Returning This Weekend: The Fall Pecan Street Festival

Austin is known for its lively music scene, its unique food trailer parks, and a distinctly "weird" city culture—which is actually a point of pride for residents. The Pecan Street Festival highlights all three at its biannual event. The second festival of the year is coming up on September 22nd and 23rd, and it will unfold on Sixth Street (formerly known as "Pecan Street").

Come to check out the free fest if you're a fan of Austin's artsy side. It plays host to hundreds of handpicked artisans selling their own masterpieces made from metal, wood, clay, leather, and other materials. Much of the inventory consists of pieces that have been upcycled, which is good news for eco-enthusiasts. While you shop, enjoy live music by more than 50 local bands and grab some food from Austin's favorite eateries and food trailers.

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Kinokuniya: A New Japanese Bookstore in Austin

Kinokuniya started out as a small bookstore and art gallery in Tokyo back in 1927, but it wasn't until 1949 that the store began to add English books to its inventory. By 1964, it boasted a huge headquarters in Shinjuku, and in 1969, the bookstore began to expand to the U.S. It boasts more than 80 Stateside stores today, including one in Austin that just opened in May.

This unique bookstore offers an array of Japanese literature, including Manga and graphic novels, as well as magazines and stationery from Japan. It also boasts unique notebooks and small toys and trinkets, which makes exploring the shop a fun adventure every time. So head to this Japanese bookshop when you want to expand your literary collection to include a few international reads.

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Eat Your Way Through the Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival on Aug. 26

It's been nearly 30 years since the first Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. Back in 1990, the newly minted fest consisted of a handful of hot sauce lovers competing for the honor of the Best Homemade Hot Sauce award. The festival looks a little different today. It brings in as many as 10,000 tasters to try the 350-plus hot sauces entered into the contest each year.

Those guests usually go through hundreds of gallons of hot sauce by the time the day is over, a testament to the tastiness of this trending condiment. Come to Fiesta Gardens on Sunday, August 26th to be part of the 28th Annual Austin Chronicle Hot Sauce Festival. Its mix of tastings from local eateries, live music, and hot sauce-centric shopping should be enough to keep you entertained all day long. You get in for free when you bring three food items to donate to the Central Texas Food Bank, or you can donate $5 to the food bank instead.

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Get a Bird’s Eye View of Texas With Lake Travis Zipline Adventures

Lake Travis Zipline Adventures boasts three of the longest, fastest zip lines in Texas—one is more than a half-mile long. They're just three of the five total zip lines, which zig-zag across picturesque forested areas and sparkling stretches of the lake. Choose a daytime or evening adventure and experience the thrill of zip-lining for yourself.

Whether you enjoy your excursion in the sunlight or the moonlight, the stunning views will be well worth your time. After a brief orientation, your guide will help to get you safely harnessed into the first zip line so that you can start to cruise through the air. Zoom along the lines, drinking in panoramic views of the canyons and ebbing waters below. The zip lines range from 300 feet to more than 2,800 feet, and the tour takes about three hours to complete. Afterward, stick around to splash and play on Lake Travis Zipline Adventures' private beach along the banks of the lake.

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Bat Fest on Aug. 18: Another Offbeat Community Event That Helps Keep Austin Weird

Whereas most cities would probably try to find ways to deter a colony of bats from settling beneath one of their major bridges, the proudly weird city of Austin did the opposite. When a renovation of the Congress Avenue Bridge accidentally converted it into a makeshift bat cave and the nocturnal critters came flocking, the residents of the city embraced their new neighbors. In fact, they started an event to celebrate their presence 14 years ago: the annual Bat Fest.

On Saturday, August 18th, the tradition continues. Approximately 1.5 million Mexican free-tailed bats will come forth from their Congress Ave home between 7 and 8:45 p.m. As you wait for the main event, enjoy the other festivities that kick off at 4 p.m. Watch live music on two stages, check out 50-plus arts and crafts vendors, and dig into tasty food and drinks from local vendors. Admission starts at $15 when you buy a ticket in advance.

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Celebrate a First Lady at the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center on July 28

When Lady Bird Johson, the First Lady to President Lyndon B. Johnson, stepped into her role, Mother Nature rejoiced. Lady Bird Johnson helped to establish eco-friendly institutions like the National Wildflower Research Center—now the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center—and pushed for environmentally conscious legislation. Every year, her namesake research center celebrates Lady Bird Day in her honor. This year, it's coming to the Wildflower Center on Saturday, July 28th.

The free event pays homage to the former First Lady with a guided tour of the beautiful gardens, as well as games and discovery activities in the fresh air. To learn more about Lady Bird, stop by the auditorium to see some of her own home movies and other films that reveal more about her legacy. The fun runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

German and Texan Cultures Collide at the Texanische Nacht on July 21

The Austin Saengerrunde began as a group of German transplants dedicated to preserving the melodies of their home country in 1879. The German singing group eventually branched out to become an organization that embraced and preserved every facet of German culture, not just music. They even installed a bowling alley in their meeting place, which still exists and now boasts six contemporary lanes. The bowling alley and adjoining event hall will host the Austin Saengerrunde's Texanische Nacht on Saturday, July 21st.

This night-long celebration showcases German heritage and Texas tradition all at once. The Cornell Hurd Band kicks off the evening at 7 p.m. with their signature Western swing, country, and rock music. Dance to the music and bowl a few rounds in the Saengerrunde's alley along the way while you enjoy some complimentary beverages. Tickets are $25.

Unplugged at the Grove: 25 Years of Live Music

When Shady Grove held the first season of Unplugged at the Grove 25 years ago, Austin's music scene was still a work in progress. Many of its other now-beloved music venues didn't exist, Austin City Limits wasn't even an idea yet, and South by Southwest was a much smaller fest only a few years old. A lot has changed since that first year of Unplugged at the Grove, but this free fresh-air concert series remains the same.

Come to Shady Grove any Thursday now through mid-September to enjoy the live tunes, no cover necessary. The schedule includes a mix of established artists and up-and-coming bands. On July 19th, Asleep at the Wheel brings the up-tempo country beats that have made them locally famous. Then on August 16th, bluesy guitarist Eric Tessmer will grace the stage. Grab a seat on the lawn or a table and a drink at least 30 minutes before the show begins at 8 p.m.

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Stock Up on Fresh Food at the Texas Farmers’ Market at Mueller

According to the readers of the Austin Chronicle, the Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller is the best farmers' market in the whole city. In fact, the market has garnered so much buzz that it recently debuted a second weekly installment. Now you can visit the Browning Hangar Sundays from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. or Wednesdays from 5 to 8 p.m. for access to fresh, local food.

Depending on which day you visit the market, you'll find a slightly different lineup of vendors. Many of the vendors are actually producers, the farmers and ranchers who cultivate and raise the products that they sell. For instance, Austin Honey, Engel Farm, and Grass-Fed Beef of Texas all fall under the umbrella of producers. Then there are other artisan vendors who sell everything from handcrafted sunflower seed spreads (Floreli Foods) to vegan muffins (The Sprouted Bakery). Come to the Texas Farmers' Market at Mueller this week to meet the vendors yourself and head home with enough groceries to fill your fridge.

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Celebrate Your Nation at the H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks

When the H-E-B Austin Symphony July 4th Concert & Fireworks returns to Vic Mathias Shores this Independence Day, it's expected to draw crowds. The celebration typically draws about 100,000 people to the lawn of the park to watch the colorful fireworks display.

Show up an hour or so before the show begins at 8:30 p.m. to grab a good spot on the grass. The Austin Symphony will kick off the evening with an upbeat concert featuring some of your favorite patriotic tunes. Then at 9:30 p.m., the fireworks show begins. Sit back and watch the sky explode with sparkly hues as you remember the brave people who fought for freedom all those centuries ago. If you can't make it to the concert in person, listen to it on Majic 95.5 FM instead.

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