Food | Ice Cream Festival
Summers in Texas can be sweltering – fight through the heat wave at the Austin Ice Cream Festival and enjoy some wondrous, refreshing ice cream brought to the city by the best local and national producers. The ice cream bash will take place in the Fiesta Gardens, a charming park in Austin which provides enough space for the wealth of live music and kids activities designed to make the festival a great day to spend with the family. The highlights of the event, however, will be three major ice cream contests in which visitors are well invited to participate. Bring along your homemade ice cream, let your creativity flow to craft a beautiful sculpture from nothing but popsicle sticks, or get ready to go up against many fellow ice cream junkies in the funniest competitions of them all, the ice cream eating contest!
Food | Hot Sauce Festival
Because Austinites love Mexican food, it shouldn’t be a surprise that every year the city hosts a whole event to celebrate hot sauces, a key highlight of Tex-Mex cooking. Launched in 1990 by the Austin Chronicle, a popular weekly newspaper, the Hot Sauce Festival has grown in popularity with each passing edition, coming to attract an audience of over 15,000 people. As if the spicy sauces weren’t enough, three fierce competitions will overheat the event’s arena even more. Individuals, restaurants and commercial bottlers will put their sauces on the table for the judges – some of the finest chefs in Texas – to choose the absolute best. Don’t forget to stop at the giant tasting tent either, where visitors will be free to sample hundreds of delicious sauces. A chance too good for foodies to pass up!
Art | A Secret Affair: Selections from the Fuhrman Family Collection
Until 24 August
As part of its inaugural year’s exhibition programme, Austin’s brand-new museum of contemporary art, The Contemporary Austin, presents a display of artworks culled from the outstanding possessions of collectors Glenn and Amanda Fuhrman. The show is called A Secret Affair, and comprises a selection of pieces – sculptures, for the most part – dealing with the theme of the body and its absence. The works on view are by such internationally renowned artists as Matthew Barney, Maurizio Cattelan, Katharina Fritsch and Louise Bourgeois. Bourgeois’s sculpture ‘Couple’, two pink figures of a man and a woman, merged at the belly inside a glass cage, is one of the most provocative in the grouping for the way it ambivalently suggests both a loving and a submissive relationship between the two.
Music | Nine Inch Nails & Soundgarden
Next 14 August unusual vibrations might be reported to shake the grounds of Austin, but keep calm – it’s only two of the greatest, most influential rock bands playing in the same night, on the same stage. Bow to the powerful music of Nine Inch Nails, the pioneers of industrial metal that have had so much impact on electronic music as well. Led by the genius of Trent Reznor, the band has sold more than 30 million albums worldwide over a two-decade long career. Nine Inch Nails have teamed up with Soundgarden, a seminal alternative rock band that created grunge rock alongside the likes of Pearl Jam and Nirvana, for a unique tour that will make stops in major cities across the entire North America, including Austin.
Performing Arts | Cirque du Soleil’s Michael Jackson The Immortal Tour
5 – 6 August
Cirque Du Soleil and Michael Jackson. One can’t think of two artists more able in making a spectacular, thrilling show of their extraordinary talents. Imagine what could happen putting them together – or see for yourself buying a ticket for the Cirque Du Soleil’s Michael Jackson The Immortal tour. For this special tour, the worldwide famous ensemble of Cirque Du Soleil performers have designed an explosive show that homages the unique music of the deceased Jackson. Electrifying visuals and exciting choreographies, orchestrated to the beat of Jackson’s memorable songs, will leave the audience gasping for breath. This summer, the Immortal Tour will stop in Cedar Park, a major suburb just north of Austin.
Performing Arts | Bright Now Beyond
Until 23 August
Not many know, but L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, the children’s book on which the popular The Wizard of Oz film was based, has a sequel, called The Marvelous Land of Oz. In this new chapter, the protagonist is Tip, a young boy under the guardianship of a wicked witch named Mombi. One day, Tip finally escapes Mombi, but not before stealing some magical powder with which he will bring to life a pumpkin-headed man and a wooden sawhorse. In their company, he heads to Emerald City, but trouble is in sight, as General Jinjur and his all-girl army are intent on overthrowing the Scarecrow, who has been King of Emerald City since the end of The Wonderful Wizard of Oz. Award-winning playwright Daniel Alexander Jones’s new work, Bright New Beyond, is loosely based on this sequel, and is on at Austin’s Salvage Vanguard Theater until 23 August.
Art | In the Company of Cats and Dogs
Pets have a special place in our hearts, and the most celebrated figures in the history of the fine arts make no exception. In the Company of Cats and Dogs, a new exhibition now open in Austin’s Blanton Museum of Art, explores our relationship with the two most common pets, and how it changed through the ages, through a display of artworks by no less than William Blake, Francisco Goya, Paul Gauguin, Pablo Picasso, Henri Cartier-Bresson and many more. The show also presents a number of relevant and most interesting Egyptian sculptures, Chinese and pre-Columbian ceramics, medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, as well as a selection of prints, books, photographs and paintings in the museum’s own collections. A rich and varied grouping that attests to the special bond man has had with cats and dogs across time and place.
Culture | Sixty from the ’60s
Who defined America in the 1960s? Who played a role in that decade so rich in both culture and historical facts? The Lyndon Baines Johnson Presidential Library, a prominent cultural institution in Austin, answers that question with an exhibition of documents and memorabilia related to sixty Americans who, for one reason or another, left their mark in those years, but whose legacy still resonates today. The list includes three presidents of the United States, Lyndon Johnson himself, Richard Nixon and John Kennedy; social activists like Martin Luther King and Malcolm X; the queen of soul Aretha Franklin, pop artists Andy Warhol and Roy Lichtenstein and the advertising guru David Ogilvy; boxer Muhammed Ali, the Apollo 11 crew and even Playboy founder Hugh Hefner. An exciting dive into an unforgettable epoch.
Music & Film | Austin Sound & Cinema
13 – 20 August
What beats the vision of a good, classic Hollywood film in a beautiful park, on a summer night? Easy: enjoying some delicious food and the live music of a great band before the movie magic begins. This is the simple yet winning idea behind Austin Sound & Cinema, a series of six night appointments which pair a classic film with the live concert of a local group. Next 13 August, The Golden Dawn Arkestra will precede the screening of Raiders of the Lost Ark from the series of Indiana Jones films; on the 20th, the Octopus Project will play before Close Encounters of the Third Kind. All will happen on the charming lawn outside Austin’s Long Center for the Performing Arts, which also offers a striking view on the city’s skyline. Two hours before the concerts begin, food trucks by some of the best eateries in town will set up camp in the park to tickle the visitors’ taste buds.
Food & Music | The Wine Down
11 – 25 August
While Austin Sound & Cinema pairs live music with Hollywood films, The Wine Down follows a similar scheme but replaces the films with food, drinks and shopping. Every other Monday for a total of six weeks from June to August, a great band entertains the audience while a local restaurant offers delicious bites and nice drinks at happy hour prices. On top of that, several Austin retailers will join the events to set pop-up shops and present their goods to the public. In August, the last two appointments in The Wine Down series will be held: on the 11, Dawn and Hawkes will play while New American restaurant The Bonneville satisfies the visitors’ appetite; on the 25th, the stage will welcome The Harvest Thieves, and the featured restaurant will be Asian restaurant Mama Fu’s.
The Wine Down, ACL Live, 310 W Willie Nelson Blvd, Austin, TX, USA, +1 512 225 7999
By Graziano Scaldaferri