The sun isn’t the only thing heating up this summer in Austin. The live music scene is also on the rise and you can catch performances nearly anywhere throughout the city. Watch a local act on the patio of your favorite beer garden, or pack a blanket and your friends to enjoy a show at the park under the stars. The city is packed with opportunities to catch a live show, that’s why we’ve pulled together a list of some of the can’t-miss music series and festivals happening this summer. For even more ideas, see Your Complete Austin Summer Bucket List.

Wild Child Duo at The Drop In Summer Concert Series in Austin Texas
Wild Child at The Drop-In. Credit Brynn Osborn.

Annual Music Series

Inspired by Austin's love of outdoor jams, the Drop-In Summer Concert Series is bringing the tunes back to the Hartman Concert Lawn at the Long Center every Thursday, May 25 through August 10. In partnership with ACL Radio, this 12-week evening concert series inaugurates the first-ever 3D-printed outdoor pavilion and features local artists Alejandro Escovedo, JaRon Marshall & The Collective and THEBROFRESH. Bring your friends and claim your tickets in advance for this free (with RSVP) outdoor concert series. 

Rainbow on the Creek returns to Waterloo Park and Moody Amphitheater on Saturday, June 10 for its annual Pride Month Celebration. This free, family-friendly event celebrates Austin’s LGBTQIA+ community and will include performances on the Moody Amphitheater stage by Papi Siii!, Miguel St. Michael, Mama Duke, House of Lepore and an Austin Drag Showcase with Vylette Ward and friends. 

The George Washington Carver Museum will host its fourth annual Stay Black and Live Juneteenth Festival from June 12-19. This year's theme is Austin Family Reunion and is centered around local celebrations and partnerships with organizations making an impact. Attendees can expect dance parties, cookouts and live music along dynamic conversations with thought leaders, educators and public scholars.

Music in the Garden is a new summer series located at the Mabel Davis Rose Garden in the Zilker Botanical Gardens. Wander through the natural scenery as you enjoy live music from artists selected by the Austin Music Foundation. The family-friendly event is hosted every Thursday night from June 15-August 10.

Austin’s favorite summer music tradition, Blues on the Green, is back at Zilker Park on July 18-19. This annual concert series is free to the public and includes two nights of performances by some of the biggest names in local music. Remember, music starts at 7 pm!

Willie Nelson performs at 4th of July Picnic Circuit of The Americas in austin texasWillie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic. Courtesy of Circuit of The Americas.

Summer Festivals & Events

Celebrate the golden era of pop punk and emo music and bask in your nostalgia at Pop Punk’s Not Dead Fest at Buck’s Backyard in Buda. Sing along to all of your favorites with covers of Blink-182, Fall Out Boy, Sum 41 and many more on Friday, June 16.

Oblivion Access Festival (formerly Austin Terror Fest) is an annual celebration of underground music and culture that will take place June 16-18. The festival will take over some of Austin's most popular music venues in the Red River Cultural District, including Empire Control Room & Garage, Mohawk, Elysium, Valhalla, 13th Floor and more, to offer attendees performances from some of the most in-demand experimental, metal and hip-hop acts from across the globe.

The fourth annual Pride in Local Music Festival is back Saturday, June 24, celebrating local music through the rainbow heartbeat of our great music city, produced by the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The day features a block party style event on Fourth Street with performances from local artists.

There’s no better way to celebrate the red, white and blue than in Texas’ Capital City. The H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks is Austin's largest Independence Day celebration, held at Auditorium Shores. The festive evening starts at 4 pm and features patriotic songs performed by the Austin Symphony, culminating in a spectacular grand finale fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake.

Want to spend Independence Day with a true Austin music legend? Grab your friends and head out to the Q2 Stadium for Willie Nelson’s 4th of July Picnic and Fireworks. Willie will be teaming up with his closest pals to put on a star-studded day of music for this 14-city road trip, starting in Austin. This year, Willie will be joined by Tyler Childers, Dwight Yoakam, Shakey Graves, Sierra Ferrell, Asleep at the Wheel and more.

Or head out to the free Hill Country Galleria Independence Day Festival, held at the Hill Country Galleria lifestyle mall in Bee Cave. This family- and pup-friendly 4th of July celebration features live music on the outdoor Central Plaza, local art vendors, lip-smacking barbecue, fair rides and games, and fireworks.

The free Zilker Summer Musical has been a fan favorite for 60+ seasons. Bring the kiddos (and doggies, too!) to the Zilker Hillside Theatre to watch "Disney's Newsies" and spread out on a blanket on the lawn. Shows are performed Thursdays through Sundays, from July 7–August 12. No reservations required.  

Local Austin musician, Melat, performing at Hot Summer Nights.Hot Summer Nights. Credit Cody Ross Cowan.

Every Summer, the Red River Cultural District hosts Hot Summer Nights – three days (July 20-23) of free live music held at different venues throughout the area. Besides catching popular local acts, you’ll have the chance to sample scrumptious foods from local eateries.

The sixth annual Kokefest is returning to Brushy Creek Amphitheater in Hutto from August 4-5. The two-day affair is in association with country station KOKE FM and will feature headliners Whiskey Myers on Friday and Jon Pardi on Saturday, with additional appearances by Sammy Kershaw, William Clark Green, Riley Green and others. 

Austin celebrates its unofficial mascot for the 18th year on August 23 (which also happens to be peak bat migrating season) on the Congress Avenue Bridge. Bat Fest has become the biggest bat-viewing party of the year. Expect tons of live music, local food and drink, more than 50 arts and crafts vendors, children's activities and a bat costume contest (of course!).

Aerial view of patrons enjoying the courtyard and live music at Meanwhile BrewingCourtesy of Meanwhile Brewing.

Where to See Live Music for Free

Stop in the Oak Garden at Güero’s Taco Bar Wednesday-Sunday (rain or shine) for the Texas Radio Live series presented by Sun Radio. Listen to Texas singers, songwriters and musicians while you chow down on homey Mexican dishes and tip a margarita or two.

The Little Longhorn Saloon has served as the center of Austin’s honky-tonk country music scene for more than four decades. At least 10 bands perform each week, and there’s never a cover charge. The Little Longhorn is also known for its six-days-a-week happy hour, with $2.50 draft Lone Star beers.

Catch a free weekday happy hour show at The Saxon Pub, a haven for singer-songwriters since 1990. Some of the biggest names in music have performed at the intimate Saxon, including Kris Kristofferson, who likened the experience to playing in his own living room.

Whether you’re winding down, riling up, or passing through, Meanwhile Brewing is the place to grab a craft beer and listen to live music. The sprawling 3.7 acre brewery located in South Austin features an expansive beer garden, three food trucks, a turf soccer field, children's playground and live music stage making it one of the hottest southside hangouts.

Other great venues for regular, free live music include: Elephant RoomRustic Tap, Cheer Up Charlies, Scholz Garten, Maggie Mae's, Radio Coffee & Beer and more. Find a more complete list of music venues here.

For the latest music happenings in Austin, follow @MusicAustin on Instagram and Twitter!