Tuesday, March 7, 2023

Spring Festival Season Begins This Week, 3/7/23

Spring Festival Season is back, and the City of Austin is preparing to welcome visitors from around the globe for events happening in the coming weeks, beginning with the iconic SXSW Conference & Festivals that officially kicks off Friday, March 10. City leaders gathered Monday at Butler Park to discuss preparations currently underway for the safety of community members and visitors during Spring Festival Season.

“We are so excited to welcome SXSW – the festival that made Austin famous across the globe – back to our city, along with the thought leaders and trail blazers in education, music, technology, film and television that this iconic conference and festival draws year after year,” Mayor Kirk Watson said. “We live in a special place where ideas that change the world are conceived and launched and where creativity is fostered and flourishes. We are proud of our reputation as an incubator for all of those things and welcome the thousands of folks coming to experience it.”

While visitors who are drawn to Austin by the several festivals and major sporting events scheduled over the spring season add to the vibrancy of the City and bolster the local economy, City leaders recognize they also create added strain on City resources, traffic congestion increases, and potential travel delays. Safety is the City of Austin’s priority, and at the Spring Festival Season Pre-Event Press Conference, representatives from the City and partner agencies shared preparations in place to support the safety of community members and visitors.  
“Austin is prepared, and we ask for the patience and partnership of our residents as we navigate the by-product that these wonderful festivals and tremendous events bring with them,” Watson said.

Watch a replay of Monday’s press conference on ATXN.

Austin Transportation Department

Spring Festival Season will be a busy time downtown, and delays should be anticipated from the increased congestion in the area. Expect road closures and detours, and if employees and business owners can telework during this time, they are encouraged to do so.

A map is available with all the street closures. The map also includes important information about parking areas for scooters and shared bicycles, ride-share staging areas and public transit stops. Festival attendees are invited to take advantage of all the mobility options Austin has to offer like biking, walking, taking public transit, or using one of the City’s micromobility options.

If attendees drink at Spring Festival events, it is important that they to plan to get home safe. If they make the responsible choice and leave their parked vehicles overnight, get a safe ride home after drinking, and receive a citation, they may be eligible to get the parking ticket waived. To have their ticket waived, save the receipt from the safe ride home and fill out the online Get Home Safe Ticket Waiver Form.

Austin Police Department

Please drink responsibly and have a plan to get home safely.  A no-refusal initiative will begin on March 9 and run evenings and nights through March 19. During that time, additional officers will be staffed for DWI enforcement. This initiative is an effort to enforce DWI laws and keep the public safe by encouraging drivers to make responsible decisions.

With an increase in pedestrians, everyone should ensure they are following traffic signals, signage, and officer instructions. Additional officers will be assisting at some intersections to manage pedestrian traffic.
Human trafficking is always a concern, but especially during large-scale events. For more information about human trafficking, including signs for spotting it and prevention, visit texasattorneygeneral.gov.

Pay attention to your surroundings, especially in crowds.  If you see something, say something. 

Austin-Travis County EMS

Austin-Travis County EMS (ATCEMS) will have multiple dedicated response units and personnel assigned to the downtown area to respond to calls for service and transport patients who require additional care. 
The ATCEMS Patient Collection Point will be in operation from Tuesday, March 14 through Saturday, March 18 from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. each day.

Austin Fire Department

The Austin Fire Department’s (AFD) Special Events division will be working to ensure a safe, secure experience for all by:  

  • Performing both public assembly (PA) permit and night inspections.  
  • Teams of night inspectors will be out and about during the entire event, ensuring venues operate safely. The focus will be on inspections for overcrowding as well as general fire- and life-safety issues, including locked/blocked/obstructed exits, and complaint calls. 
  • AFD is part of the Public Assembly Code Enforcement (PACE) team and will be responding to overcrowding complaints in bars and other public assemblies, reports of unpermitted events, and will investigate complaint calls.  
  • Performing fire watch in those cases where necessary due to the complexity or size of particular events and/or variances allowed.
Austin Public Health

While COVID-19 hospitalizations in the Austin-Travis County area are trending downwards, the virus is still present in the community, and it is as important as ever to follow precautions to lower your risk.

  • In a time when international travel is high, getting vaccinated will increase protection against COVID-19 variants and sub-variants during the Spring Festival Season.
  • Wearing a mask during travel and in crowds will lower the risk of getting COVID-19.
Austin Parks and Recreation

Leave No Trace to protect Austin’s parks, trails, and green spaces. When visiting:

  • Respect other visitors. 
  • Take trash, leftover food, and pet waste with you when you leave Austin’s green spaces.
  • Plan ahead.
  • Dress for the weather.
  • Bring bags for pet waste, scoop the poop, and dispose of bags in designated areas.
  • For more information visit AustinTexas.gov/LeaveNoTrace.

Communication During Spring Festival Season  

The City of Austin (@austintexasgov) and Austin Emergency Management (@AustinHSEM) will utilize Twitter to share relevant information using #SpringFestATX.  

The Austin Police Department (@Austin_Police), Austin-Travis County EMS (@ATCEMS), and the Austin Fire Department (@austinfiredept@AustinFireInfo) will also employ their Twitter feeds for time-sensitive public safety notifications. 

Community members and visitors should call 9-1-1 in the event of an emergency – where there is an immediate threat to life or property – and Austin 3-1-1 (512-974-2000) to report a non-emergency situation. 

Details and updates for Spring Festival Season will be posted on austintexas.gov/springfestivalATX

About Austin Center for Events 

The Austin Center for Events (ACE) is a collaborative assembly of City of Austin departments and agencies designed to streamline special event permitting on public and private property. ACE is anchored by teams from Austin Public Health, Transportation, Parks, Music, Police, Fire, EMS, Code, Austin Resource Recovery, Development Services, and partner agencies. ACE works closely with event organizers to guide them through the special event permitting process.