SXSW has come and gone for yet another year, leaving many experiencing SXSW withdrawal of sorts, wondering where the next raucous party, superb band, or fun party is. I get it, I really do. One minute the city is abuzz with all this SXSW creative energy, and POOF! It’s gone the next.
Chin up, Buttercup! I’ve got you. Or rather, Austin’s got you! The fun continues throughout the year. Here are some upcoming springtime events in Austin that will help you find that adrenaline rush or dopamine hit you may be craving to cure those post-SXSW blues.
Here are some of the Austin events this spring, many of them starting now!
Disclosure: I have been gifted tickets to Surreal Garden, Vincent, and AirOtic Soirée and media membership to the Wine & Food Foundation. All opinions are my own.
1/ Surreal Garden: Ion Art’s Neon Art Party at Zilker Botanical Garden
Zilker Botanical Garden, April 6-8 and 13-15, VIP Tickets $200, GA tickets $40
One of my favorite events of the entire year is the Surreal Garden party thrown by Ion Art at Zilker Botanical Garden. They’ve been throwing these fabulous art parties since 2017. These events come complete with DJs, Go-go dance cages, and adult beverages, along with the main attraction, Ion Art’s eye-popping, mind-expanding art, made of neon, steel, glass, mirrors, wood, and ceramic. Moving to Zilker botanical gardens allowed Ion Art to add five extra nights to their parties instead of only one night. This event is just super cool and fun. In the meantime, you can get your tickets here.
Surreal Garden 2023 starts April 6, with the VIP night. VIP tickets tasting bites by Maudie’s Tex-Mex, Jewboy Sliders, TacoMan 512, Downtown Burgers, Goose and Gander, Mozart’s Coffee Roasters, Sugar Mama’s Bakeshop, Zucchini Kill Bakery, Pretty Cute Coffee, and Calibrate Wellness; craft cocktails sponsored by local favorites including the Surreal Beer debut by Austin Beerworks; dance music by Mixer Rogers, surreal performances, special guest emcee Sean Mack from Mix 94.7, unique photo opportunities, and more surprises!
General Admission nights are April 7, eighth 13th, 14th and 15th. There are 30 new interactive art installments this year, inspired by Zilker Botanical Garden. GA nights will have lots to see, plus food and drinks available for purchase. And 25% of all ticket sales go to Zilker Botanical Garden Conservancy.
2/ Vincent: Play on Van Gogh’s Life by Penfold Theatre
Ground Floor Theatre, Thursdays-Sundays through April 8, tickets $16-$31
Vincent is a one-man play about Van Gogh’s life and death as remembered by his brother Theo. This very intense, captivating play, written by *the* Leonard Nimoy, is put on by the Penfold Theatre. Beth Burns directs the play and Penfold co-founders Ryan Crowder and Nathan Jerkins alternate performances in the role originated by Leonard Nimoy. The production also features music by a local French jazz artist, Julie Slim.
This show runs 75 minutes long and takes the audience on an emotional ride, as the lead actor, as Theo, ruminates on Vincent’s often troubled life. Based on actual letters between the pair, the play goes beyond mere biography of the misunderstood artist by celebrating the courage, passion, and lust for life that art kindles in us all.
The show is at Ground Floor Theatre at 979 Springdale. Arrive early and grab a drink in the same complex at Friends & Allies Brewing or Austin Eastciders or a bite at Dipping Springs Tender Co.
3/ Smoke + Mash & Fierce Whiskers Distillery Bottle release and BBQ party
Fierce Whiskers Distillery, April 1, BBQ tickets $38, Special Rye Whiskey release $105
Smoke + Mash is the best Facebook group on the planet. I said what I said! This Facebook group brings together lovers of smoke (BBQ and/or cigars) and mash (whiskey, mostly), but it is also a fabulous and supportive online community, something that is becoming rarer to see. Smoke + Mash founder Robert Jacob Lerma, known for his photography, his writing, his epic whiskey collection, and for being an all-around mensch and everyone’s buddy. His Smoke + Mash parties are events that bring some of the best in the business together for a laid-back but delicious BBQ feast, washed down with good whiskey, of course.
Two special Fierce Whiskers Distillery straight rye barrels will be dropping at cask strength tomorrow, April 1, at the Smoke + Mash and Fierce Whiskers party. The special, limited release (just 442 bottles) features a custom “Tootsie” photograph label by Robert Jacob Lerma. Texas BBQ aficionados know Tootsie Tomanetz as the legendary Pitmaster at Snow’s BBQ in Lexington, Texas. Bottles are $105, and $5 of every bottle sold goes directly to Tootsie. A little birdie told me Tootsie herself will grace the party with her presence.
Pitmasters Bryan Furman, Leonard Bottelo of Truth BBQ, and Ernest Servantes of Burnt Bean Company will be cooking up plates for the event. A $38 ticket gets you a wristband for one of each of these BBQ master’s dishes.
4/ Toast of Texas: Texas Wine Party by the Wine & Food Foundation
Star Hill Ranch, April 23, WFF Member Tickets $65, non-member tickets $85
This annual event, put on by the Wine & Food Foundation, April 23, brings out dozens of Texas wineries for an afternoon sip and stroll. Sip Texas wines while meandering the grounds of the Star Hill Ranch in Bee Cave, Texas. This is a great chance to talk to winemakers and winery owners from across Texas (too many to list here), eat paella, and bid on silent auction items. Support Texas wineries and the Wine & Food Foundation’s philanthropic mission at this event. They have even added a transportation option this year. Designated drivers are a must if you plan to sample the wines.
More on the Wine & Food Foundation’s mission, from their website: “Since 1995, The Wine & Food Foundation has enriched the community by awarding more than $1.6 million in grants, scholarships, and hospitality industry support. Recipients include Southern Smoke, Austin Shift Meal, Urban Roots, Central Texas Food Bank, KLRU, The Sustainable Food Center, and Dell Children’s Medical Center. Scholarships have been awarded to attend institutions and programs including Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, TEXSOM (the annual Texas Sommelier Conference), Texas Culinary Academy, and Texas A&M’s Agriculture Program.”
5/ Chow Down at a Crawfish Boil at a Local Brewery
There is simply too much to share about all the goodness happening at all of the craft breweries around town, but my friend and fellow Austin Food Blogger Alliance member, Craft Beer Austin, does an impressive job at keeping up with all the localish craft beer news. You should definitely subscribe to that blog if you want to know what’s happening at Austin-area craft breweries, brew pubs, and beer bars.
I love crawfish season! There’s nothing like eating those spicy crawdaddies and washing it down with a cold, local beer. The season is now in full swing, and Craft Beer Austin has published the ultimate guide to all the crawfish boils happening at local breweries this spring. Get ya some while they last!
6/ Drag Queen Bingo and More at Still Austin Whiskey
Still Austin Whiskey, April 9 & 30, FREE
Still Austin Whiskey is one of my favorite spots to chill, as it’s a beautiful space, and they make fab whiskey. Their events are always fun and lively, and Drag Queen Bingo is a blast, plus it’s free! Still Austin Whiskey has long been a champion for LGBTQ communities, and in fact are partly LGBTQ-owned. Still hosts Drag Queen Bingo with Senator Colleen Deforrest every second and last Sunday of the month from 1pm-3pm. Go have fun, win prizes, and support our drag and LGBTQ community in Austin.
You can also catch free live music at their Bourbon & Blues series, every other Wednesday, featuring up-and-coming Texas blues musician, Lew Apollo calendar of events.
7/ Texas Hill Country Wineries Austin Road Show
Lexus Club at Q2 Stadium, April 17, Tasting ticket $75, Designated Driver ticket $30
Texas Hill Country Wineries, known for their Texas Wine Trail passport events held throughout the year, is hosting a tasting event at Q2 Stadium, home of the Austin FC, on April 17. They are bringing 29 Texas wineries and more than 80 wines to the stadium for this event. Tickets include wine tastings, charcuterie, and a commemorative glass.
8/ Celebrate National Poetry Day With Typewriter Rodeo at Meanwhile Brewing
Meanwhile Brewing Co., April 11, FREE
Meanwhile Brewing has been killing it lately with their events that include yoga, heaps of live music, and National Poetry Day with Typewriter Rodeo. Typewriter Rodeo is group of Austin poets who create custom poems on the spot, typed up on vintage typewriters. Typewriter Rodeo founders include Jodi Egerton, David Fruchter, Kari Anne Holt, and Sean Petrie. While the event is free, be sure to tip your poets!
Visit this spacious brewery with an impressive array of yummy beers, picnic tables under shade trees, a large artificial turf lawn area, and great food trucks, at 3901 Promontory Point Dr. in Austin. Food trucks at Meanwhile include Tex-Mex Pueblo Viejo, Side Eye Pie pizza, Distant Relatives African-diaspora-inspired BBQ, Songbird sandwiches and such, and Bésame Central American ice cream. Apart from the seating areas. they also have a small soccer field on property.
9/ AirOtic Soirée Circus-style Burlesque Show
The Venue ATX, April-June Fridays and Saturdays, Tickets start at $45
Now here’s something you don’t see every day! AirOtic Soirée brings a sexy aerial show to Austin. The show, on international tour, brings a circus-style burlesque show to Austin’s The Venue ATX at 516 E. 6th. The show features aerial acrobats to “combine an open-air circus show with the excitement of a cabaret. Tickets for April are still available, but are a;ready running low. Get them while you can.
10/ Hill Country Ride for AIDS Opening Ceremony Celebration at Last Stand Brewing
Last Stand Brewing, April 20, Free/Krause Springs, Texas, April 22
The Hill Country Ride for AIDS (HCRA) is an annual 100-mile bike ride through the Texas Hill Country leaving from Krause Springs. The actual ride is on April 22 this year. It’s the largest fundraiser in Central Texas for HIV/AIDS services and education. HCRA raises money for these programs:
- CARE Program
- Community Action
- Friends of David Powell Clinic
- Project Transitions
- Out Youth
- Vivent Health
- Waterloo Counseling Center.
They have raised more than $12 million over the past 23 years. Check out the Hill Country Ride for AIDS website for ways to get involved. HCRA holds multiple fundraisers and smaller rides throughout the training season leading up to the big ride. You can also sign up to join a team and ride, register a whole team, or sign up to volunteer, too. It’s a great fundraising event helping out so many of our Central Texas neighbors in need.
RSVP for the opening ceremony celebration at Last Stand Brewing on South Congress.
Well, those are my top picks for April. I had so many more ideas, but at some point, you have to just call it and publish the damn thing, you know? Enjoy springtime in Austin. I hope to see you at some of these cool events!