Hosting the annual South by Southwest music industry love-in - as well as umpteen lesser known music fests - Austin has become known as the 'Live Music Capital of the World'. On any given night you can hear live rockabilly, punk, ska, country or jazz at local clubs.
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What To Do
With 50 mi of trails in the city, bicycling is a big favorite with many Austinites, and the nature trails of Zilker Nature Preserve are also popular. Rock climbing in the Hill Country is another area attraction, and there's one of those sceney climbing gyms downtown to practice in.
Austin hosts a helluva lot of hoedowns every year, most of them musical. Kicking off the season is South by Southwest (SXSW), an internationally renowned music, film and multimedia conference that packs the city - and its every venue - in March. A couple of events are free, but for most you'll need a music badge, and even then entry is subject to capacity controls.
Also in March is local good ol' boy Jerry Jeff Walker's Birthday Celebration, featuring three days of dancing and rodeos and a Saturday night serenade by JJ himself. Soon after, the Old Settlers Bluegrass & Acoustic Music Festival and the Downtown Conjunto Festival get the city's toes tapping again to more traditional beats. Austin City Limits music festival takes over Zilker Park Woodstock-style for three days in September.
Apart from the mostly-music festivals, Austin celebrates itself and its culture with several major events both whimsical and sincere. Spamarama in late March/ early April honors the oft-maligned tinned meat, while the real stuff takes the spotlight in the Austin-Travis County Livestock Show & Rodeo - the BBQ competition is not to be missed. Concurrently, the Texas Hill Food and Wine Festival gets gastronomic guts a-rumble until early April. In mid-May, Cinco de Mayo is celebrated con mucho gusto at Fiesta Gardens. The 4th of July is celebrated as the Freedom Festival in Austin, with live music, lots of food and a rocking fireworks display in Zilker Park.
Halloween ushers in a mad block party along 6th St, though the next day's Día de los Muertos celebrations are a whole lot spookier. There's a big-deal Thanksgiving Day football game between UT and Texas A&M, as well as the standard slew of Christmas-season revelries.