Our friends at LiveMom have been covering the Austin City Limits Music Festival for years. We’re thankful for their help providing great tips for parents attending the fest, including this post below.

Family Time vs. Grown-up Time

Obviously, if you have your kids at the Festival with you, you can’t expect you will get to see every single band you’d like to. Most of the parents I connected with did some form of divide and conquer:


Photo from the ACL Fest Facebook page, credit: Dave Mead

  • Spend time at Austin Kiddie Limits. We go straight to the fun hairdo station, and all three of my kids have loved being part of the drum circle and playing the guitars each year we have gone to ACL. If you don’t arrive at Zilker until later, remember that AKL closes at 4:30pm so make sure to head straight there. – Coni Stogner
  • Spread out. We usually swing by Austin Kiddie Limits, enjoy some of the freebies and activities, but then venture out to the bigger acts. We always bring a few blankets to spread out, some balls, frisbees and bubbles. We don’t worry about getting too close to the big stages — having room to spread out and play is more fun for the kids. – Kirsten Brunner
  • Kids can play while adults rock. My friends gather all the kids together in a centralized location and parents can take turns splitting up to see the bands they want to see. – Michelle Mattalino
  • Make a home base. We usually set up camp at one of the main stages and then we can explore the festival without all of our gear and chairs. We use a deep sea fishing pole with a feather boa and helium balloon on top to mark our spot. The deep sea fishing pole is extra long but collapses into a nice short length that can be carried around. – Kirsten Brunner
  • Do your homework. Take a look at the lineup and decide which stage has most of the bands you would like to see. ACL’s gotten too big to expect to move across Zilker many times each day. Then make a home base near that stage and take turns with your partner if you want to get closer. – Coni Stogner
  • Hang during the day and hand off at night. I know parents that have babysitters pick up their kids at 6pm and take them home, so they can stay late and have adult time. I love that compromise! – Michelle Mattalino
  • Divide and conquer. My husband and I get 3-day passes but we never take our kids for the entire three days. We usually choose one or two days to take them, and line up babysitters for the rest of the time. We don’t take them for the entire day, especially if it’s too hot. We typically aim to get there when the gates open, let the kids play and hang out til they get grumpy, then my husband will help me get them back to the car and I will go home for the day. I usually choose at least one day for the kids to stay home with a sitter and I go and enjoy. – Kirsten Brunner
  • Arrange a kid swap. It might be too late for this year, but many parents switch weekends with other parents. One parent will go one weekend and the other family keeps the kids that weekend. Then, they switch. That way everyone gets to go but the kids can stay home and have a slumber party. – Michelle Mattalino

You might also want to check out:

Austin City Limits Festival Parent Survival Guide
With everything from what to put in your MomGyver bag to DIY port-a-potties, here’s pretty much every detail. This is a must-read if you’re heading to Zilker one of the next two weekends.

Getting to ACL
Taking the bus, parking, Cap Metro? What’s your plan? Read these tips first.

What to Bring to ACL
Stroller, sunscreen, hats — what do you need? You don’t wan to pack like you’re going away on a weekend vacation, but you don’t want to show up with regrets that you forgot something important. Here’s some great advice on what to pack.


Many thanks to Nicole Basham for sharing this post from LiveMom. You can keep up with LiveMom’s coverage of this year’s festival on their blog and over on Facebook, Twitter, their ACL 2014 Pinterest page and Instagram.