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15 best free spring events that make us proud to call Austin home
Spring is in the air, bringing with it a number of events that prove you don’t have to break the bank to take in all the fun this city has to offer. From markets to concerts to festivals, there’s something for everyone to enjoy. Take full advantage of the season by checking out some of these happenings that make us proud to call Austin home.
UT Public Star Parties— Wednesdays through May 2
Having an institution like the University of Texas at Austin in our city means having the opportunity to attend a number of unique educational events. One such opportunity are the weekly star parties hosted by the school’s astronomy department on the roof of Robert Lee Moore Hall. Students and nonstudents alike are welcome to come out for the public viewings from 8:30-10:30 pm.
Thursday Night Social Rides— Thursday evenings
Avid cyclists pepper the city’s streets and Social Cycling Austin brings them together with different themed rides throughout the week. One of the most popular is the Thursday Night Social Ride, a casual, easy-paced tour around town that eventually ends at a bar. Check Facebook for upcoming events, and remember to bring your lights and locks!
Community First! Village Community Cinema— April 20, 27, and 28; and May 4, 11, 18, and 25
Austin’s spirit of service and community is exemplified in Community First! Village, an innovative, 27-acre planned development designed to provide housing and empowerment for the chronically homeless in Central Texas. At their outdoor cinema and amphitheater, they host film screenings for the public as a joint effort between Mobile Loaves & Fishes and Alamo Drafthouse. While the event is free, concession sales do help the residents earn a dignified income. Before the show, you’re welcome to explore the area, which includes gardens, walking trails, and a prayer labyrinth.
Earth Day ATX— April 21
Our city is an eco-friendly one, and what better reason to celebrate green initiatives than Earth Day. Earth Day ATX is the largest sustainability event in Central Texas, and takes places on the Huston-Tillotson University campus. Stop by between noon and 7 pm to learn about conservation and sustainability through engaging exhibits, activities, and talks. There will also be live music, food trucks, an outdoor activity area, and a kids zone.
Texas Military Department Open House— April 21-22
Many Austinites have driven down MoPac past this military installation, but have never stepped foot on the grounds. Campy Mabry's open house offers the perfect opportunity to visit and get a close-up look at the Texas Military Forces. Running from 8 am-5 pm, the schedule throughout the weekend includes helicopter, parachute, and weapons demonstrations; historic reenactments; displays; and more.
Austin Flea— April 21-22 and 28-29; and May 5, 12-13, 29-20, and 26-27
At Austin Flea, it’s all about handmade, vintage, and local goods. The market pops up in different places around the city, including coffee shops, breweries, and restaurants. With its wide-ranging selection of goods — from jewelry to bath and beauty products to artwork — it makes for the ideal spot to find that special gift (or to simply support Austin’s talented artisans and vendors).
Eeyore’s Birthday— April 28
If ever there was an event that embodied the “Keep Austin Weird” slogan, it would be the iconic Eeyore’s Birthday. Venture out to Pease Park for this day-long celebration featuring free spirited folk and creatives from all walks of life. Here you’ll find drum circles, maypoles, games, face painting, and so much more. Attendees are invited to wear costumes, and letting your freak flag fly is highly encouraged.
Austin Short Short Fiction Festival— April 29
Love literature? You might want to pencil in the Austin Short Short Fiction Festival at the Elisabet Ney Museum. At the event, local authors will be reading their short — and we do mean short — fiction pieces aloud. Literary booths, food vendors, and family-friendly activities will also be present.
Violet Crown Festival — May 5
Amid its many nicknames, Austin is also known as the City of the Violet Crown, and the Violet Crown Festival at Brentwood Park celebrates and showcases the local music, arts, and foods that make this city so special. Performers this year include a ukulele group and a mariachi band. Come out to this family-friendly event to support the local community.
Spring Pecan Street Festival— May 5-6
Twice a year, Sixth Street is taken over by the Pecan Street Festival where hundreds of local and national artisans showcase their handiwork. Besides all of the arts and crafts on display and for sale, visitors can see live music, grab delicious bites, and catch other activities like rides and a petting zoo.
Beer Yoga at Jackalope— May 6
Does doing yoga, drinking beer, and helping out a good cause sound like your perfect Sunday morning? If so, head over to The Jackalope South Shore at 11 am for a free, hour-long yoga class followed by drinks from Bells Brewery. Instead of a fee, they simply ask for a nonperishable food donation to help benefit the Central Texas Food Bank.
Laissez Fair Spring Market — May 6
If you’re into all things vintage, swing by Laissez Fair’s spring market in the Space 24 Twenty courtyard in the bustling UT campus area. There will be over 20 vendors selling women's and men's clothing and accessories, as well as home goods. And for some additional fun, there are plans for tarot readings, temporary tattoos, and a DJ set.
Movies in the Park — May 10 at 8:45 pm and May 17 at 8:45 pm
The Austin Parks Foundation has teamed up with the Alamo Drafthouse to bring outdoor film screenings to parks all across town. Coming up: Emperor’s New Groove at Dick Nichols Park and Coco at Dove Springs Park. Don’t forget to pack a lawn chair, some blankets, and a picnic so you can get real comfy for your night spent under the stars.
West Austin Studio Tour— May 12-13 and May 19-20
The city’s art scene comes alive during the two weekends of West Austin Studio Tour, also known as WEST. Since this is a self-guided experience, you can go at your own pace and plot out your personal itinerary from the various featured galleries and studios where you’ll be able to check out local artists and their work.
Band of the Hills 20th Anniversary Concert— May 20
There’s so much more to Austin being the Live Musical Capital of the World than just hosting ACL and SXSW. Take Band of the Hills for example — a community band made up of diverse individuals of all ages bonded by their love of making music. You can often spot them at events around Cedar Park and Leander, and they’re celebrating their 20th anniversary this year with a 3 pm concert at Vista Ridge High School.