In Austin, Barton Springs Transforms Under the Full Moon

| © Mike Reddy / Culture Trip
Jessica Devenyns

Barton Springs in Zilker Park is a legendary spot in Austin; in the midday sun, clear spring water and a canopy of oaks beckon to the overheated. But this is only half the story of what makes this natural pool special – the other plays out under the cover of darkness.

Loved by over 40s

Every evening until 10pm, Barton Springs in Austin’s Zilker Park provides a community space where swimmers can relax and take a refreshing dip before heading home (or out for a night on the town).

Once a month, however, locals gather for a Full Moon Party, howling in unison as they splash in the water. For years, this remained an underground and unofficial tradition, with people hearing about it through word of mouth alone.

Unfortunately, as with anything that gains traction on social media, it began to regularly attract crowds in excess of 2,500 people; in 2016, city officials had to step in for public safety reasons.

Now, entrance is limited after 8:30pm to 750 partygoers, who are required to pay the pool’s standard admission fee, even during the autumn and winter months when entry is usually free.

But what’s it really like to experience this Austin tradition? Mike Reddy tells the full story in a series of original illustrations.

Back in the day, local families met under the full moon for a potluck picnic, a celebration of nature and, of course, a swim.

Since the tradition took off on social media, it has attracted a younger, slightly rowdier crowd. It’s best to arrive early to claim a parking spot and a place in line before capacity is reached.

The three-acre pool has been a go-to destination for locals for generations; it’s said that Robert Redford learned to swim here during one of his boyhood summers in the city.

Though it might seem weird – this is Austin, y’all – people of all ages and stages really do come together to lift their voices skywards. In 2016, city officials reported that lifeguards had trouble hearing due to the elevated decibel the howls reached that summer.

Splashing, too, is an essential component of the full moon party experience.

Even in the depth of winter, and the dead of night, the water remains at 68F (20C); there really is no excuse not to stop by for a moonlit dip the next time you’re in town.

culture trip left arrow
 culture trip brand logo

Volcanic Iceland Epic Trip

meet our Local Insider


women sitting on iceberg


2 years.


It's the personal contact, the personal experiences. I love meeting people from all over the world... I really like getting to know everyone and feeling like I'm traveling with a group of friends.


I have so many places on my list, but I would really lobe to go to Africa. I consider myself an “adventure girl” and Africa feels like the ULTIMATE adventure!

culture trip logo letter c
group posing for picture on iceberg
group posing for picture on iceberg

Every CULTURE TRIP Small-group adventure is led by a Local Insider just like Hanna.

map of volcanic iceland trip destination points
culture trip brand logo
culture trip right arrow
landscape with balloons floating in the air


Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world

Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.

Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.

Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.

Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.

We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.