A big Southern city that prides itself on ‘keeping Austin weird’, Texas’ capital and fourth largest city combines high tech industry with a fierce independent spirit.
A true hub for live music and unconventional art, it’s no surprise that Austin is one of America’s fastest growing cities and one of the most interesting places to visit in the United States. This is a city that sets out to surprise you!
Despite being home to countless high tech companies which earned the city the nickname ‘Silicon Hills’ in the 1990s, Austin is a city that considers itself to be something of a maverick. The ‘keep Austin weird’ initiative is an unofficial one, but is hugely popular within the city.
Thankfully Austinites don’t mean ‘weird’ in the conventional sense, but a desire to celebrate the city’s eccentric nature and diversity, whilst supporting local people and businesses – a great example of this is the popularity of the city’s SoCo shopping district on South Congress Avenue which is home to countless quirky coffee shops, unusual shops and food stalls.
If there is one aspect to Austin that genuinely is ‘weird’, it’s the role that live music plays in the city – partly due to the success of PBS’ live music TV show ‘Austin City Limits’. Per capita, Austin has more live music venues than anywhere else in the United States. Centred around 6th Street’s countless small bars and nightclubs, live music can be heard all over the city. Indeed, Austin has become something of a festival town with the aforementioned TV show’s annual three day festival in Ziker Park and the urban/punk Fun Fun Fun Fest held in Auditorium Shores.
Austin isn’t only about music though. Live theatre and filmmaking are also huge draws for visitors to the city. The Austin Film Festival attracts big names each year whilst the growing influence Department of Radio-TV-Film at the University of Texas, Austin is helping more and more films be made in the city – many of which are premiered at the Paramount, a historical movie theatre in Downtown.
For lovers of live performance, Austin is hope to dozens of professional and semi-professional theatre companies. Performing their work at live performance venues such as the Zachary Scott Theatre Centre and the Hyde Park Theatre, Austin makes it easy to see anything from a cutting edge one-man show to a major Shakespeare production. If you just fancy a good laugh, Austin also features a well-developed improve scene centred around small clubs and theatres such as The Hideout and New Movement Theatre.
Of course, there’s plenty of more traditional things to do in Austin – such as visit the city’s excellent symphony orchestra – but when there’s so much fun to be had just getting lost in the city itself, why not just go weird?