Austin City Limits for Music Fans of All Ages (Kids Included)

Moms, dads, grandparents, and godparents: Are you looking for a special occasion to dedicate to some one-on-one bonding time with your kid? Check out our series of hip happenings that will give the two of you secrets to share and a ritual to return to year after year.

The Texan capital of Austin has long been known as a haven for the oddball, offbeat, and eclectic amid the stoic cowboys of the Texan desert. But the city’s biggest claim to fame comes in the form of the indelible music program: Austin City Limits, a long-running PBS series known for promoting great Texan (and now, American) music.

Got an oddball kid who sits alone in their room playing the guitar? Maybe they just make weird electronic sounds on the computer that ricochet off the barn doors and make the horses cry. In either case, maybe it’s time to get your kid-out-of-water away from their own melancholy and into the goofy music town of Austin!

Take a Texan trek to outer Austin and witness a live taping of the longest running music show on American television – if you can win the ticket lottery. Not willing to take that gamble? Plan to attend the Austin City Limits Music Festival (Oct 6-9, Oct 14-16, 2017) to see some of the same live bands and embrace the real Austin experience.

The Music Revolution will Be Televised

It’s tricky getting into a taping at The Moody Theater, an intimate venue in which the tapings take place. Check the schedule for your kid’s favorite band and keep an eye out for them if they’re not on the schedule yet.

A week before your desired taping, head to the website to sign up for the random ticket drawing. Entering multiple times does not improve your chances, as repeat entries get deleted before winners are picked. If your number is picked, you’ll get an email a few days before the show.

At this point, you should hightail it over to Austin, because it’s all about early arrival. Book a nearby hotel to stake out the joint, if you can. The W Austin, across the street from the Moody Theater, is a great place to chill out, get connected to Austin, and maybe even catch the bandmates.

On the day of the show, print out the email’s tickets and follow the instructions and timetable for lining up outside the venue. Band guests, donors, and journalists will be in a separate line, so make sure to follow the signs to the “ACLTV Winners” line and get there early to ensure entry.

Inside the venue is a strict no phone zone, so keep those devices pocketed once the band starts and check out the PBS broadcast to relive the experience.

Can’t get a ticket to an Austin City Limits taping? Try Austin City Limits Live to buy seats at a show in The Moody that’s not being filmed for posterity. It’s a more “regular” concert-going experience, but the small venue, with less than 3,000 seats, is still a pretty good spot to catch a great band.

Music in the City

Got a younger music lover who might not be quite cut out for a nighttime show in an intimate venue? The Austin City Limits Music Festival, a three-day extravaganza (choose from two different weekends) in early October, might be just the ticket to groove with your kid at Austin’s Zilker Park.

Order up your tickets from the website well in advance of the festival. You can get a three-day pass or just a single-day if you’re worried about utter exhaustion. Check the lineup to see who’s playing. You will receive a wristband in the mail, which you will need to put on in order to access the festival. Kids 10 and under get in free with a wrist-banded adult; if they’re 11 and over they will have to pay full price.

Got a teenager in tow? Hand over that schedule and follow the program. Let your kid explore, choose shows, and initiate you to a world of new music, food trucks, and a community of fans. The festival also supports a host of charities to get music fans and artists involved in giving. Make sure you and your teen check out the charities and find your own way to help.

The under-10 set might prefer the festival zone called Austin Kiddie Limits, an area with youth bands, an art area, music lessons, punk hair stylists, mural painting, karaoke, a kiddie tattoo parlor, and more. It’s everything you need to get your kid into the rock & roll lifestyle (except the heroin).

Be sure to visit the Tag-a-Kid booth, where the staff will take down your kid’s address, give her a numbered wristband and catalogue her for future reference (or in case of separation from you, that is).

A Haven for the Weird

If you’ve got a musical kid with an eye on outer space and an ear to country, folk, jazz, rockabilly, or other American sounds, a trip to the Austin City Limits is definitely in the cards. Put your dancing shoes on and get into the groove!

Will you attend a music festival with the kids this year? Share some of your most memorable bonding experiences with us!

Cover image by Nick Simonite

Tags : hip happenings   music festivals   austin city limits   

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