if air conditioning and a break from camping sounds appealing. The Gonzales Memorial Museum still has the cannon that started the Texas Revolution, and Baker Boys BBQ, one of Texas Monthly’s 50 best barbecue joints of 2021, is serving up charcoal-smoked specialties. Accommodations for music fans who are also fans of showers and beds range from the standard U.S. chains to the stunning white-columned Belle Oaks Inn of 1912.

Float Fest 2022 will take place Saturday, July 23 and Sunday, July 24. Check floatfest.net for updates on the lineup, venue, and other important event details.