Get Planning for ACL 2014!

As I sat around the dinner table at a friend's house yesterday, we vented about the back-to-school stress that hovers over us like a dark cloud this time of year. As fall approaches, so do complicated schedules and to do lists, homework, projects, PTA committees, and weekends full of soccer games, commitments and the attempt to find just a few hours of down time. But as my mama friends and I rattled off our lists of events that will fill the next few months, one thing stood out like a bright ray of sunshine, like a mini-vacay, like a celebration in the near future: Austin City Limits!

It's coming up SO soon! But besides the general excitement about it swirling in the back of my head, I haven't taken any time at all to start thinking about the festival. Since it's still over a month away, it's really not too late to plan to take advantage of this awesome event here in our own hometown. After about six weeks of school is underway, won't ACL feel like a well-deserved moment of "me" time? (Yes!) So if you're like me and just now starting to think about this, here's my basic to do list for ACL Festival planning...

1. Buy tickets.
Did you know that weekend passes have been SOLD OUT for a while now? It's true. BUT the good news is that you can still get single day tickets for Friday or Sunday on either weekend. (Both Saturdays are sold out.) So get on it while you can! Check out ticket info and pricing here.

2. Coordinate with friends.
If you're like me and you want to plan the weekend with the ultimate festival buddy, it's time to invite your pals. (In fact, I'm going to get offline in a moment and call up my college bestie to see if I can talk her into joining me for a fun weekend of music and catching up.) But perhaps you want to go with a friend and order tickets together to ensure you can buy them for the same day. Perhaps you're planning to go with your whole Mom's Night Out group and want to coordinate babysitters together. No matter, it's good to start thinking and planning ahead if you're hoping to experience ACL with a friend.


3. Get a babysitter. 
If you're planning to take the kids to Austin Kiddie Limits, please by all means do it! In fact, on this blog we are going to walk you through all the steps to help you prepare for a great time if you bring the little ones along! (I promise, we'll do that for you.) But the Kiddie Limits stage does close early (4:30pm). So if you plan to take the kids home and jet back for the headlining acts at night, you're going to need someone to watch the kiddos. So, don't wait until all your favorite sitters are booked. Get on it now. Or start making your list of backups or friends you can call in for favors.

4. Study the schedule.
We still have a little time on this, right? But if you thought you'd see both Beck AND Outcast perform on Friday night only to learn that they are playing at the same time, that could be a big bummer. It's best to think way in advance about your priority lineup. Here's the full schedule.

5. Catch up on playlists.
Does your friend talk endlessly about how much she loves the Head and the Heart but you're still not sure what they sing? Was the last Interpol album you listened to "Turn on the Bright Lights" from 2002? No fear. There is a lot of time to catch up and do some listening. Sometimes it's fun to just go to a show not knowing any of the songs, but sometimes it's good to at least know if you like the band's sound ahead of time. We'll help you out on this here on the blog. Check back soon for playlists!


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ACL With the Toddler Set


Picture an outdoor concert spanning multiple football fields, packed with hipster music fans (who may or may not be intoxicated), soaking up the live music screaming out of multiple stages. Now picture bringing you precious children into this scene. Sounds crazy, right?

As I grabbed my twin three-year-old girls’ hands before we launched ourselves across that field, I wondered if I was, in fact, crazy. But once we made it across the field intact, we found ourselves in the safe space that is Austin Kiddie Limits at the Austin City Limits Music Festival. Only in Austin would they remember to include children in the fine art of live music appreciation.

When the sun burned off the rain clouds that Saturday of the second weekend of ACL, it rose to a muggy 90 degrees. We found our way to the kids’ outdoor stage and settled in under the shade of an umbrella, which I was grateful I had thrown in the bag at the last minute. The girls enjoyed The Ohmies, Wiggles-like performers who sing and dance in costume. I wished we had made it in time for one of the adult-child crossover artists, but c’est la vie with kids.

Then the girls dove into the Abrakadoodle art station, where the helpful guides showed them how to use a matchbox car and a marble dipped in paint to create swirls of lines inside a shoe box. Their pieces got smeared while rolled up in my backpack, but it’s the experience that counts, right?

One of my daughters spotted a girl with pink hair, and that was all I heard about until we found the Rock Star Hairdos makeover booth (put on by Avant SalonStudioSpa). Once her hair was styled and sprayed pink, she adopted a punk-rock attitude–complete with tongue sticking out while posing–that I’ve never seen in her before.

They poked their colorful heads in at the School of Rock instrument petting zoo next door, where you could play drums or electric guitar, but it was too loud for my crew. There was also a music class going on, but with all the heat, noise and people, my girls didn’t have the attention span to join in (same experience with DrumZone’s percussion corner).

To complete their rock and roll look, we stood in a long line in the blazing sun waiting for a music note to be spray-painted on each of their arms. My suggestion to ACL for next year: bring more shade, or more tattoo artists. (I wish there had been physical activities for the kids to do while the parents patiently held the spot in line. I ended up promising snow cones to keep my kids by my side.) Luckily, the Rosetta Stone photo booth was right next door, so we got a great picture taken to memorialize the day.


Another thing on my wish list: food and drink within Kiddie Limits. We had free lemonade thanks to Alex’s Lemonade Stand, but the food vendors were located outside the kiddie fence. It may not have seemed too far for an adult to walk when they set it up; next year I’ll lend them my kids’ sweaty hands so they can see how long it would take to push through that crowd with hot, hungry, tired preschoolers.

If you’re going to Austin Kiddie Limits 2014, don’t forget to bring: sunscreen and/or hats, a foldable umbrella or two and a stroller. I didn’t bring a stroller because we don’t use one much anymore, but it would have made all the difference crossing that field.


Feed them well before you go or get food at the vendors before you enter Kiddie Limits. If your children get easily overwhelmed by crowds or loud noises, consider going when it first opens and leaving early. And don’t miss my girls’ favorite part–-taking a ride through the city in a pedicab.

Next year, let’s all agree to meet at the entrance and form a parents/kids’ conga line across the field. We’ll beat those hipsters yet.

Virginia Woodruff founded the website Great Moments in Parenting, where parents share the agony and the ecstasy of life with kids. She lives in Austin, TX with her husband and three kids.

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Austin Kiddie Limits Feature: School of Rock


 *This article originally appeared on LiveMom.com.


We're thrilled to be covering the Austin City Limits Music Festival (ACL) again this year. Whether you are going Weekend One, Weekend Two, with or without kids, we want to be your go-to source for the Festival. We've listened to all the bands and have picked the ones we think you should have on your schedule. Are you ready for some great music?!



Founded in Philadelphia in 1998, the School of Rock now has 105 schools in cities around the world, including Austin. The curriculum emphasizes the roles of performance and collaboration in developing musical talent. Students pick an instrument (or, more than one), take private music lessons taught by local musicians and participate in group rehearsals, with the idea that when they are ready, students will take to the stage.

The Austin School of Rock opened its doors in a warehouse in Pflugerville in 2004 and now makes its home at Northcross Mall. About 160 kids between 6 and 18 years old currently participate in School of Rock programs, including their newest program for preschoolers, Little Wing (which will be at Austin Kiddie Limits during ACL). Show seasons are 12 weeks long. Students begin with Rock 101, where they have a chance to learn a few classic rock and roll tunes in a group setting. The experience is largely customized to meet the needs and interests of each student. The Austin School of Rock also has an adult program which meets on Monday nights, after the kids' lessons are over.

Colleen Bell, the School of Rock's Regional Manager, says the biggest change she sees in kids who attend School of Rock is in their confidence. "It changes the way a child walks. It changes the look on their face. Not just when they are in the school, but when they are talking to their friends". The camaraderie among the musicians is also a huge benefit, according to Colleen. "Having a community outside of school that you always have something in common with, always have something to talk about, is really reassuring, especially to teenagers."

For the sixth year, the Austin School of Rock has been invited to perform at ACL. Colleen explained that the 11 students performing at the Festival are part of the School's B Team, a select group which is chosen by audition twice a year. These musicians perform together 2-3 times a month at music festivals and other gigs in the area. We had the chance to sit down with three members of the B Team on the first day of ACL to talk about why they enjoy performing, who they want to see at the Festival and what it's like to grow up in the Live Music Capitol of the World.

You can catch The School of Rock on Friday October 11th from 11:30-11:55pm and Sunday, October 13th from 4:05-4:30pm, all on the Kiddie Limits Stage.



school of rock logo
The three members of the School of Rock's B Team we interviewed, all who are 17 years old, are Rozie Castoe, bass, who attends New Hope High School; Alanna Malcom, vocals, who attends Georgetown High School and Bryce Martinez, guitar, who goes to Vandegrift High School.

LiveMom: How long have you been making music?

Bryce: I started playing guitar when I was about 11, about a year before I decided to come to the School of Rock. I’ve been playing ever since, so, about 6 years.

Alanna: I’ve always sang, but I didn’t start playing guitar until I joined the School of Rock.

Rozie: I started playing drums when I was 10 and bass when I was 11.

LiveMom: Who are your musical influences?

Rozie: John Paul Jones from Ledd Zepplin. He is an extreme influence on me.

Alanna: I would probably say Janis Joplin. She has an amazing voice - really different. I’ve always looked to her as inspiration when it came to singing.

Bryce: To avoid sounding like a cliche, Gary Moore is one of my favorite guitar players. I absolutely love his playing. It’s so soulful and he doesn’t just try to shove every note into every solo he plays, so he’s an inspiration.

LiveMom: Who are you looking forward to seeing perform at ACL?

Bryce: I’m so excited to see Portugal the Man here. I love every album they have made and I haven’t gone to see them yet.

Alanna: Queens of the Stone Age is really good live and they put on a good performance, so I'm excited to see them.

Rozie: I’m excited to see some of the older bands, Depeche Mode and the Cure. My musical tastes tend to be stuck back in the 70s and the 80s.

LiveMom: What do you like about performing?

Alanna: I just like playing. It’s something that’s always come naturally for me. It was natural, but there was still so much that I had to learn. Every time I feel like I play, you kind of learn something. It’s nice playing with people like them (points to other kids) because they are really good people to play with. They always teach you something.

Rozie: For me, the stage is something almost like a second home. I feel really, really comfortable up there. I feel like I can really come out of my shell, and be a completely different person than I am in everyday life. Playing music is what I love to do more than anything. It is my relaxation. It is something I have passions and drives for. It is me. It’s everything that defines me and everything that I do.

Bryce: Playing in a group is so much more beneficial than just playing by yourself. There's a huge difference between playing by yourself in your room and then being on stage with a group of other musicians. It helps you grow in ways that you wouldn't if you were just playing in your room to your favorite songs.

LiveMom: What do you think is different about being a musician in the Live Music Capitol of the World?

Rozie: Being able to just be around so much music is such an influence because literally we can go out any single night of the week and see a band. That really keeps you on your toes because it keeps you involved in what's popular in the area -- what people are liking -- if you really want to make something out of it, what types of stuff you should be going for.
But it's also an inspiration. I'll go to shows and I'll see people playing and I think, I don't want to be here. I don't want to be in the crowd. I want to be up there playing. So having that musical element has really made me a better musician and made me want it a whole lot more.

LiveMom: How do you feel like your musical style has evolved?

Bryce: One of the things I like about School of Rock is that before I came here I would listen to all the same classic rock bands that every kid guitar player wants to listen to, like Jimi Hendrix and AC/DC. So I was kind of pigeonholed into that. But then you come here, and there people from everywhere. There's so many different kids here that listen to so many different bands and the teachers all have their own unique bands -- there's teachers playing metal, there's teachers playing country, there's teachers playing indie. So you get a melting pot of all these musical tastes. So, you start to want to listen to those and you start to want to play those. Coming here has made me get out of where I was stuck, and it did help me start writing my own stuff and find myself, I guess.

Rozie: As a person, the School of Rock has really helped me socialize, because it's an afterschool program and a lot of my friends are not at school, but at School of Rock. I have to say that School of Rock really helps pretty much everyone make a huge group of friends and especially for us, being on the B team our show team we're almost like a family because we spend so much time together.

Alanna: A lot of the people that are on there have been on there forever, so we've known each other for a long time.
It's clear that these kids are incredibly talented and poised, but we'll just have to wait to see where they go next!

For updates, follow the School of Rock on their website, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.

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ACL Music Festival Weekend One Wrapup


*This post originally appeared on LiveMom.com.

We listened to over 24 bands over the course of three days, took over 100 photos (including some interesting fashion choices that we just couldn't resist capturing) and ate our way through the day and night to harness enough energy to get us home safely to our beds. Now we might need until SXSW to recover. Here is our take on our favorite bands, food options and a few tips to make next weekend's festival rock your socks off:

Hangin' with our buds and AKL veterans The Q Brothers by their Hip Hop Workshop booth.

Friday, October 11th

Friday was the least crowded, and so it was a good day to bring a toddler for a few hours. He enjoyed Austin Kiddie Limits from the comfort of his stroller, walked around a bit on the way to the Bud Light stage and conked out for the remainder of the time, before meeting up with his dad at the Austin High pickup/dropoff area. Although it can be hard to navigate the gates and other narrow areas with the stroller, being able to stash a lot of gear, blankets and water bottles in the bottom was really nice.

Thao & The Get Down Stay Down is a highlight of the Bud Light stage. The band stood out as a great way to ease into the first afternoon of the festival with laid back, yet upbeat songs. Frontwoman Thao did a nice job of engaging the crowd.

We caught a few songs of Fun., whose music is very well-suited for ACL. Admittedly, it is much easier to sing along to "We Are Young" at the top of your lungs when you are alone, in your car, when you aren't surrounded by twenty-somethings, but it was still...fun.

Local Natives' surf-infused rock and dreamlike melodies gets the crowd moving at the Samsung Galaxy stage in the late afternoon.

Kaskade makes for excellent people watching, even if it's just a guy on stage spinning. We grabbed a beer and sat along the fence on one of the walkways, which led to a nice view of dancing patrons. The crowd was super high energy, which was more than we could say for ourselves in the early evening.

Depeche Mode headlines on Friday night. I admit, even being a fan, that the show was a little weird. There is no denying that this performance has a high entertainment value and they played a mix of their new and old songs, which made the crowd very happy. What was weird? Well, if you are into seeing Dave Gahan grind the microphone pole while grabbing his junk, you will be very pleased at this performance. Honestly, I was in awe as he is about a decade older than me and has an insane amount of energy to carry him through 1½ hours of performing.

We discovered Instagram this weekend...and that you can take some great photos while you are waiting for someone to use the restroom.

Saturday, October 12th

We eagerly anticipated the cold front moving in, to cool things off, and quickly joined the ranks of those huddled in blankets and jackets by the end of the Cure's set. We arrived a little later, so we would still have some energy left to join our ticket winners at the Discover Great Music Lounge after the festival shut down for the night.

Passion Pit does not disappoint. It was loud, great sound. Definitely don't miss this one!

Kendrick Lamar is definitely not family-friendly music. If you still have your little ones with you at this point of the festival, move as far out of earshot as possible. Tip: When Kendrick instructs you to wave your hands in the air like you just don't care, make sure the beer can that you are holding in one of your hands does not spill onto the person in front of you. Wave one hand, gently move the other. Much safer that way. For the record, he did not tell us in so many words to wave our hands in the air like we just don't care. I think he said put one hand up. Now put the other hand up. But since I was one of the oldest women in the crowd, that's what I heard in my head...cause I am a product of the 80s and 90s.

Headlining Saturday's show, The Cure nearly brought me to tears. They sounded just like they did 17 years ago! Seriously, I made Nicole go off to the porta-potty by herself because I could not force myself to leave. But then a half an hour later, I also had to make a trip to the wonderful porta-potty so I should have just stuck with my buddy. Tip: If you find yourself having to leave the show mid-way through for a bathroom break, exit the crowd and head to the right as the porta-potties there seemed to be less crowded. Also, the crowd thinned out at that time so I was able to grab a spot right up at the front of the stage.

Nahiba was one of the performers at the Discover Great Music Lounge afterparty on Saturday night.
Sunday, October 13th

Nicole hit the festival early on, and Catherine brought her toddler and 6-year-old for a few hours in the afternoon to enjoy the last day of ACL. I'm not sure whether it was the lineup, the cooler weather or the fact that it was the last day, but it was packed early on. Even with the showers overnight, the grass was only wet in a few spots, so sandals turned out being fine.

Courrier was a band we interviewed earlier in the week, so Nicole was looking forward to catching their set. Getting to Zilker early certainly has its privileges, as there are still front row spots available midway through. For those of you attending the second weekend, this might be a spoiler alert, but it also shows how much fun the band was having and how infectious their music is.

MS MR was another band we interviewed prior to the festival. I wasn't sure how their sound would translate to a huge outdoor festival, but Lizzy Plapinger's Florence-like vocals and the energy of Max Hershenow were well-received by the crowd.

Lone Bellow was another artist on the Austin Ventures stage that really engages the crowd. The harmonies that lead singer Zach Williams, Kanene Pipkin and Brian Elmquist meld perfectly with their folksy rock. Their songs are simply magnetic.

I thought The National would be too low key for me for a festival, but their set includes a nice mix of songs I had heard before, plus some new stuff.

Note: Although we were bummed we missed their sets, we're glad we can catch these local bands we interviewed outside of the festival: Dana Falconberry, School of Rock, Barton Hills Choir, Grace London and the Peterson Brothers Band. You also might want to check out our profiles of Play Date and The Q Brothers.

What to eat:
For a late night snack, the Second Bar + Kitchen Truffled Pomme Frites were tasty. Nicely salted with a side of mayo was just perfect as we left the festival on Saturday.

Also, the empanadas from mmmpanadas were delicious. Flaky crust and well seasoned filling pleased both mom and tot. I got the Argentinean beef, Nicole had the Green Chile Chicken, but there are veggie options as well.

Coolhaus was a win-lose with Nicole pleased with her late night sweet treat while Catherine's left a little something to be desired. On Sunday, Catherine went back in with her two kids to give it another try. Really, it was tough to believe that two cookies paired with a scoop of ice cream in between could be wrong so it HAD to be tried again. Sure enough, the chocolate chip cookies with vanilla bean ice cream won her over. Tip: Get a spoon and a handful of napkins as this can be quite messy. There were no spoons or napkins out at our first visit so we had to ask. They were better stocked up by Sunday with napkins, spoons and little cardboard containers to catch the drips.
What ACL does to a toddler (and, come to think of it, we felt the same way).

Reminders (because we are moms, after all!):
  • We posted the 411 on ACL, in case you missed it earlier.
  • Don't forget to apply (and re-apply) sunscreen. Don't just apply to your kids and not yourself. Zilker always seemed warmer than the forecast and both of us ended up a little rosy by the end of the weekend.
  • Refill, refill. The CamelBak water filling stations were a feature we both took advantage of this time around, and we were happy to use them. This time, two one-liter bottles seemed like a lot to carry, so we had one frozen each day, which was nice to have and refill. If you choose to bring a reusable water bottle, just keep in mind it has to be empty upon entry, so if you bring a frozen bottle you will have something colder to enjoy once you are there.
  • Wear comfortable shoes. This seems so obvious, but Nicole set out to find some fashionable footwear on Thursday and was regretting her choice by Friday afternoon. Even after the rain fell on Saturday, Sunday was navigable in flip flops (yes, contoured and road-tested Chacos, but still...)
  • Bring a lightweight poncho. These can fit into a small backpack and provide you with something to sit on in case the ground is damp. I was happy to have it when the cold front moved in, so it doubled as a jacket.
  • Come equipped. This is what we were glad to have with us: packets of Wet Ones wipes to use before and after meals, ibuprofen in case of headaches, band aids (they don't take up any space and you may need them!), lip balm, sunscreen, sunglasses, a bandana to wipe off sweat, pocket-sized Kleenexes for when the portable toilets run out of toilet paper and ear protection (for adults and kids).
  • Charge, charge. We are so accustomed to messing with our phones all the time that batteries run out quickly at ACL. There are charging stations, but who wants to spend time at ACL sitting around, missing out on music? Texting seemed to work better this year, but try to resist the urge to check your phone unless you need to. Do your homework beforehand so that you don't need to use the ACL app to decide which bands to see, and instead rely on the paper maps handed out at the entrance (don't worry if you lose it -- you can get a new one the next day).
Lastly, Kiddie Limits is a haven for all the little ones who also want to enjoy Austin City Limits Music Festival with mom and dad. While Friday was relatively less crowded than Saturday and Sunday, it can still get a bit squished in there. Tag your kid in case they get lost. The Tag a Kid booth is right at the front on your left-hand side as you enter the Kiddie Limits area. Tip: My daughter gets easily overwhelmed with large crowds, but we found the giant sandbox (directly behind the Q Brothers Hip Hop booth) to be a quiet reprieve from the people and noise. It is also shaded and has a handful of chairs for parents in case you don't want to sit in the sand.

Did we see every single band we wanted? No (Dan Croll, Haim, Dawes, among others. Sigh). Were we disappointed with any sets? Sure (Foxygen, I'm looking at you...although the mom in me is just worried, I'll admit). But all in all, it was a great festival. How else could we have the chance to see so many bands in just a few days, remember what it was like to see music before we were mamas and fit in some of the best people watching while we were at it?

What were your impressions? Do you have a favorite new band now? Any disappointments?
Obligatory photo outside of the Barton Springs gate.
 Authors: Catherine Prystup and Nicole Basham can be found writing and adventuring on LiveMom.com

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Ride Capital Metro to ACL Music Festival


Ready to rock the second weekend of ACL 2013? Capital Metro can get you there.

Ride the official, FREE Austin City Limits Music Festival shuttle, loading up at Republic Square Park at 5th and Guadalupe, with direct service to and from Zilker Park.

The shuttles will run approximately 10 a.m. - 11:00 p.m. each day. The last bus leaves Republic Square for the festival at 8 p.m. The last returning bus back to Republic Square heads out about an hour after the last band leaves the stage each night.

Plan your trip to Republic Square.

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ACL Festival Parent Survival Guide

Raquel is a homeschooler, work-at-home mom and all around crafty broad. She has blogged about her adventures in Austin since moving here in 2005 and loves exploring Austin fun with her 5-year-old son. Find her at http://www.homegirlblog.com

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If you are a parent, and you scored tickets to the Austin City Limits Festival, be cool and take your kids. It's free for kids 10 and under and, with Austin Kiddie Limits tucked away in the corner, it really is a separate little festival just for them. Festival organizers have gone out of their way to make this festival fun for families, so take advantage of it!

When it comes to whole family enjoyment at the festival, here is our breakdown of how to share the time. A 3-day pass translates into one morning/afternoon at Austin Kiddie Limits, one whole day split between Austin Kiddie Limits and the ACL stages, and one afternoon/evening for adults only. That way the whole family gets a fair amount of fun and entertainment as well as a fresh crop of crowd pleasing stories to tell around the water-cooler or on the playground about that one time at ACL fest...

A successful ACL Festival weekend with kids is impossible without serious planning. My tips are proven effective whether yours are factory model kids or kids tricked out with few bonus features including a kinetically charged engine, slow response breaks and a highly sensitive anti-food system. The festival has done it's part by being as family friendly as possible. Here are a few awesome tips to help you do your part by having a kick-ass time.

What To Pack

  1. Empty reusable plastic water bottles (or two factory sealed ones). Free water refilling stations are all around the park. Let your kids hold the bottle while volunteers fill 'em up--never a dull, dehydrated moment at ACL. I have seen young people with camel-backs on, but would bet money that it wasn't water they were sipping through those wrap-around straws.
  2. MomGyver (or DadGyver) Travel-size Kit.
    Stuff the following items into a gallon-sized zip lock bag and you're ready for anything:
    - Chewing gum
    - First Aid kit
    - Sunscreen
    - Antibacterial wipes
    - Insect repellant wipes
    - Cortizone
    - Kleenex
    - DIY porta potty for boys (see #10) 
  3. Your kid's favorite book. What? Yep. The paper kind. Mainly if you plan to split your time between Kiddie Limits and the main stages. All the sights, sounds and smells at the festival can be overwhelming to a normal adult human. By the time we're adults, we learn how to cope with all the stimulation overload by smoking, drinking, becoming bitchy, or taking ourselves home. Kids, on the other hand will either go to sleep or straight-up melt down and make everyone miserable. Books calm their brains in ways Angry Birds does not. I carry an illustrated book of Hot Wheels with feature descriptions with me everywhere. Comic books and graphic novels are awesome choices as well.
  4. Small camera and extra memory card just in case. Cameras with detachable lenses are banned, so leave your fancy DSLR at home. You don't want to depend on your cell phone because you don't want to run out of charge. Use cells for Instagram, but not for all your photos. I learned first hand that event volunteers are very nice young people who are happy to let you use their cell phone to call your husband to work out logistics within the park, but don't put yourself in that position.
  5. Handheld mister fan. ACL Festival happens in October, which is still summertime-hot in Austin. Mister fans are great for a bit of distracting amusement for the kiddos and for keeping cool.
  6. Festival bag. Limit your load to one small backpack (large backpacks are prohibited) or cross-body bag big enough to hold all the items listed above with room leftover for any items you might pick up at the festival. 
  7. Sun hats. There is no shortage of tented areas in Austin Kiddie Limits, but if you plan to make the rounds to the stages with your kids, sun hats are just a good idea.
  8. Stroller. If you have a kid under the age of 7, consider a stroller. You know your kid. If you're one of those lucky parents who has a child who generally goes with the flow and never complains, you might survive without a stroller. If your 5 year old is anything like mine and has mastered the fine art of whining and trying to convince you that his legs are about to fall off and that he is parched beyond re-hydration and seconds away from melting from the direct sunlight,  you might be glad you have a stroller to banish him to. Our BOB stroller holds kids up to 70lbs, is narrow enough to navigate crowds and, with the top cover down, is an ideal place for a quick nap. One time we stayed at the festival until night to see Stevie Wonder's closing performance and we were all glad I brought that stroller. 
  9. A blanket. Use it to sit on. Have a picnic. Use it to cover the stroller at nap time. Use it for time-out. You might even use it as a pee tent (see #10). A blanket at a festival is never a bad idea. 
  10. DIY porta potty. For parents of big boys. Stuff a gallon-sized zip lock bag full of Bounty paper towels. Put the stuffed zip lock bag into a plastic grocery bag. Bounty paper towels are the most absorbent and when you get stuck outside of Austin Kiddie Limits and are too far away from the porta potties, you'll be glad you have your own. Find an off-the-path spot, use the blanket and yourself as a privacy screen while he does his business in the bag. Zip the bag, tie it up in the grocery bag and find the nearest trash can to discard it. If anyone gives you a bad eye, screw them. One time...well two times...last year, the only thing that saved my son from wetting himself in line outside The Louvre in Paris and in the middle of The Prado in Madrid was an empty water bottle. The first time we had fortunate proximity to litter. The second time, we had unlucky proximity to the public restrooms. Both times, we did not have a blanket, and I didn't give rat booty if anybody had a problem with it. At ACL festival, you want your empty water bottles for actual water, so trust me on the DIY porta potty. You're welcome.
Bonus Things--If your kid has allergies: Letter from doctor, list of allergies, prescription (bonus if on EpiPen box), Benadryl and snacks. At ACL, outside food is prohibited, but event staff aren't heartless. You've spent at least $225 to attend ACL and they get that you're not trying to scam them to bring $10 worth of snacks in for your kid. ACL Festival provides a great list of food vendors and their event menus for the weekend, so study the offerings so you have an idea of what you can actually buy there. It helps to minimize how much food you have to bring yourself, particularly if you plan to be there through a couple of mealtimes.

Want to see pics from our first time at the festival in 2001? Click HERE.

There you have it. Are any of your must-haves missing from the list?

Enjoy the festival!

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