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 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 26 through August 11. With select nights programmed by Black Fret, bring your friends and claim your tickets in advance for this free outdoor concert 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 from June 5 to August 28, bring a lawn chair or blanket and kick back under the stars, listening to classical music while soaking in city skyline views. Bring your whole crew—admission is free to all.
Rainbow on the Creek returns to Waterloo Park and Moody Amphitheater on Saturday, June 11 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 DJ Chorizo Funk, RuPaul’s Drag Race’s Roxxxy Andrews and Latin Grammy nominee Gina Chavez.
Austin’s favorite summer music tradition, Blues on the Green, is back at Zilker Park on June 14-15 and July 19-20. 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!
Waterloo Park has also teamed up with LOLA (Local Opera for Local Artists) to present Outside Voices, featuring new music and panel discussions from local opera singers on June 26 and July 10.
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 July 7-July 28.
Willie Nelson's 4th of July Picnic. Courtesy of Circuit of The Americas.
Summer Festivals & Events
The traveling electronic music festival Camp Nowhere will make its way to the Germania Insurance Amphitheater on Friday, June 10 with musical appearances by chart-topping international star Porter Robinson and multi-instrumentalist and Femme House co-founder LP Giobbi. In addition to music, concert-goers can expect an array of art installations and activities.
The third annual Pride in Local Music Festival is back Saturday, June 25, celebrating local music through the rainbow heartbeat of our great music city, produced by the Austin LGBT Chamber of Commerce. The day features musical performances from local artists on the lawn at Long Center for the Performing Arts.
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, Brothers Osborne, Midland, Charley Crockett, Allison Russell, Particle Kid, Steve Earle & the Dukes, 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 8–August 13. No reservations required.
Combine two of Austin’s favorite activities, tubing and live music, and you get the one-of-a-kind experience that is Float Fest. Located just an hour outside Austin in Gonzales, TX, festival goers can float the Guadalupe River in the morning then rock out to a diverse selection of artists on two stages with no overlap. The music, tubing and camping festival will span over two days from July 23-24.
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. Native Texans Bowling For Soup will be headlining the event so you know you’re in for a full day and night of 2000’s pop punk partying on Saturday, July 30.
Hot Summer Nights. Credit Cody Ross Cowan.
Every Summer, the Red River Cultural District hosts Hot Summer Nights – three days (August 4-6) 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 fifth-annual Kokefest is returning to Brushy Creek Amphitheater in Hutto from August 5-6. The two-day affair is in association with country station KOKE FM and will feature headliners Clint Black on Friday and Turnpike Troubadours on Saturday, with additional appearances by Aaron Watson, Robert Earl Keen, American Aquarium, Jamie Lin Wilson and others.
Austin celebrates its unofficial mascot for the 17th year on August 27, 2022 (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!).
Austin Summer Carnival is a colorful and culture enriching experience. Head to The Venue ATX on August 27 for a samba dance party celebrating African heritage and Brazilian, Latin and Caribbean music with DJs, guest musicians and plenty of spectacular costumes.
Courtesy 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 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 Room, Rustic Tap, Cheer Up Charlies, Scholz Garten, Maggie Mae's, Radio Coffee & Beer and more. Find a more complete list of music venues here.