The Basic Rundown:
This year’s Euphoria Music and Camping Festival was a much-improved event from the previous year, and (in my opinion) went off without a hitch. After weather reports threatened rain all weekend, attendees were all pretty sure they were going to get soaked. Friday when the gates opened, fans poured in in droves donning ponchos, umbrellas and rain boots expecting the worst. You know what? It didn’t rain a drop. Our good fortune continued throughout the weekend, proving that weathermen don’t know what the heck they’re talking about.
This year’s lineup was more than on-point, it was phenomenal. Major headliners included STS9, Pretty Lights, Thievery Corporation, Adventure Club, Big Gigantic, and the triumphant return of Ghostland Observatory! Aside from the headliners, favorites from the fest included Emancipator Ensemble on Friday and Break Science on Sunday. Being a huge Emancipator fan, I had only seen them as a two-piece. I always wondered why their live show sounded so different from their albums (still good, just different). Upon hearing the band in it’s entirety I was reminded exactly why I love them so much. Gorgeous melodies mixed seamlessly with fat bass-y, world beats make Emancipator Ensemble one of my favorites of the entire festival. Break Science was another act I forgot I loved until I saw them at Euphoria. I remembered they were good, but not great! The crowd could not stop dancing during their entire set, and when they joined Big Gigantic on stage during their set right after, things got even better.
The campgrounds were much more organized than in previous years, and it wasn’t a far walk from the main area to the campgrounds. The stages were also laid out well. Although the Euphoria Stage and the Unearth Tent weren’t too far from each other, the sounds didn’t clash at all. In fact, if you were walking from one stage to the other there was almost a distinct point at which you stopped hearing one stage and started hearing another. I’m not sure how they pulled that one off, but well done! The third stage, Dragonfly Amphitheater, was positioned right in front of the river so that people looking at the stage were also taking in the beautiful river views. That stage was a real treat at sunset!
The food was delish, with local Austin fare offered mostly out of food trucks. Austin’s Home Slice Pizza had a stone furnace out there; serving up freshly made outdoors pizza. The people working there were so happy and friendly as well, I even made off with a free slice at the end of the festival! Chi Lantro was also out there, serving up their famous Kim chi Fries. I hadn’t tried them before the fest… they are SO GOOD! The drink situation was also pleasant, with several bars strategically placed throughout the festival, hosting several bartenders at each. I don’t think I waited in a line more than 5 minutes at any point during the fest, which is really saying something.
Another really cool thing about Euphoria Fest was that they partnered with Johnson’s Backyard Garden to offer attendees fresh, organic veggies at wholesale prices throughout the fest! Campers could upgrade their camping experience by keeping it local, and getting themselves some yummy greens from the farmers. They had cooking areas throughout the campgrounds as well, so people had the option to cook their own food, eat healthy, and avoid spending money in the festival grounds!
Getting There and Out of Town Advice:
The festival was held right outside of Austin at the Carson Creek Ranch, which is a beautiful place for a festival. If you are coming in from out of town, this location is quite close to the airport, which is convenient. If you’re planning on flying there, you will want to fly into Austin Bergstrom International Airport. Carson Creek Ranch is a 5-minute cab ride from the airport, and I believe they offered shuttles too. Located off of 183 and 290 in South East Austin, the festival was also convenient for people living in Central Texas to drive to.
Out of towners could reserve camping gear and extras like shampoo, sleeping bags and coolers ahead of time with Project Shelter and have them waiting for them at the General Store. They also offered tent rentals, which were all set up and ready to go upon the users arrival. Those tents came stocked for either two or four people, with cots or queen beds! This was a great option for those flying in, but also for folks who just felt like getting straight to the party upon arrival.
If you’re not camping, there are several hotels in the area you can stay at. Anything near the airport (there are several) or on the South East side of Austin would be plenty close.
What to Bring:
As with any camping festival, the first thing I would recommend you ensure you have is enough water for the weekend. While there are water fill stations within the festival grounds, dancing all night can dehydrate the body quickly and having water handy is key. Comfortable (and funky!) festival clothes are a must, with super comfy festival shoes! In a situation like Euphoria where it may or may not rain, I would recommend bringing rain boots, but also some all-terrain sandals like Teevas or Chacos. Sunscreen, sunglasses, a reusable bottle or camel back, and a portable phone charger are also among the essentials I would suggest bringing.
If you’re camping and haven’t opted for the Lilypad tent rentals, you should bring (of course) your tent, air mattress or sleeping bag, some chairs to sit on in the camp area, and some tarps in case of rain.
What to Do and See While in the Area:
If you are opting to forgo camping and decide to stay at a hotel, or just have a few days before or after the fest to explore Austin there are a few places you shouldn’t miss.
- Eat at Torchy’s Tacos, Kerby Lane, Franklin BBQ or Juan in a Million: These are probably four of the most typical Austin places to eat for someone who hasn’t been, and all are amazing. Eat Torchy’s if you want awesome, non-traditional tacos. The closest one to Carson Creek Ranch is the new (and impressive) Torchy’s Tacos Headquarters off 183 on Springdale road. YUM! Kerby Lane is a bit more of a hike, with the closest location being on South Lamar Boulevard. They are great for brunch, and serve a little bit of everything! Franklin BBQ has been on the Food Network and won all sorts of awards, it’s fabled as the worlds best BBQ. It’s actually pretty close to the festival, near East 7th street downtown. Just make sure you arrive early, as they tend to sell out by mid-day! Lastly, Juan in a Million, also on the East Side has big-as-your-plate, more traditional tex-mex tacos and Mexican food. It’s also probably the closest to the festival on East Cesar Chavez.
- Visit a natural body of water: Austin is known for its many nature preserves and watering holes. While the festival is on the Colorado River, you aren’t allowed to jump in at the fest. I’m sure there are entrance points along the river somewhere, but they aren’t my favorite. One of the most common spots in Austin is Barton Springs, but if want to discover something beautiful closer to the fest check out McKinney Falls Park. This beautiful park has a large pool perfect for swimming, complete with rocks to jump off of and an almost-cave.
- Shop on South Congress: The shops on South Congress are quintessentially Austin. Both sides of the street are lined with vintage stores, oddity and antique markets, and little boutiques. There is a costume store here called Lucy in Disguise with Diamonds that is absolutely the best! Peppered in amongst the shops there are restaurants and all sorts of things to see and do.
- Visit the Hope Outdoor Gallery (aka Baylor Street Art Wall): This outdoor gallery is filled with unique expressions from tons of creative street artists in Austin. It’s constantly changing because anyone can come and leave their mark! Four or five levels of concrete slabs are available for artists to create street art legally to be appreciated by all. It’s really quite beautiful. Take a paint can and leave your own mark, if that’s your thing, or just enjoy the beautiful scenery.
- Don’t believe everything the weatherman tells you. They said it was a 90% chance of rain most of the weekend and it didn’t rain a drop. While that’s a good thing, I’m sure it could have gone the other way as well. Pack for rain or shine, cold or warm. Texas weather is bipolar.
- Don’t even try to sneak in anything contraband into the festival. Security is tight; they even looked inside my lip-gloss container!
- Do camp if you can. There are tons of fun things to do in the campgrounds like hanging in the provided interactive hammocks to late night shows to morning yoga. These are things people without a camping pass didn’t get to experience.
- Do try to get some sleep. While there is music going on in the campgrounds well into the night, you’ll need your strength for dancing the next day.
- Do check out artists you haven’t heard of before. Isn’t that one of the best things about music festivals? I heard some GREAT acts during the day, like Pink Floyd bluegrass cover band New Car Caviar, and the one-man-funk-band Henry and the Invisibles!
Written by FestPop Head of Communication
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