Note: This list is part of a much bigger collection I’ve put together of 101+ Weird and Unique Things To Do In Austin. You can find links to lists of totally different Austin things to do at the bottom of this page.
I thought it was worth separating out “Weird Austin Events” from the “Weird Austin Activities” because you might need to plan further ahead if you want to experience these. Some are weekly, some monthly, some seasonal, and some just whenever they feel like it.
(If you want to know when all the best stuff happens a year in advance, I recommend you buy the Austin Events Wall Calendar and plan ahead. Full disclosure: that’s my company. 🙂 ).
A strange and wonderful collection of haphazard and themed decorations line this street near campus in an annual Austin tradition that nearly died out a few years ago. There’s lots of detail so it’s much more enjoyable to walk it than try to see it from you car.
This organization has been adopting out forgotten and forlorn stuffed animals to qualified applicants for over a decade. Each stuffed animal (SA) has it’s own story and personality, translated to you by SARF founder Wendy Mitchell. The application process is no joke – hundreds of applications will drop on her desk sometimes for just a dozen SAs.
There are popup shows around town at places like the Thinkery and rumors of a forthcoming permanent space, but for now the best place to see them is during the 37th Street Lights show. There’s also a lot of content and explanations on the SARF’s website, thesarf.org.
An edgy, strange, usually subversive, sometimes incomprehensible performing arts festival featuring many, many performers from around the world. For Free. Some performances are in traditional theaters but many of them create one of a kind experiences in parking garages, old warehouses, private homes, bridges, and other unique locations.
An annual tour of those strange houses you’ve always seen and wondered about. Or never seen and will be surprised about. Their website alone features 100+ homes you can check out virutally and the real tour allows you to meet the owners and other like-minded tourists.
These amazing animal and insect shaped bikes live in a secluded area near downtown. Wings flap, heads move, and they get attention whenever they show up. When will they show up? The only way to see them is to go to one of their events. Check out the mind-blowing photos on their website in the meantime. Hire them for your next parade or event and let your attendees ride the zoo themselves!
Formerly the Keep Austin Weird 5k and Fest, this event evolved into “the slowest 5k you’ll ever run” with run stops such as a foam pit, obstacle course, slip and slide, donut shop, and ice cream stop. There’s also a live music festival and alcohol along the way. 15 stops in all.
One of Austin’s longest-running “weird” events (45 years!!). From very humble beginnings it has grown into wordslinging event that attracts punning pros from across the country. There’s various types of competitions, but the main event is a head to head battle in series of brackets leading up to the crowning of Austin’s Pun Champion of the World! Bring a chair, some sunscreen, and get there early to get a good spot!
#8 Creek Show
Various artists are hired to create cool nighttime installations of lights and art in a stinky creekbed downtown. Thousands of people attend every year. In 2021 the installation will move to the completely reconstructed Waterloo Park which likely will smell a lot better. It’s never as big as I’d like it to be, but it’s definitely worth checking out.
Walk around the Zilker Botanical Gardens during this favorite annual event and see if you can locate all the many places your local fairie architects have been building over the last year. They’re small fairies, so look closely!
#10 Fantastic Arcade
Fantastic Arcade is “a celebration of indie and cult videogames, hosted by The Alamo Drafthouse and curated by Juegos Rancheros”. I’ve been there and they have some of strangest, most bizarre games I’ve ever seen. One of them involved me trying to get health insurance by knocking a bunch of stuff over. Other games have included “a competitive cat petting game for two players” called “comPETition” and “Ghost Dentist VR” where you play a “ghost with a dental practice”.
Possibly the most popular event at the Wildflower Center, Fortlandia is a collection of unique forts scattered around the Center which are designed and built by local artists and architects. Touching, climbing and instagramming are encouraged.
Live comedians make fun of movies, perform skits, and have fun with the audience in these “Mystery Science Theater 3000” styled shows. Mocking and celebrating both terrible movies and popular movies, these shows can be rowdy fun (so don’t go expecting people to stay quiet). They have both online shows and live shows at the Alamo Drafthouse. Voted “Austin’s Best Comedy Troupe.” by the Austin Chronicle.
Amy’s Ice Creams’ servers are known for their serving flair – tossing and catching your ice cream around as they prepare it with whatever mix-ins you have ordered. Not all of the servers do this and some are better than others. This even is a friendly competition to see which “scoop” (what they call their ice cream slingers) will be declared the best. There’s also a team competition. Here’s a brief history and some videos of the event.
This is the granddaddy of all Austin weird events (or at least the longest running one at 57 years!) and attracts a large crowd at Pease Park. There’s costume contests, vendors, drum circles, live music, more drum circles, and a lot of people doing their own thing. Plus drum circles.
While there are official Eeyore’s things happening at the day-long event, it has a very informal vibe of people hanging out, playing in drum circles as I mentioned, and just kicking back with friends in the park. It maintains a very loose association to its namesake, Eeyrore the chronically depressed donkey from A. A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh stories.
Austin’s most popular eccentric 25-piece marching band, Minor Mishap brings their own brand of hijinks to a winter solstice parade. Bring a lantern of your choosing and join in the magic they create in this fun parade.
There’s wresting, there’s Professional Wrestling, and then there’s Party World Rasslin. I think their website says it best: “The performances combine physical comedy and absurdist premises with heartfelt stories and characters. It’s a DIY undertaking comprised of performers, volunteers, and artists.”
What does that mean? It means talented wrestlers, computers fighting dinosaurs, character backstories that rival Middle Earth, characters with names like “Mad Bladder”, bouts such as “Pastaman vs. Hot Dog” and side entertainment like “Live Surgery with Gary The G.O.A.T”
This event features SPAM cooking contests, SPAM eating contests, SPAM throwing contests, and SPAM costume contests. This was one of Austin’s original weird events, but it was on hiatus since 2007. In 2019 it returned for the first time in 12 years, then in 2020… pandemic. There are plans for it to return again in 2021. Fun fact: there are 15 flavors of SPAM, including pumpkin spice. My experience at SPAMARAMA has been that there’s usually only the one main flavor, SPAM-flavored SPAM.
This all improv, all genre, 10-25 piece jam and performance band experience has been playing Austin shows for almost a decade. You never know what you’re going to get. Usually danceable, always interesting to watch, the band has had everything from multiple theramins to tap dancers, harpists, clarinets and horns, percussion, rappers, singers, howlers, and one time brought a trampoline. Current and past players have also been part of White Denim, Neko Case, Ralph White, and other local and national bands. Fun!
Only open sometimes and not much at that, but when it is it’s an amazing place to hang out and explore. Keep an eye on their facebook page and elsewhere for movie showings and other parties. Their website makes it look more like a photoshoot venue, but it’s way more.
I once played guitar at their show with two other guitarists. We pulled guitar strings back and forth over our guitar strings for 30 minutes. It’s that kind of show. Weird sounds, far our artists, loads of experimentation. If that’s your jam then this is the place for you.
#21 Bat Fest
A unique festival on Congress Avenue bridge. Bat drinks, bat costumes, and a curious collection of bands play this annual tradition. One year Flock of Seagulls played and I wondered if that was the closest to a “bat” named band they could get. Another year they booked the Toadies. Is this an animal thing? I don’t know but hope so. Some years they’ve had the batmobile from the Batman TV show of the 60s.
Dance in the dark with others – without judgment and without all the other less appealing aspects of going out dancing. “Proven to make you feel better!” and part of a larger movement you can read about here.
Want more weird, unique, and unusual stuff to do in Austin?
There was too much to write about on one page so split it up into related categories to help you find what you need faster:
- Weird Austin Activities. These are things you can do almost any week of the year.
- Weird / Unique Austin Bars and Restaurants.
- Unique Austin Things To Do. Unique to Austin but not necessarily weird.
- Unusual Austin Things To Do. Unusual but not unique to Austin and really not that weird (but still cool).
- Overrated / Closed / Illegal Austin Attractions.
Too many lists for you? See a summary of all 101+ Austin Things To Do here!