Why Austin, Texas Should Be Your Next Music Getaway
Alexa, play “Old town road “ by Lil Nas x Billy Ray Cyrus
Known for being one of the world’s most famous music hubs, Austin, Texas has an unrivalled music scene, with legends like Janis Joplin, Gary Clarke Jnr. and countless other icons coming from the area.
When you think of Texas you might envision deserts, cowboy boots and country music (don’t get us wrong, there’s plenty of that), and with iconic festivals such as Austin City Limits and SXSW taking place there every year, Austin’s slogan of ‘live music capital of the world’ can’t be questioned. But within this thriving scene, there’s so much more to be discovered.
We travelled to Austin to experience it firsthand and find out why Texas truly is one of the world’s most dynamic and ever-evolving music destinations.
Unleash your inner cowboy at a dive bar
Let’s start at the bottom: the dive bars and ‘honky tonks’ (AKA ‘drinking dens’) of Austin. This is the sticky carpet end of the entertainment spectrum but it’s a great way to experience live music every night of the week and the true spirit of Austin.
We went to The White Horse, a classic dive bar attracting all sorts and all ages: from cowboy hat-wearing locals to tourists. This place is long established in the community, popular with locals for its high energy as a live country music venue. Everyone dances the two-step at some stage, no matter how uncoordinated you are. They even offer free lessons Tuesdays to Saturdays at 7-8pm!
The White Horse also offers a taco trailer, photo booth, pool tables and it’s the only place we’ve seen that offers whiskey on tap. Why would we ever leave?
Buckle up for brunch
Sunday Brunch is a big deal in Austin, and with it being the heart of Texas it, of course, comes with live music on the side. The brunch scene is real and you won’t struggle finding a place to go (just make sure you book ahead to avoid being disappointed).
We went to Stubb’s Gospel Brunch which (unsurprisingly) had gospel music to accompany their renowned menu: a fantastic buffet of barbeque soul food featuring southern-style grits, migas, fried catfish, and their famous brisket. They even have a ‘make your own’ Bloody Mary bar. If vodka-infused tomato juice isn’t your thing, you can treat yourself to a frosty Margarita, another of their specialities.
Experience the beauty of drag in a whole new way
Austin’s LGBTQ+ inclusivity is putting its name on the map. With a Drag scene that’s bustling with the hottest events including brunches, Drag cabaret, and even Drag shows from stars fresh off Ru Paul’s Drag Race, it’s clear that it’s a city with a thriving queer culture, and it’s an open invitation to anyone who wants to join.
In celebration of Cinco de Mayo, an all Latinx cast of queens put on a show we’ll never forget. With handmade crafts on sale all made by women of colour, and DJ Chorizo Funk making an appearance to keep the party pumping all day long with his cumbia beats, it truly was an event like no other. There’s truly no better combination than Drag and brunch. Don’t forget to tip them!
Festivals are a real ‘thang’ here. Texans reckon Austin rivals Nashville as the live music capital of the world. All year long the city hosts some of the biggest musical and cultural events in the US and if you time it right, you’re in for a real treat.
In March there’s South by Southwest (SXSW), which offers a mix of upcoming music, independent films, and innovative technologies. SXSW’s music festival is reputed to be the largest of its kind in the world, with literally thousands of acts performing in more than 100 live music venues across Austin. This is a truly unique experience, offering up the best emerging acts in music today.
Big fan of pop culture? Not only can you catch advanced screenings of the latest films, you can find the likes of Netflix and Hulu showcasing their upcoming must-see shows, and engage yourself in some amazing immersive activations.
Austin City Limits (aka ACL Fest) arrives in Austin's Zilker Park in October each year. Over 130 bands take to eight stages in one small public park to entertain nearly half a million people over two full weekends. It brings country, pop and rock fans together from all over the world - with Cardi B, Billie Eilish and Mumford & Sons taking the stage this year. This is one iconic festival we are definitely looking forward to.
“Keep Austin weird” is the slogan adopted by many local residents, and what better way to fully embrace that by attending Bat Fest. Bat Fest showcases the 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats that take flight from underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge at dusk accompanied by live music. With over 20 acts, two stages and tens of thousands of attendees, you can experience everything from bat costume contests to bat-themed food and crafts. If you can’t get to the festival, head to the area from Spring to Autumn, when a screeching cloud of bats emerge from under the bridge looking for food each night.
This is just the start - there’s so much more to Texas’ state capital for those seeking other kinds of adventure in this great city. If you’re looking for more inspiration, check out www.austintexas.org & www.visittheusa.co.uk/music
You should go, or as they say in Austin: ‘ya’ll come here now’.
MTV Travel stayed at... Hilton Austin; For more information, visit: https://www3.hilton.com/en/hotels/texas/hilton-austin-AUSCVHH/ MTV Travelled with... British Airways. Flights from London Heathrow into Minneapolis and returning from Austin from GBP 541.52 return. BA does not serve Minneapolis directly, travel is via Chicago onward with American Airlines. For further information, please visit www.britishairways.com