Zilker Metropolitan Park is a recreational area of roughly 350 acres (142 hectares) in south Austin, Texas, between the confluence of Barton Creek and the Colorado River. It was named for Andrew Jackson Zilker, who donated the site to the city in 1917. During the 1930s Great Depression, the land was turned into a park. Today, the park is a popular destination for a variety of recreational activities, including the hike and bike trail that runs beside Lady Bird Lake. The park’s size makes it ideal for large-scale events like the Austin City Limits Music Festival and the Zilker Park Kite Festival. The park was listed to the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.
In the 1830s, William Barton claimed the land surrounding Barton Springs for his cattle ranch. The Rabb family, who owned mills on Barton Creek, purchased it in the 1860s. Andrew Jackson Zilker owned a 350-acre (140 ha) tract of land between the Colorado River and Barton Creek, including the Springs, in the early twentieth century and used the spring water in his ice-making business. In 1917, 1923, and 1931, Zilker donated his land to the City of Austin in three payments, with the revenues going to a trust to fund Austin’s public schools.
The city converted the ranch into a public recreation area in the 1930s with Civil Works Administration assistance, adding park amenities and structures. Barton Springs Pool now has a concrete dam and a larger swimming area. In 1934, the park was renamed Zilker Metropolitan Park after its patron and sponsor.
Aside from general-purpose grass, sports fields, cross-country courses, historical markers, concession booths, and picnic areas, the park has a number of public attractions. The Zilker Botanical Garden, located near the park’s center, hosts the Zilker Gardens Festival each spring. The Austin Environmental & Science Center offers ecological displays, nature trail routes, and educational activities for children. The Umlauf Sculpture Garden, which borders the park’s southeast corner, features sculptures by artists such as Charles Umlauf. The Zilker Hillside Theater is frequently used by local theater companies, including free “Shakespeare in the Park” performances in May and an annual summer musical. Barton Springs Pool, located near the park on the east, provides public swimming; additional water sports are available in Barton Creek. Exhibits on the natural history of the Edwards Aquifer, which feeds Barton Springs, may be viewed near the Barton Springs Pool at the Beverly S. Sheffield Education Center. Every winter, the 155-foot (47-meter) Zilker Holiday Tree is illuminated, along with a Trail of Lights exhibit. The Zilker Zephyr 12 in (305 mm) gauge miniature train takes visitors on a tour of the park.
Because of the park’s amenities and large open spaces, it can host a number of large events throughout the year. During the Austin City Limits Music Festival, which takes place over two weekends in the fall, the park is packed with live musical performances by well-known musicians.
Austin City Limits Music Festival
The Austin City Limits Music Event (ACL) is an annual two-weekend music festival held at Zilker Park in Austin, Texas. C3 Presents, which also produces Lollapalooza in Chicago, organizes the event. It is based on the same-named KLRU/PBS music series.
ACL Musrock, independent, country, folk, electronic, and hip hop musicians interact with the audience. The performances will take place from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, with numerous stages set up across the park. Every year, over 450,000 people attend the festival. In addition to the music performances, there will be food and beverages, an art market, a kids section for families, and other activities for participants.
The festival began as a one-weekend event in 2002 and remained such until 2012. Austin City Council members unanimously approved on August 16, 2012, expanding the Austin City Limits Music Festival to two consecutive weekends beginning in 2013. Metallica, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Depeche Mode, Arctic Monkeys, Guns N’ Roses, Tame Impala, Robyn, Arcade Fire, Muse, Vampire Weekend, The Flaming Lips, Radiohead, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds, Pearl Jam, Foo Fighters, Austin native Gary Clark Jr., and others have all performed at the festival.
Due to the COVID-19 problem, the festival was canceled in July 2020.
Hulu announced in May 2022 that it would exclusively stream the festival, as well as the Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival and Lollapalooza.
The F Jazz Fest in New Orleans. Austin Eats features exhibitors from Austin restaurants as well as gluten-free and vegetarian options.
The ACL Art Market in Zilker Park features a diverse range of art merchants; all stalls are open during the festival.
Next Point of Interest: McKinney Falls State Park