Photo by Alison Narro

Holiday weekends call for packed schedules and these selected happenings are certain to keep you busy. Foodie festivals, outdoor films, and a plethora of live music performances are just a few ways to stay entertained in the days ahead. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, May 25

Aaron Franklin's Hot Luck Fest
Big flavors and big cooking stars collide at the return of Hot Luck Fest. The three-day event at various venues including Franklin Barbecue and Fair Market will showcase the best in barbecue and live music. The chef lineup includes Chris Bianco, Crystal Wahpepah, Mashama Bailey, Ashley Christensen, Fermín Núñez, and many more. Live shows are scheduled nightly, immediately following the foodie fun. Visit hotluckfest.com for a full schedule of events and to buy tickets.

Texas Author Series with Cari Clark: Interview with Mark Pryor
Well-known mystery novelist Mark Pryor comes to Chez Zee American Bistro for an evening of dialogue as part of the Texas Author Series programming. The England-based author is best known for his successful Hugo Marston mystery series. Stick around after the conversation to enjoy an intimate Q&A. Get tickets on Eventbrite.

Austin Parks Foundation presents Movies in the Park: Free Guy
Settle in under the stars and in the glow of the silver screen at Gustavo "Gus" L. Garcia District Park. Guests of all ages are invited to a free screening of the 2021 film starring Ryan Reynolds, Free Guy, at this Austin Parks Foundation-hosted film series. Dogs, picnics, and lawn chairs are welcome. Admission is free.

Friday, May 26

Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church presents Austin Greek Festival
Experience and celebrate Greek culture and hospitality at this family-friendly festival. Highlights of the three-day event include Greek cuisine offerings, dance performances, souvenir markets, tours of the Transfiguration Greek Orthodox Church, and live music by a band hailing from Greece. Go to austingreekfestival.com

Canopy Projects presents "Here Now" opening reception
Be among the first guests to experience the work of more than 50 artists from the East Austin community at Canopy Austin. The “Here Now” pop-up exhibition includes a range of mediums including photography, sculpture, paint, mixed media, and more. Following the opening reception, this exhibition will be on display through June 15. Admission is free and open to the public.

Saturday, May 27

Zilker Botanical Garden presents Woodland Faerie Trail Opening Day
Whimsical moments and folklore come together in the fields of the Zilker Botanical Garden. Guests to this summer trail kickoff will have the chance to participate in Scottish Country dancing, fairy story time, and activity tables for all ages. They can also learn botanical folklore and tour the Austinite-built faerie homes made in natural materials along the trail. Get more event details at zilkergarden.org.

14th Annual Lone Star Jam
Texas country music takes center stage for two days straight at Round Rock Amp. This year’s Lone Star Jam lineup features more than a dozen performers including Pat Green, Josh Abbott Band, Stoney LaRue, Bri Bagwell, and Parker Ryan. Check lonestarjam.net for ticket and schedule information.

Hot Luck Festival
Photo by Alison Narro
Indulge in equal parts food and music at Hot Luck Fest this weekend.
Photo courtesy of Texas Performing Arts

Here are the top 7 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Making plans for the days ahead just got a lot easier. From live music to celebrity comedic encounters, locals and visitors alike are sure to be entertained. Head to the races at COTA for GT World Challenge America or feast on the many flavors found at The Arboretum. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, May 18

Amplify LIVE presents "I Live Here I Give Here"
Historic Scoot Inn hosts a benefit concert in support of the philanthropic I Live Here I Give Here organization in Central Texas. Highlights include a performance by headliner and local star, Jackie Venson, plus sets by Tameca Jones and Mélat. Laurie Gallardo of KUTX 98.9FM will emcee. Go to ilivehereigivehere.org for ticket and donation information.

Friday, May 19

Kyle Fair: A Tex-travaganza
Kyles from all over the Lone Star State are invited to converge for a day of celebrating their namesake, Kyle, TX. Participating Kyles will receive a free fair T-shirt while supplies last. (Non-Kyles are more than welcome to attend, too.) The free festival includes live music, fireworks, carnival rides, a margarita contest, and a rib cook-off over the course of three days. All Kyles are encouraged to stick around on Sunday for the world’s largest same-name gathering, in another attempt to break the Guinness World Record. Go to kylefair.com for more information.

SRO Motorsports presents GT World Challenge America
Gear up for a weekend of high-octane, sports car action at the Circuit of the Americas. According to the website, Fanatec GT World Challenge America weekend highlights include a barrage of on-track racing, autograph sessions, an exclusive race grid walk, a car corral, and more. Visit showpass.com for more information and to get tickets.

The Austin Symphony presents "Eastern Winds"
Enjoy an evening of live music at The Long Center for the Performing Arts as part of the ongoing Masterworks Series. This concert features Jiebing Chen playing erhu with conductor Peter Bay, and serves as a showcase of the Far East’s musical artistry. Song selections for the program include Yasushi Akutagawa's Music for Symphony Orchestra, Chen Gang & He Zhanhao's The Butterfly Lovers Concerto, and Nikolai Rimsky-Korsakov's Scheherazade, Op. 35. Tickets can be purchased at my.austinsymphony.org.

Texas Performing Arts presents "Steve Martin and Martin Short: You Won't Believe What They Look Like Today!"
Movie stars, friends, and longtime funnymen Steve Martin and Martin Short bring their show to the Bass Concert Hall for two nights only. Audiences can expect an intimate and uniquely informal evening of storytelling, conversations, stand-up material, and musical numbers all compiled into an evening with two of the most beloved figures in show business. They’ll be joined on stage by special guests Jeff Babko and The Steep Canyon Rangers. Visit texasperformingarts.org for more information.

Saturday, May 20

A Taste of The Arboretum
Explore the many flavors that fuse together to create an iconic neighborhood and retail plaza, The Arboretum. This family-friendly foodie event will highlight a mix of specials and exclusive menu items at participating eateries. Featured specials include free Amys Ice Cream samples, complimentary peanuts for dine-in orders at Five Guys Burgers & Fries, complimentary food and wine samples from Con Olio Oils & Vinegars, and more. See a list of vendors at thearboretum.com. Admission is free and open to the public.

Women & Their Work presents "Paradise Bloom" opening reception
A selection of local women artists explore the meaning and definition of “paradise” through their work at this new Women & Their Work exhibition. The exhibition features paintings, installations, neon lighting, and photography to portray the concept of paradise from each artist’s unique perspective. Following the opening reception, the exhibit will be on display until July 6. Reception admission to the reception is free.

Steve Martin and Martin Short
Photo courtesy of Texas Performing Arts

CitySquare presents A Night to Remember featuring Steve Martin and Martin Short at Bass Concert Hall on May 19.

The Cure/Facebook

Here are the top 7 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Our signature foodie fête, a star-studded country music festival, and live performing arts productions are only a few reasons to start re-exploring the city this week. We’ve expanded our guide to feature even more local-approved events around the city that you won’t want to miss. Check out the top seven things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, May 11

Broadway in Austin: To Kill a Mockingbird
The classic and poignant literary story by Harper Lee comes to life on the stage at Bass Concert Hall. This production stars Emmy Award-winning actor Richard Thomas, who plays the small-town lawyer and protagonist, Atticus Finch. Performances are scheduled through May 14. For more information, visit broadway.com.

CultureMap Tastemaker Awards
Our annual celebration of the top bar and restaurant talent in Austin returns with equal parts flavor and fanfare. Tickets to this signature tasting event and awards ceremony grant access to bites, samples, and speciality cocktails all night long, as well as a chance to meet and mingle with the biggest names and rising stars in the local food and drink industry. Check out our Tastemaker Awards editorial series to learn more about what to expect and how to get tickets.

Friday, May 12

Texas Burlesque Festival
The iconic tease and seductive art of burlesque is on full display at Kick Butt Coffee and The Long Center for the Performing Arts. Highlights of this titillating two-day fest include appearances by Penny Starr Sr, the World Famous * BOB *, Big Mama Red, Gingersnaps, Icky Muffin and The Jigglewatts. Visit the texasburlesquefestival.com for a full schedule of events and more.

Ballet Austin presents Cinderella
The heartwarming fairy tale of an unaware princess, her glass slipper, and finding her Prince Charming comes to life through the artful movement of dance at The Long Center for the Performing Arts. This production from Stephen Mills features the skillful dancers of Ballet Austin, a compiled score from Alexander Glazunov, and live musical accompaniment. Shows are scheduled through May 14. For ticket availability, check balletaustin.org.

Saturday, May 13

iHeartCountry Festival
One of country music’s biggest nights promises a dazzling display at Moody Center. Highlight performances of this year’s highly-anticipated festival include Luke Bryan, Kane Brown, Sam Hunt, Elle King, Parker McCollum, and many more. For a full schedule of events and for ticket access, check Ticketmaster.

O. Henry Museum presents the 46th Annual O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championships
One of Texas’ oldest and most loquacious traditions takes over Hilton Austin for its 46th year of witty wordsmithing. This year’s O. Henry Museum Pun-Off World Championship theme is “Spring for Words!” and will feature timed, round-for-round competitions with participating “punslingers.” Admission is free and open to the public.

Sunday, May 14

The Cure
The Cure/Facebook

Robert Smith and The Cure will play Moody Center on May 14.

The Cure in concert
English rock band The Cure comes to Moody Center as part of their Stateside touring circuit. Fans can expect live performances of their new album, Songs of a Lost World, along with some chart-topping favorites. Seating options and availability is available on the ticketing website.

Photo courtesy of Lil Wayne

Here are the top 6 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

The city is brimming with so many can’t-miss happenings these days, we would be remiss if we didn’t make room for at least one more on our agenda. Catch award-winning rapper Lil Wayne live in concert, discover the works of several local artists within the 78704 neighborhood on a self-guided tour, or taste open-flame food offerings. Check out the top six things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, May 4

Lil Wayne in concert
Grammy award-winning rapper Lil Wayne returns to Austin in support of his national tour, Welcome To Tha Carter. He rose to hip-hop stardom at 16, and has released 14 albums in his career, while amassed a dozen hits with songs like “Bling Bling,” “A Milli,” and “Lollipop.” For ticketing availability, check stubbsaustin.com.

Maie Day x First Thursdays
South Congress Hotel hosts a lavish evening of food, spirits, and merrymaking in honor of Maie Day’s one-year anniversary. Tickets include private bar access, early entry to the hotel’s popular First Thursday festivities, and a variety of bites inspired by the Maie Day menu. Get tickets to this special night of celebration on Tock.

Friday, May 5

Council on American Islamic Relations presents its Eid Celebration
Spend the day on the Texas Capitol grounds celebrating all things Eid at this event hosted by the Austin chapter of the Council on American Islamic Relation (CAIR-TX). Highlights of the day’s programming include keynotes from community leaders and officials, Islamic art showcases, free henna designs, authentic food, and more. Eid Celebration admission is free and open to the public.

Saturday, May 6

Art04 Studio Tour
The artistic talents of residents from the 78704 neighborhoods are on display at Fireseed Clay Arts Studios this weekend. The two-day, self-guided tour to various studios is free and allows guests to explore the creative processes of local artists, discover newfound pieces, and add works to their collections. Expect a firsthand experience of the art scenes in neighborhoods including Zilker, Boudin Creek, South River City, Travis Heights, Barton Hills, South Lamar, and more. Visit the art04studiotour.com for a full list of tour stops.

Austin Gay Men’s Chorus presents Ascending Colour
Musical compositions arranged and curated by people of color and LGBTQIA+ community members fill the auditorium at First Baptist Church of Austin. This special concert seeks to uplift and celebrate transgender and BIPOC artists through the art of music. Ascending Colour will include songs from new composers and a selection from Songs of the Phoenix, a new work curated by Andrew Lippa. Tickets for both Saturday and Sunday shows are available for purchase at atxgmc.org.

Sunday, May 7

a21 presents Heritage Fire Austin
Star Hill Ranch opens its gates to foodies near and far during this afternoon of outdoor culinary exploration. The live-fire event features more than 20 local chefs and brands who will each contribute their own fare to the open-flame feast. Tickets include access to unlimited food alcoholic beverages, and live entertainment. For ticketing options and a full schedule of events, go to the heritagefiretour.com.

Lil Wayne
Photo courtesy of Lil Wayne

Lil Wayne performs at Stubb's Bar-B-Q on May 4.

Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin/Instagram

Here are the top 5 things to do in Austin this weekend

Weekend Event Guide

Flame-broiled fare, celebrity guest appearances, and lots of live music are on the agenda for the days ahead. Listen in on the insights of public radio legend Ira Glass or get groovy at Austin Psych Fest. Check out the top five things to do in Austin this weekend. For a full list of events, visit our calendar.

Thursday, April 27

Les Dames d’Escoffier presents You Grill Girl!
The return of Austin’s premiere female-focused grilling event heats up at Franklin Barbecue. Guests will get the opportunity to feast on fare crafted expertly by a group of award-winning and highly-acclaimed female chefs, pit masters, and food artisans. In addition to the many open-flame flavors, this charitable foodie event will include a silent auction and raffle prizes. Tickets are available here. Event admission for children is free.

Friday, April 28

Levitation and Resound Presents present Austin Psych Fest
The Far Out Lounge & Stage plays host to the 15th annual Austin Psych Fest. This year marks the festival’s return to its original single-location format and spring season timeframe, setting the stage for a nostalgic and quintessentially trippy experience. Performers at the three-day event include Toro Y Moi, Cuco, Yves Tumor, The Black Angels, Night Beats, Bratty, Automatic, and many more. Check out the festival site for a full schedule, ticketing information, and a complete list of musical guests.

Saturday, April 29

Austin Blues Festival
The first-ever Austin Blues Festival takes over Moody Amphitheater for a day of all things melodic and classically cool. Attendees will enjoy live performances by Los Lobos, Booker T's Stax Revue, Robert Randolph Band, and others beginning midday and continuing well into the evening. Tickets and a festival schedule can be found here.

The Paramount Theatre presents Ira Glass
Acclaimed podcast host and public radio personality Ira Glass brings his musings and iconic voice to the stage at Paramount Theatre. He’s best known as the creator of the highly-popular program This American Life and is also known for his work as an editor on other groundbreaking podcasts Serial, S-Town, and Nice White Parents. For seating availability, visit the ticketing website.

Sunday, April 30

Deep Eddy Vibe Market
Venture just outside of the city limits for a day in Dripping Springs at this vibey market hosted by Deep Eddy Vodka. Festivities of the family-friendly event will include live music, food trucks specialty Deep Eddy drinks, and a market featuring more than 30 local makers. Admission is free and open to the public.

Chefs at "You Grill Girl"
Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin/Instagram
"You Grill Girl" returns at Franklin BBQ to raise funds for Les Dames D’Escoffier Austin.
Photo courtesy of Fiesta San Antonio Commission Betsy Newman Photography

13 festive events Austin visitors must attend during Fiesta San Antonio


If you're a first-time visitor to San Antonio, chances are you don't know what Fiesta is really all about. Though the 11-day carnival is arguably the city's most cherished tradition, locals tend to keep it close to their chest. Unlike some other towns' touristy to-dos, this shindig is by locals and for locals.

Still, one must start somewhere. While there are dozens of official and unofficial events, these are some of the favorites newcomers shouldn't miss. Stock up on sunscreen and buy a new hat. It's time to party.

Fiesta Fiesta
An event so nice they named it twice; this April 20 kickoff to the season packs Travis Park with food, fun, and fireworks from 4-10 pm. Free and open to the public, this party is also dog-friendly. Here's your chance to buy a puppy guayabera.

Taste of the Republic
This year, the culinary kickoff to Fiesta will take over San Antonio's most iconic venue. Grab a cocktail, walk the Alamo grounds, and nosh on bites from more than a dozen of the city's top chefs. April 20, 6-10 pm.

A Taste of New Orleans
Jazz fills the air at this tribute to the Big Easy, help at the Sunken Darden Theater April 21-23. The menu includes iconic NOLA bites like etouffee, gumbo, boudin, and beignets. There's also some lagniappe for the kiddos courtesy of face-painting booths and clowns.

Fiesta Oyster Bake
Aw shucks! The world is your oyster at this annual foodie festival, held April 21 and 22 from 5-11 pm. Dozens of vendors take over the St. Mary's University grounds, selling every possible iteration of signature shellfish. The music ain't too shabby, either. Headliners this year include Pat Green, Color Me Badd, and Everclear.

Alamo Heights Night
Party in the '09 during this family friendly block party featuring food, rides, and live entertainment. The one-night-only engagement takes place on April 21 at the University of the Incarnate Word.

Texas Cavaliers River Parade
This floating parade has been making a splash since 1941. More than a dozen floats will dazzle spectators on April 24 from 7-9 pm.

Fiesta de Los Reyes
A multi-day tribute to San Antonio's rich Mexican heritage, this free event happens from 10am-midnight Sunday through Friday and 10 am-1 am Saturday. Each night from April 21-30 at Market Square features a bonanza of Fiesta foods and some of the nation's most popular Tejano and Conjunto acts.

A Night in Old San Antonio (NIOSA)
One of Fiesta's wildest parties, NIOSA takes over La Villita from April 25-28 to celebrate the city's diverse cultural heritage. Expect long lines and a raucous crowd — especially on Thursday's college night. And bring plenty of cash — this year, the fest did away with the wristbands.

Fiesta Cornyation
Part political lampoon, part burlesque show, this decidedly adults-only revue takes over Charline McCombs Empire Theatre April 25-27 with two shows a night at 7 pm and 10 pm.

Taste of the Northside
Though many of Fiesta's events take place in the city's core, this foodie spectacular gives North Siders a reprieve from all those high Uber fares. The April 25 event isn't cheap but provides bites from more than 25 local restaurants and endless wine and beer samples.

Battle of Flowers Parade
The grand dame of Fiesta's parades, this vivid promenade is produced exclusively by women. Tickets are required for dedicated seating, but plenty of free vantage points are throughout the route. And if you have the day off (who can work during Fiesta?), head to Bonham Exchange afterward for their legendary day party. The parade starts at 9:30 am on April 28.

King William Fair

Nestled among the breathtaking homes of the historic King William District, this street fair includes food and drink vendors, children's activities, and artisan vendors. It's even more fun for those who live in the neighborhood. Charm your way into getting an invite to one of the front-yard parties.

Fiesta Flambeau Parade
Billed as "America's largest illuminated parade," this dazzling display On April 29 is the rowdier cousin of Battle of the Flowers. Reserved seating is available, but the smart money is to park at one of the bars on the route. Margaritas definitely help with all the hooting and hollering.

Want even more ideas of how to celebrate? Check out the full list of official events here.

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Dip your toes into these 7 Austin pools with passes, snacks, and summer events

Wet Hot Austin Summer

Memorial Day is here, which means so are the days of sitting in a lounge chair and sweating while looking unreasonably fabulous. Whether it's to beat the summer heat or to show off a new swimsuit, Austinites may have more options than they think to take a swim at the many pools around town. Even if you haven't committed to an overnight stay, most hotels offer day passes, and some even offer other deals or poolside programming.

One great way to find passes not just to pools around town, but also to spas and other hotel amenities, is to browse ResortPass. (Not sponsored, just cool.) There are 26 Austin options on the site right now.

But we wanted to let you know what's going on beyond the pass — who will set you up for a great meal, who lets you drink out of a coconut, and whose views (or lack thereof) provide the best ambiance for your day off. Some of our choices aren't even on the platform.

Go grab your sandals, and save us a towel.

Greater Austin YMCA
Let's start with the less glamorous before we break out the poolside fashion. The YMCA is a family staple for a reason, and if your goal is just to get in the water regularly throughout the summer, especially with kids, it's a great place to start. There are "interactive hours" at the outdoor pools (more fun than swimming laps) at the East Communities, Hays Communities, Northwest Family, Southwest Family, and Springs Family YMCAs, as well as the YMCA at Camp Moody. The Y is semi-affordable; It would probably be cheaper to visit a hotel pool once or twice, but a Y membership includes a month of access, guest passes, and much more, and may replace your gym membership for the summer. $69 per month, with age and household discounts. austinymca.org

Hotel Van Zandt
If your pool visit doesn't include spritz and giggles, why are you even there? Hotel Van Zandt is opening up its stylish rooftop pool for the "Spritz & Giggles Poolside Happy Hour & Sunset Swim" event series. Every Monday through Thursday, visitors can enjoy $8 frozen Aperol spritzes, $8 specialty cocktails, and a special pool menu with items like a refreshing green salad, pork belly al pastor tacos, and a spicy fried chicken sandwich. Geraldine's, the main restaurant, is right inside for even better drinks, expanded bites, and sometimes live music. Starting at $48 per day for adults, $15 for kids. hotelvanzandt.com

Carpenter Hotel
If one day at the Carpenter Hotel pool is just not enough, the hotel has now added monthly passes. In addition to unlimited access to the secluded pool in the Zilker neighborhood, a pass gets a $30 discount for the new monthly BBQ Pool Parties (bringing attendance down to $25). That will include a great spread of less commonly seen barbecue items like grilled bay scallops, mushroom skewers, elotes, deviled potato salad, and more. Monthly pass holders also get to bring one child under 8 for free. $40 daily, $200 monthly. Both Monday through Thursday. carpenterhotel.com

South Congress Hotel
The South Congress Hotel is right in the middle of where many Austinites want to be on a summer day, if it weren't so dang hot. This rooftop pool solves that problem in style, with daily pool passes every day of the week, as well as cabana rentals. Café No Sé supplies poolside drinks and snacks, and downstairs, Austin's Best New Restaurant Maie Day offers a hearty meal after a day of napping in the sun. Cabanas can be rented for four people and include self-parking, bottled water, and a bottle of champagne or bucket of High Noon. Days for $40 and cabanas for $300 on weekdays; days for $75 and cabanas for $400 on weekends. southcongresshotel.com

Hotel Viata
Hotel Viata is a bit of a sleeper hotel among Austin boutiques, as it's located a little beyond West Lake Hills. Still, if you want a taste of Italy, the drive to this retreat will be worth it. Not to mention, with the extra room these downtown hotels can't offer, a pool pass includes access to a hot tub, fire pits, and great views of the hills around the city. Pool passes are available, but if you want to see it for free before you spend, wait for June 10; The hotel invites guests 21 and up to check out the pool for free at the "Summer Festa in Piscina" party, with a "Taste of Italy" add-on ($55) for Aperol Spritz, limoncello lemon drops, and negronis all day. $45 per day for adults, $25 for children. resortpass.com

Wax Myrtle's
This rooftop bar and pool is known for its never-ending events calendar, and of course that energy extends to poolside entertainment. There will be live music on the weekends, plus live DJ sets on Saturday nights, alongside whatever other programming happens to be going on inside. Even if it's a do-nothing day, these large, over-the-top drinks will give you a delicious challenge. The "Boot Scootin Fruity" mixes rum, an aperitivo, hibiscus, and lime in a cowboy hat punch bowl ($90); the luxe "Mojito 75" combines Moët & Chandon with rum and mojito must-haves in a disco ball ($230); and an unnamed cocktail is worth trying just to enjoy it from a real coconut. Starting at $15 for adults, $10 for children, and more for daybeds and cabanas. waxmyrtles.com

Austin Motel
Perhaps one of the best known pools in Austin for its retro vibes, fun events, and accessibility to on-foot wanderers is the Austin Motel. This is a great, less expensive choice that's probably more fun for casual pool revelers who would feel a little put out by having to dress up and behave in a more luxe hotel setting. There are also frequent poolside events at this motel, like the free "Bounce Motel" series with live DJs, or the body-positive "Chunky Dunk." The pool is offers daily passes every day, even when there's nothing on the calendar. $25 on weekdays, $45 on weekends, or $600 in three-and-a-half-month "waves." austinmotel.com

Carpenter Hotel pool

Photo by Andrea Calo

Austinites don't need to stay at a hotel to be invited to the pool. (Pictured: The Carpenter Hotel)

6 Austin museums are offering free admission for military families all summer long

spread the museum love

Half a dozen Austin museums are honoring active-duty military personnel and their families with free admission through the Blue Star Museums initiative, May 20 through September 4, 2023.

Established by the National Endowment for the Arts, Blue Star Families, and the U.S. Department of Defense, the Blue Star Museums program annually provides military families free access to 2,000 museums nationwide throughout the summer. The program begins yearly on Armed Forces Day in May and ends on Labor Day.

Free admission is extended to personnel currently serving in the U.S Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps, Coast Guard (including those in the Reserve), and all National Guardsman. Members of the U.S. Public Health Commissioned Corps and NOAA Commissioned Corps are also included in the program.

Those who qualify can use their military ID to bring up to five family members – including relatives of those currently deployed. More information about qualifications can be found here.

There is no limit on the number of participating museums that qualifying families may visit. Admission for non-active military veterans, however, is not included.

According to the National Endowment for the Arts website, the initiative was created to help "improve the quality of life for active duty military families" with a specific focus on children. The site states two million have had a parent deployed since 2001.

"Blue Star Museums was created to show support for military families who have faced multiple deployments and the challenges of reintegration," the website says. "This program offers these families a chance to visit museums this summer when many will have limited resources and limited time to be together."

Among Austin's participating museums, the Blanton Museum of Art recently held its grand opening celebration to debut their new grounds, complete with a new large mural by Cuban-American artist Carmen Herrera.

“As a museum that has long been at the forefront of collecting work by artists of Latin American descent, as well as the place where Ellsworth Kelly realized his last great work of art, entering the collection at this moment marks a high point in my long career," Herrera said.

Here's a look at all the museums in Austin that participate in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

For those looking to take a drive around Central Texas, the Temple Railroad and Heritage Museum and Taylor's Moody Museum are also participants in the Blue Star Museums initiative.

More information about Blue Star Museums and a full list of participants can be found on arts.gov.

Awe-inspiring new exhibit debuts at the Alamo with sneak peek


Ask first-time visitors about their experience at the Alamo, and you're likely to hear a frequent refrain. Guests accustomed to hearing about the mission's heroic history are surprised that the grounds are so small. But that's slowly changing with ambitious plans to bring the site's original footprint back to life.

Starting May 25, visitors will get a sneak peek at the complex's newest structure, the Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit, before it officially opens in 2024. Funded in part by a $3 million donation from the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation, the exhibition gives guests a broader understanding of the Alamo's scale.

The historical recreation was crafted by lauded San Antonio artist Carlos Cortés. A third-generation concrete faux bois artisan, his work is featured throughout the city, most notably on the River Walk, where his fantastical The Grotto greets thousands of Museum Reach visitors each year.

The life-size sculpture stands in for the original main gate of the fort at the southern boundary of the complex. Cannons and placards scattered throughout give crucial context to the structure. Though early renderings show the beams and spiked fence with more verisimilitude, the forms currently stand in ghostly concrete — inviting quiet contemplation.

When the exhibit is finished next year, guests will be more fully immersed in the hallowed grounds, which extend far beyond the walls of the iconic Church and Long Barrack. Coupled with the upcoming Alamo Visitor Center and Museum and the recently debuted Ralston Family Collections Center, it will turn the grounds into one of Texas' most awe-inspiring historical sites.

"We are deeply grateful to the Joan and Herb Kelleher Charitable Foundation for their support of the Alamo and our ongoing efforts to preserve this important piece of Texas history," said Dr. Kate Rogers, Executive Director of the Alamo Trust, Inc., via a release. "Their generosity will allow us to continue to educate and inspire visitors from around the world, ensuring that the legacy of the Alamo lives on for generations to come."

Alamo Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit

Photo courtesy of the Alamo.

The Mission Gate and Lunette exhibit gives visitors an understanding of the original ground's scale.