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06 March . 2020

Beyond SXSW: More festivals to enjoy around the Austin area this spring

Austin’s world-famous SXSW festival needs no introduction, but it’s far from the only game in town this spring. Here’s our curated list of lesser known but amazingly fun festivals and ongoing events everyone in the family can enjoy this spring, without fighting the crowds. Enjoy!

Wine + Wildflower Journey, March 27 – April 12. The Hill Country surrounding Rancho Sienna is home to more than 50 wineries, and this event from Texas Hill Country Wineries invites you to sip and sample at a long list of participating wineries. Each winery has its own personality, terroir and style of winemaking, yet all share a commitment to quality, hospitality and a fervent passion for what they do. To take part, just purchase an individual or couples passport, then enjoy a full complimentary tasting at winery (limit four a day). Another perk is a 15 percent discount on 3-bottle purchases from each winery.

Hill Country Flyer Spring Events, March 14 – April 12. The Austin Steam Train Association operates this vintage train all year long, but several special events make spring a great time to discover this living museum. There are two special Spring Break excursions on March 14 and March 21. On April 11-12, the train makes a special trip to Burnet for the 37th annual Bluebonnet Festival – more on that below. Trains make round-trip excursions to and from the Cedar Park Depot.

Cedar Park Kite Festival, March 29. The 5th annual Cedar Park Kite Festival takes place on Sunday, March 29, from 3-7 p.m. at Elizabeth Milburn Park, 1901 Sun Chase Blvd. This free, family-friendly event includes food and kite vendors, face painting, raffles, surprises and more. BYOK – Bring Your Own Kite!

Cedar Park Spring Egg-Stravaganza & more events, April 5 – ongoing. Bring your own baskets to hunt for candy-filled eggs and other prizes in this annual family event, with separate areas for three age groups. Festivities include free train rides, inflatables, a petting zoo, and photos with the Easter Bunny. Visit Cedar Park’s event website for details on this and other spring events, including free movies and concerts in the park in March and April. On May 7-8, the annual Jazz & Art on Main event features live jazz, food vendors, and arts and crafts booths.

Bluebonnet Festival, April 10-12. Billed as “the most exciting small-town festival in Texas,” the 37th annual Bluebonnet Festival in Burnet draws 30,000 people a year for live music, 5K and 10K fun runs, a pet parade and a classic car show. There’s also a Demolition Derby, Rubber Ducky Races, a Weiner Dog Race, Wild West style shoot outs, and more than 150 arts and crafts vendors. There’s plenty for kids, including activities presented by The Science Mill, the Mighty Thomas Carnival, and a bicycle decorating contest. No one will go hungry with events including Burnet Kiwanis All You Can Eat Pancakes, the Masonic Lodge Fish Fry Lunch, and a food court with more than 25 vendors.

The Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas, March and ongoing. Spring brings a renewed burst of activity to historic downtown Georgetown, which boasts the Most Beautiful Town Square in Texas. Visit Georgetown’s website for a full list of events and complete details. Just a few highlights include Market Days on The Square, featuring arts and crafts, festive foods, live music and much more on the second Saturday of each month, from March through December. Every First Friday evening, you can stroll downtown after dark, with art events at the Georgetown Art Center, Williamson Museum and local galleries. There’s also live music at unique downtown shops and restaurants. Every third Saturday morning, Pistons on the Square features classic cars and motorcycles. Georgetown’s downtown Farmer’s Market is every Thursday afternoon.

Earth Day at the Wildflower Center, April 22. Flock to the Ladybird Johnson Wildflower Center to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Earth Day with citizen-science activities, nature play, special tour and a whole host of activities to show our love for Planet Earth. This free family-friendly event takes place from 9-5 on Saturday, April 22. Check out the center’s event calendar for more fun things to enjoy this spring, including Tuesday Twilights, featuring live music, tasty cocktails and tours. For the Wild Supper Club on April 10, ecologists and chefs come together to take guests on a journey from seed to plate. The popular Spring Native Plant Sale is April 17-18.

Red Poppy Festival, April 24-26. One of Georgetown’s most popular annual events, the Red Poppy Festival features live entertainment on three stages, with headliners including Mark Chesnutt and Dysfunkshun Junkshun. There’s also a classic car show, an arts and crafts show, and a cooking competition. You can get active with the Red Poppy Bike Ride and 5K Run. Kids will enjoy a coloring contest and the Kid’s Fun Zone. It all kicks off with a parade on April 25, featuring local high school marching bands, clowns, floats and pretty much the entire community. You can also enjoy a self-guided tour of Georgetown’s red poppies, especially in historic Old Town. It’s said that a young local soldier sent poppy seeds back home from Europe during World War I, and that red poppies quickly naturalized and grew all over the area for many years. Although the poppies no longer grow wild, they are lovingly cultivated by Georgetown citizens each year.

Pecan Street Festival, May 2-3. Did you know that Austin’s famous Sixth Street was originally known as Pecan Street? Now in its 43rd year, the Spring Pecan Street Festival (there’s also one in the fall) is one of the longest-running arts & crafts and music festivals in the nation. A tradition that’s 100% Austin, the festival includes a juried art show with hundreds of local and national artisans working in metal, wood, glass, stone, repurposed material and many other types of media. Nearly 50 of Austin’s top musical acts perform on three stages, and 30 food vendors will keep everyone happy. Kid-friendly activities include rides, a petting zoo, face-painting, street magicians and much more.

Whimsy & Wonder, May 16. This interactive art and music festival turns Liberty Hill’s quaint, historic Main Street into an immersive art experience. Whimsy & Wonder transforms local businesses into art galleries showcasing the work of local artists, and the street is filled with live art demonstrations, music, artisan vendors, performers, food and wine, and much more. The main event is Saturday, May 16, from 6-9 p.m., with an after-party street dance from 8-10 p.m. Admission is free for all ages.

Leander Old Town Street Festival, May 16. We don’t know why Leander and Liberty Hill didn’t coordinate to avoid having their biggest festivals on the same day, but let’s just agree to see this as “the more the better.” The Old Town Street Festival fills the streets of downtown Leander’s charming Old Town District with Texas bands, the Old Town 5K fun run, family-friendly activities, and local and national artists showcasing a variety of handmade creations. Food vendors and local wineries and breweries will add to the festive atmosphere. The main event is a concert by American country music artist Wade Hayes, starting at 6 p.m. General admission is free, with VIP stage seating available. Other musical acts include The Jazz Daddies, Matt Nestor and One Ton Country. The LC ROCKS After Party starts at 8:30.

See more things happening around Rancho Sienna with our Local Flavor Guide.