October/November Events in Austin

Fall Fun All Over Town

Typically mild weather in October and November means that it’s prime time for all sorts of festivals and outdoor events. Here’s a sampling of some of the best annual events. 

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    AOL Build Speaker Series - Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, Leslie Jones, Kate McKinnon, Paul Feig and Steve Higgins, 'Ghostbusters'
    ••• Paul Feig, 2016 AFF presenter. WireImage / Getty Images

    The Austin Film Festival has built its reputation around giving screenwriters the attention they deserve. The 2016 schedule honors that tradition with several panels on breaking into the business and navigating the eccentricities of being a working screenwriter. Also, everyone who enters the screenwriting competition gets detailed notes about their script from one of the judges. This year, even more emphasis is being placed on streaming platforms. There’s even a Scripted Digital Series contest focused exclusively on this burgeoning area. Most of the high-profile screenings are held at the Paramount Theatre, but there are also screenings and events all over town. 

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    F1 race track tower
    ••• Austin's F1 race track. © Keith Rizzo

    Due to complications concerning the race’s parent company, it’s possible that this could be the last year that the United States Grand Prix will be held in Austin. If this is the last one, though, it’s guaranteed to be an event to remember. Headlining performers include Taylor Swift and The Weeknd. Though F1 racing doesn’t have a particularly high profile in the United States, it has a huge following around the globe. More than 100,000 race fans descend on Austin for the long weekend, and at least a few of them are among the world’s wealthiest people. In fact, some commute daily to the race track by helicopter. Several blocks in downtown Austin also host race-related activities such as driving simulators and demonstrations. 

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    Located at the historic Scholz Biergarten, Austoberfest offers more German sausage and beer options than most digestive systems can handle. The entry fee includes unlimited sausage tastings. In addition to celebrating sausage and beer, the event pays homage to central Texas’ rich German heritage. Brave Combo and Two Hoots and a Holler are performing on the outdoor stage. You can bring your own beer stein, but if you haul in a giant one, you will only receive a pre-measured amount of beer with your purchase. 

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    The sheer variety of authors that show up at the Texas Book Festival is astonishing. While there are still many Texas authors in attendance, the scope of the free event has expanded considerably in recent years. You may meet anyone from highly respected literary authors to the latest YouTube star who cranked out a book. Headquartered at the Texas State Capitol, the event also hosts signings and panel discussions at 20 venues around town. 

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    An awe-inspiring celebration of Native American heritage, the Austin Powwow brings together thousands of American Indians from all over the United States. The event focuses on preserving American Indian cultures and educating the public about the issues these communities continue to face. In addition to traditional dances and musical performances, panel discussions cover topics such as health care and native foods. 

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    One of the longest-running fall festivals in town, the Austin Celtic Festival has been going strong for 20 years. Much more than an excuse to drink beer, the festival explores several aspects of Celtic culture, including traditional sports, genealogy, music, dance — and even Celtic animals! Be warned, though, they only allow certified Celtic breeds onto the fairgrounds. Most of the musical acts play a lively mix of traditional and contemporary tunes. The setting at Fiesta Gardens is ideal for casual strolling along Lady Bird Lake while munching on a Cornish pasty and sipping a brew. 

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    You’ll be blown away by all the talent that lies hidden in our fair city. The East Austin Studio Tour takes you on a self-guided tour of small galleries, working studios and even private homes. On most days, you’ll be able to have a chat with the artist and gain a better understanding of how his or her work comes together. Participants include every type of artist and artisan imaginable, from potters to painters to landscape architects. 

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    A 26-year Thanksgiving tradition, the Thundercloud Subs Turkey Trot has become the informal kickoff to the Christmas season in Austin. The main event is a five-mile run, but there are also shorter events, including a Kids K and a one-mile walk. Race proceeds benefit Caritas, a charity devoted to fighting poverty and homelessness. This year, a Honda Accord is also being raffled off. The event usually attracts around 20,000 runners. 

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    Another time-honored tradition in Austin, the Chuy’s parade raises money for Operation Blue Santa. Started by the Austin Police Department, Operation Blue Santa provides free meals and toys for low-income families during the Christmas season. What started as a toy drive in 1987 evolved by 1989 into a full-fledged parade, which was conceived and planned by Chuy’s co-founder Mike Young. At a predefined point in the parade, the procession stops and volunteers collect unwrapped toys brought by the spectators lining the roads. It’s a great way to get into the Christmas spirit. The parade route runs southward from the state capitol to Cesar Chavez, just north of Lady Bird Lake. 

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    Thom Yorke of Radiohead
    ••• Thom Yorke of Radiohead. Redferns / Getty Images

    What started as a quaint PBS television show has exploded into a two-weekend music festival that draws fans from all over the world. Highlights of the 2016 schedule include Radiohead, Major Lazer and Band of Horses. Fans of traditional Texas music should catch Asleep at the Wheel on the Honda stage. There’s a heavy dose of Americana music this year, including up-and-comers such as Margo Price and Maren Morris.