Austin’s unbeatable entertainment is a bonus for many UT Austin students. “There’s always something to do,” says Dauphine Sizer, a rhetoric and writing major, about the popular Austin City Limits Music Festival that spans two weekends each fall. “I loved ACL because I got to see most of my favorite bands at once… My friends from [other schools] are always jealous of all the concerts I go to.”
For a lot of students, the convenience of so many famous bands in their backyard can’t be beat. “My friends drove 7 hours to get here, but I only had to drive 15 minutes,” says Mark Kritzer, a junior American studies major from Houston, Texas. “Being able to go to concerts on Sunday and still having time to rest before class on Monday is awesome.”
While many students love the energy of Austin, some students can feel intimidated when they first move to such a large city. Caleb Parker, a junior environmental sciences major from Rio Vista, Texas, says, “I’m from a really small town, so I was nervous about coming to Austin.” He says it took a while for him to get out of his comfort zone, “but after going to festivals and other local stuff I really feel at home in Austin.”
In addition to entertainment, festivals can also bring opportunities almost unheard of at any other college. SXSW, a nine-day-long mega-festival that happens every year during UT Austin’s spring break, is among the most popular festivals in the nation, bringing about 400,000 visitors to Austin annually. It’s really three festivals in one, with separate tracks for film, music, and interactive (which features technology panels, startup competitions and comedy shows). SXSW offers a variety of opportunities for UT students, from volunteering to receive free passes to showcasing startup ideas or performing with their bands. The university is so involved with SXSW that they have their own official festival venue, UT Live, to highlight some of the innovative thinking happening at UT Austin.
More than anything, students love the variety of options Austin’s festival scene allows them. “There’s really something for everyone,” says Chandler Forsythe, a junior international relations major from Fort Worth, Texas. “No matter what kind of music you listen to, there’s a festival for you—ACL for the most popular bands, Sound on Sound Fest for the indie kids, South by [Southwest] for everyone else… plus there’s the smaller fests if one of the [popular ones] doesn’t float your boat.”