On my last night of SXSW, a group of friends had a fantastic suggestion – a trip to the Rodeo Austin. Now, I must admit, I’d never been to a rodeo before, but after that unforgettable evening, I’m certainly looking forward to going back.
The Austin Rodeo, also affectionately known as the “Austin Livestock Show and Rodeo,” is an annual extravaganza that unfolds in the heart of Austin, Texas, typically in the month of March. It stands proudly as one of the largest and most beloved rodeos in the entire country, drawing in thousands of eager visitors every year.
What’s the draw, you might wonder? Well, Rodeo Austin isn’t just about bull riding, steer wrestling, and the classic rodeo events (though it has plenty of those). It’s a full-fledged celebration of Texan culture and entertainment. Picture this: a lively carnival, electrifying live music performances, a captivating livestock show, and a host of other family-friendly activities that make it an event for everyone, not just rodeo enthusiasts.
Now, if you venture about 40 minutes north of Austin, you’ll find Rodeo Austin – a venue that takes the whole rodeo experience up a notch. Throughout March and April, Rodeo Austin hosts a series of evenings that seamlessly blend rodeo excitement with live concerts. On the particular night we chose to attend, the headliner was none other than Ludacris. Yes, you read that right – Ludacris at a rodeo! I couldn’t name a track of his but it was certainly entertaining!
For my friends back in England, imagine a Texas-sized version of ‘Newmarket Nights’ or a similar event, and you’re in the right ballpark.
When we arrived, we may have missed out on the opportunity to ride the big wheel or witness the little ones trying their luck on sheepback, but we dove straight into the heart of the action. For the next two unforgettable hours, we watched in awe as cowboys and cowgirls fearlessly tamed bucking broncos, took on furious bulls, and raced their horses around barrels. What made these spectacles even more exhilarating was the perfect synchronization with an epic soundtrack. Picture this – a cowboy riding a bucking bronco as the Rolling Stones’ “Start Me Up” blared triumphantly through the sound system. It was a sight to behold. Oh, and the fact that they’d bring cans of beer right to your seat may have been been a factor in the enjoyment.
As a keepsake of this incredible experience, I put together a quick video to share the sights and sounds of Rodeo Austin, hoping to convey just a fraction of the excitement and energy that fills the air during this Texan tradition. So, for anyone visiting Austin or looking for a uniquely Texan experience, I wholeheartedly recommend marking your calendar for Rodeo Austin. It’s more than just an event; it’s a thrilling celebration of Texas, music, and cowboy spirit all rolled into one unforgettable evening under the Lone Star State sky.
(the Rodeo image is from their official poster, which I love and hope it is OK to share!)
For the newbies, like me you can easily get to Rodeo Austin from downtown Austin. All the major ride sharing companies will take you there and pick you up at the end of the night. We bought tickets the day before so there was some availability left. If you booked earlier I am sure you could get better seats, or pay more and sit over the pens where the cowboys and cowgirls settle in before going to the ring. My seat was about $40 which I thought was a bargain! You had a clear view from every seat and they brought cold beers to buy from your seat! The staff were awesome. I had a Laura Dern lookalike who explained the rules and scoring and made sure I was enjoying the show.
Ludacris was great. A little random if you ask me, but hey! I think that was the only concert I’ve ever been to and not know a single song. I couldn’t even sing along or pick it up! Still a great night though.
The Rodeo was just one of the great experiences I had at SXSW 2018.