ACL Talk

Here's what's new (and improved) at Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016

Here's what's new (and improved) at Austin City Limits Music Fest 2016

ACL Austin City Limits Music Festival 2016 autograph wall
Here's what's new at ACL Fest 2016. Photo by Daniel Cavazos

The 15th edition of Austin City Limits Music Festival comes with many improvements and welcome additions, all adding up to a more enjoyable experience. During the first weekend, festivalgoers raved about upgrades, including the new layout of the grounds.

Here's what you have to look forward to during weekend two, running October 7-9 at Zilker Park:

This year, organizers opened up the park to create more space. Conveniently located between the HomeAway and Samsung stages, the southeast area that previously housed off-limits sections is now integrated into the festival grounds. This offers a place to relax away from the crowds in a backyard party kind of vibe, where fans 21 and up can enjoy playing foosball, cornhole, old-school arcade games at the Miller Lite Game Hall, and win swag at the Tito’s Plinko Parlor. There are shaded picnic tables for chilling out and powerful misting fans to mitigate the heat.

This area is also home to Wine Down, ACL's brand-new wine bar, which features sustainably farmed vino from Hope Family Wines, including Treana; Austin Hope (thanks for the rosé, Austin!); and Troublemaker labels. Other amenities in this section of the park include one of four CamelBak Hydration Stations providing free water throughout the park and one of the two Bodegas run by People’s Pharmacy, where festivalgoers can purchase sundries. On Friday, graffiti artists painted murals that are now available for auction.

Families with little ones are thrilled with the new Austin Kiddie Limits area next door, which has lots of shade and even more fun things for the kiddos to do, including a hip-hop workshop, a punk hairdo station, and the most adorable drum circle ever. Plus, ACL Fest's youngest fans and their parents can enter directly through the new family-friendly entrance located between the Barton Springs entrance and Robert E. Lee Road.

Folks are thrilled with the six improved restroom facilities, featuring environmentally friendly, flushable toilets for men and women behind privacy fencing. No more port-o-lets with long lines cutting into the festival flow. And, speaking of flow, the often maligned Rock Island Stage is now the Cirrus Logic Stage, relocated for much better crowd flow and sound quality. Fans can now use Rock Island as a meeting point or as a shady hangout between sets.

The Barton Springs Beer Hall has expanded into the area formerly occupied by Austin Kiddie Limits and is now closer to the Miller Lite Stage. There are two jumbo screens tuned to the most important games of the weekend so sports fans don’t have to miss the action. The beer selection includes lots of IPAs but also a refreshing gose-style brew from Sierra Nevada, aptly named Otra Vez, and local favorites from Real Ale Brewing.

Organizers have wisely added a large shade structure and picnic tables in front of ACL Eats to make mealtime more enjoyable. The ACL Festival Store is now an indoor, air-conditioned shopping experience where fans can browse the racks for 15th anniversary merchandise. The Waterloo Records store and artist signing tent are right next door.

At the Samsung Lounge, Galaxy device owners can take a break in comfy surrounds while listening to artists performing at the Samsung Stage. Libations, chef-prepared snacks, and cool Galaxy swag are available, as are demos of their latest technology — don’t miss the virtual reality roller coaster ride!

Last but not least, Platinum ticket holders are enjoying some extra perks. Since the VIP Grove has relocated to the southeast end of Zilker Park next to Austin Kiddie Limits, they can skip the line at the main gates and enter through a dedicated entrance on Barton Springs with direct access to the Platinum Lounge. Platinum ticket holders enjoy daily lunch and dinner prepared by celebrity chefs and wine tastings from the Austin Hope Wine Collection. Other perks include complimentary lockers with phone charging, exclusive viewing areas at main stages, golf cart rides between stages, massages by Viva Day Spa, and more.