Festival Reflections: How to Do ACL Like An Austinite

Austin City Limits, more commonly known as ACL, is a music festival held every October in Austin, Texas (my hometown). I've been going to ACL since I was 14, and I can truly say that I have learned my way around a music festival and can definitely share some tips on how to make the most out of your festival experience, regardless of which festival you will be attending. In the following list I've combined the most practical (and fashionable) ways to be stress-free and prepared for anything, thus able to let your hippie-soul free. 


What to wear:

Top - I'd recommend a crop top or something that you won't be too hot or constricting. It can be pretty warm at ACL, so something with weather in mind is important. Mesh shirts (like the one I'm wearing above) are also very in right now! Pair a see-through shirt with a cute bralette and you're good to go.

Bottoms - My go-to is a pair of ripped denim or bottom shorts. Check out these.

Shoes - Wear comfy shoes that you don't mind getting dirty or stepped on. I'd recommend some sneakers or casual booties.

Hair - I love doing a couple French braids to get my hair out of my face, and bringing a hair tie because crowds are HOT. You're definitely going to want to get your hair off of your shoulders.

Accessories - As far as jewelry goes, I'd recommend a cute choker or something that isn't too expensive, just in case it falls off or breaks while you're dancing in a big crowd.


What to bring:

As of 2018, the only bags allowed at ACL (and many other music festivals) are fanny packs, drawstring backpacks and Camelbaks. I'd recommend getting a water-filled backpack like this, and adding whatever stickers or pins you love! It also has a mouthpiece that you can sip out of whenever you need, rather than elbowing people next to you every time you need to get a water bottle out of your bag.


My festival essentials:

1. Sunscreen - Standing in the sun for hours on end can definitely take a toll on your skin – make sure to lather up on sunscreen and bring some to reapply at least twice during the day!

2. Sunglasses - Make sure to bring some cute and inexpensive sunglasses to protect your eyes and show off your awesome style!

3. ChapStick - Nothing is worse than dry lips and no one around to help you out! Prepare for dryness by sticking a little ChapStick in your bag. Trust me – you'll be so thankful that you have it!

4. Portable Charger - This is one of my absolute necessities. Battery power at festivals goes fast – don't let a "low battery" sign ruin a video or prevent you from taking tons of cute pictures with your friends! Be prepared by packing extra battery pack & cord.

5. Hand Sanitizer - You might not think to bring this, but it's very useful! Festivals have all sorts of communal things, and they are likely to run out of hand sanitizer outside of porta-potties and food areas. Make sure to be prepared with your own little package, and prevent getting sick.


A Few Other Tips:

1) Eat Before – the food at music festivals is ridiculously expensive, and the lines are normally extremely long. Skip them by eating a big nutritious meal beforehand.

2) Drink LOTS of water – even if you don't feel thirsty, you're going to be sweating a lot, and your body needs water. Heat fatigue is all too common at music festivals, and having to take a stop by the medical tent can really put a damper on your day. Prevent this by filling up your CamelBak or empty water bottles as soon as you get to the festival, and refilling them throughout the day.

3) Make Friends  – you might be back-to-back with a bunch of strangers, or waiting for eight-plus hours for a single artist with the same five people. Regardless of your crowd situation, I recommend that you make friends with the people around you. Odds are they're going to be just as fed up with the heat as you are, and you will have another person to talk to while you wait for the next artist to come on!

4) Walk Around – I find one of the most amazing parts of music festivals to be the atmosphere; tons of strangers, all in one place, brought together by good music. Walking around to people watch and listening to random bands is such a mood-booster, and it can really expand your music taste if you happen to stumble upon a group that you never would have listened to otherwise!

5) Download the app – festival lineups can get a little confusing, and it's a hassle to try to find where and when your favorite artists are playing by going on the website every time. By downloading the app, you can scroll through the lineup easily and build your own custom schedule based off of the artists that you want to see!


And that's all there is to it! Outdoor music festivals are really what you make of them. Use these tips, don't forget to drink water, and festival on!


All images via Piper Kopser