The Pecan Street Festival is the longest-running free arts and crafts festival in Central Texas. It’s presented every year by The Pecan Street Association (PSA). A bunch of people gather in Downtown Austin to enjoy live music, and fun street food, purchase handmade items from local vendors, and learn more about the culture in Austin, Texas. It’s one of the best Austin festivals in September!
One of the main draws to the festival is the wide variety of original handcrafted creations (Pecan Street Fest is a great place to buy gifts). And of course, the live music is a big attraction - some of Austin’s top bands perform on the outdoor stages each year. There are also lots of kid-friendly activities perfect for your little ones.
Discover the history of Pecan Street and the best things to do at the Pecan Street Festival.
The Pecan Street Festival: A Weekend Guide
Brief History of Pecan Street Festival
Wondering why it’s called the Pecan Street Festival? Here’s a quick version: when Edwin Waller created Austin's street grid plan back in 1839, he suggested giving east-west streets with numeric designations and naming north-south streets after Texas rivers. But instead of numbers, the east-west streets were given tree names, and Pecan Street (6th Street) was at the center of it all.
However, in the 60s when Austinites started spreading out to the suburbs, Pecan Street was a ghost town. So residents had an idea to revive the area by throwing a festival, and the first Pecan Street Festival was in the 1970s. It started small, but it’s grown and grown and now it’s one of Austin’s most iconic local festivals.
And even though the decision to name the east-west streets after trees were later reversed and the streets were given numbers instead, the festival still keeps the original name of Pecan Street. The festival gives a nod to its original name, even though it’s now called Sixth Street (often referred to as “dirty Sixth”).
The Pecan Street Festival generates revenue through sponsorships, and they give the money to nonprofits. The East Austin Conservancy, the Austin Community Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Austin Parks & Recreation, the National Hispanic Institute, and the Health Alliance for Austin Musicians are a few organizations that have previously benefited from festival proceeds.
When Is Pecan Street Fest Held (2022)?
The free two-day arts event is every September. This year it’s on Saturday and Sunday, September 17-18 from 11 AM - 10 PM.
Where Is It?
In downtown Austin! If you’re on 6th Street (Pecan Street), you’ll be able to wander between I-35 and Brazos and the entire thing will be blocked off for the festival. The Pecan Street Festival is held in downtown Austin's Sixth Street Historic District. There will be hundreds of vendors displaying their original and unique handcrafted items, multiple stages for live music, more than a dozen food vendors, and even a kids area.
How Much Does Pecan Street Festival Cost?
It’s a FREE festival in Austin! For Pecan Street Festival attendees, admission is completely free of charge. However, expect to spend somewhere around $20-50 on food, drinks, and shopping. (Also, if you want to rent out one of the vendor booths, there’s an application involved.)
What Time Is The Pecan Street Festival?
The Fall Fest is held on the 17th and 18th of September from 11 AM - 10 PM. If you’re going with young kids, get there on the early side! It’s much less crowded right at 11 am. If you love the energy of a crowd, the late afternoon/early evening is typically pretty packed. And the later evening hours are best for food/drinks and live music.
What To Expect At The Event?
The Fall Pecan Street Festival presents the largest free arts and crafts in Austin, so festival goers can expect a great selection of original handcrafted works and art galleries. The shopping component is the biggest draw to the festival for most folks. You can find pretty much anything….funky socks, cowhide coasters, unique art, jewelry, kitchen knife sets, beauty products, and more.
Aside from that, it also has a wonderful musical lineup (the stages are located on Trinity, Neches, and Red River streets on the map), mobile bars lining the street, and a bunch of festival food options like funnel cakes, kettle corn, shaved ice, tacos, lemonade, corn dogs, and more. The entire place is covered with an exciting atmosphere day and night.
And if you're wondering if you should bring your kiddos to the Pecan Street Fest, the answer is definitely yes! They offer kid-friendly activities and lots of fun food. In the past, they’ve had face painting, street magicians, workshops, a petting zoo, and more.
There are hundreds of vendors each year at the Pecan Street Fest. From clothing to jewelry, mixed media and crafts, and even pet items, expect to find a little bit of something for everyone.
A few other things to keep in mind
Parking, like at any festival, is going to be a pain. The prices were fairly reasonable several years ago, but the cost of parking has gone up quite a bit. Your best bet is to hop on the CapMetro bus, but if that’s not an option for you, try to get there early-ish in the day to park.
Also, since this is in September, it’s going to be HOT in the afternoon! Plan on getting a cold beverage when you arrive and embracing the Texas heat.