Austin is known for its diverse live music scene that proudly celebrates homegrown talent. And you can catch performances nearly anywhere in town, from an intimate shady patio to a huge concert in a city park. We’ve pulled together suggestions for some of the can’t-miss music series and festivals this summer. For even more ideas, see Your Complete Austin Summer Bucket List.
Wild Child at The Drop-In. Credit Brynn Osborn.
Annual Music Series
Classical music lovers won’t want to miss Austin Symphony Concerts in the Park, held on the lawn of Hartman Concert Park at the Long Center. On Sunday evenings, bring a lawn chair or blanket and kick back under the stars, listening to classical music while soaking in city skyline views.
The new Drop-In Summer Concert Series features a performance every Thursday, through September 9, on the lawn at the Long Center. Claim your tickets in advance for the free outdoor concert series.
Prefer to stay in? The Long Center is also hosting a livestream series, Good Vibes Only, a series of free performances recorded in the Rollins Studio Theatre on Wednesdays through August 18. This digital streaming series evokes the groovy feel of a 1960’s variety show while featuring curated performances by Austin artists on the rise.
The highly-anticipated Waterloo Park and Moody Amphitheater will open to the public in August 2021. The park plans to kick off the summer with a bang, with an Opening Season Concert Series from September - November. Park-goers can enjoy free live music at the outdoor theater during monthly intimate performances.
Head to Cedar Park's Haute Spot (just northwest of Austin) to experience the Love & Lightstream Concert Series. What started as a virtual concert series, turned drive-in music performances, has now evolved into weekly shows (5-6 days a week) featuring local and traveling artists.
Head down to the Southpark Meadows shopping center for a weekly concert series, every Saturday night from June 5 to July 30. Dance to your favorite local bands at The Grove and grab a bite to eat at one of the area's restaurants with special deals for summer concert goers.
JMBLYA. Credit Greg Noire.
Summer Festivals & Events
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 features patriotic songs performed by the Austin Symphony, culminating in a spectacular grand finale fireworks display over Lady Bird Lake.
Grab your friends and head out to the Austin360 Amphitheater at Circuit of The Americas for Willie Nelson’s Outlaw Music Festival. 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 Chris Stapleton, Nathaniel Rateliff & The Night Sweats, Lucinda Williams, Yola 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.
Every Summer, the Red River Cultural District hosts Hot Summer Nights – four days 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 free Zilker Summer Musical has been a fan favorite for 60+ seasons. Bring the kiddos (and doggies, too!) to the pavilion at Hill Country Galleria to watch "Little Shop of Horrors" and spread out on a blanket on the lawn. Shows are performed Thursdays through Sundays, from July 9–August 14. Reserve online in advance.
Austin celebrates its unofficial mascot for the 16th year on August, 28, 2021 (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!).
JMBLYA, a one day, traveling festival makes its stop in Austin on September 5, 2021. The festival showcases some of the most sought-after talent in hip-hop music. The annual Pecan Street Festival also returns live and in-person this year, from September 18-19, 2021. The bi-annual local arts and music festival takes place on Historic Sixth Street.
Other exciting festivals and events this summer include the Austin Taco & Margarita Festival (July 24), Blended Festival (September 10-11) and ILLFest (September 17-19). More events.
Texas Radio Live at Guero's Oak Garden.
Where to See Live Music for Free
Stop in the Oak Garden at Güero’s Taco Bar on Wednesdays (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 $1 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.
Located in nearby Dripping Springs, Treaty Oak Distilling produces gin and bourbon at its state-of-the-art distillery/ranch. Head out on a Saturday afternoon to see live bands, take a tour, play yard games, do a tasting at the Cocktail Lab, and grab a gourmet bite from the on-site Alice’s Restaurant.
Other great venues for regular, free live music include: Meanwhile Brewing, Rustic Tap, Cheer Up Charlies, Scholz Garten, Maggie Mae's, Sam's Town Point and more. Find a more complete list of music venues here.