ACL on the Cheap

Austin City Limits on the cheap: Tips for saving money at the fest

Austin City Limits on the cheap: Tips for saving money at the fest

Austin City Limits Festival
Austin City Limits on the cheap. Austin City Limits Festival/Facebook

You forgot to volunteer to pick up cans and all those early passes sold out. Don’t worry, you’re not going to have to take a loan out in order to have fun at Austin City Limits Music Fest this weekend. There are ways, my friends. 

Before you go

  • Use your social media. Your posts on Facebook or Twitter may lead to a sweet ticket offer when someone's brother/mother/girlfriend suddenly backs out.
  • Endless Craigslist searching is a drag and ain't nobody got time for that. Create an account (free) and set up an email alert for your desired tickets/price. For more tech savvy folks, try IFTTT for SMS alerts.
  • Have patience, pet. People often don’t have the stamina for rounds two and three. Start scoping out discounted tickets after day one of the festival.
  • There are always sketchy characters willing to sell you a pass outside the fest, usually at a discounted rate. The trade-off is that you could get scammed.
  • If there’s just one band you’d like to see, consider attending an ACL after show instead.  
Free or cheap transportation 
  • First time Uber users can use this code: ACLFEST for up to $30 off, but beware the surge in pricing. First time Lyft users can use this code: atxsale512 for $25.
  • There’s a free shuttle from Republic Square. The shuttle starts at 10 am and runs until 11 pm. Details can be found here.
  • Take Cap Metro bus and/or rail. There's a guide on their website, and you can download this app for easy planning.
  • Take the Lady Bird Hike and Bike Trail for a quick walk from downtown. Extra lighting is provided for your safety at night.
  • Ask a really nice friend or hire a Taskrabbit to pick you up and drop you off at the north end of the Mopac Pedestrian Bridge on Stephen F. Austin Drive next to Austin High School. It's the closest place you can get to the park.
Pack provisions
Editor's note: ACL allows two factory-sealed water bottles and no other food or beverage. However, suppose for a second that you were interested in getting some other things into the festival; this could be how you would do it.
  • Smuggle flasks of your adult beverage in clothing, under blankets, in your wearable wine-rack. Mix it with water/flavoring in your CamelBak for an instant hands free drinking dance party!
  • Not all fest food is created equal. Scope out your neighbors' purchases for the biggest value and portion size, and check out this handy list for can't-miss bites and prices.
  • Pack snacks. Bra beef jerky and KIND Bars might be a little warmer than you’d like, but they've got the right price.
  • Reminder: Don’t take anything you’re not prepared to lose. Buy a $2 plastic flask for your booze instead of your family heirloom. 
Smart money tips
  • Bring cash. ATM lines and fees can be outrageous. Be reasonable about what you can afford. Limiting yourself to $15 just means you’ll end up borrowing money. If you can't afford it, don't put yourself in that situation.
  • Consider value. The fancy food offering from the restaurant you've been "meaning to try" is going to be pricier and less fresh than what you'd get at the actual brick-and-mortar.
  • Scope out the free stuff. Water is free (bonus!) but there are lots of spots that have samples early on in the day. Snag those and laugh all the way to the front row. 
  • Don’t stand in lines. Consider your time as a cost. Those brisket nachos are not worth the hour wait. Choose the cheap corn dog instead and get back into the dance pit.