Let’s Go Fly a Kite: The Zilker Kite Festival


Spring is in the air. Which means that in Austin this weekend, kites will be too! The Zilker Kite Festival is one of Austin’s favorite springtime events. Usually held the first Sunday in March, this year’s festival was postponed due to the unseasonably cold weather, and will take place this Sunday, March 9th. The event is free and open to the public and is a great springtime activity for the whole family. Because, honestly, who doesn’t love kites?

Zilker Kite Festival

Photo courtesy of the Austin American-Statesman

In its 85th year, the Zilker Kite Festival (originally called the “Kite Tournament”) was created by The Exchange Club of Austin in 1929 with the mission of encouraging creativity in children. In 1936, The Exchange Club partnered with the City of Austin Parks and Recreation Department to bring the event to newly-opened Zilker Park, which is still the home for the annual event.

The festival continues to be presented by The Exchange Club of Austin, which is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to the prevention of child abuse. The group encourages good citizenship, community service, and uses the Zilker Kite Festival as a way to bring attention to the mission of the nonprofit. To find out more about The Exchange Club, visit The Exchange Club of Austin website.

Zilker Kite Festival

Photo courtesy of the Downtown Austin Alliance

The Kite Festival begins at 10 a.m., and at 11 the Kite Making workshop, registration for the kite contest and kite flying demonstrations by professional fliers begin. The afternoon of fun continues with the kite contest launching at 1 p.m., and hours of free-range flying. Categories for the kite contest include: highest angle kite, steadiest kite, strongest pulling kites, smallest kite, most unusual kite, largest kite and mass kite ascent.

The festival will host several booths for food, crafts and other services. Check out the entire list, which includes local Austin favorites such as Amy’s Ice Creams, Daily Juice, Hat Creek Burgers and more. The vendors will be open for the entirety of the Zilker Kite Festival, so when all that kite flying activity wipes you out, nutritious local Austin food can revive your energy levels for many more hours of kite-flying fun!

Prepare for the Zilker Kite Festival by buying or creating your own special kite and viewing the map of the park for the event.  More information can be found on the festival’s Facebook page and on their website. The festival accepts volunteers for the event and donations to continue the growth of the event and the associated nonprofit. So check it out – and let’s go fly a kite! Up to the highest heights!

You knew it was coming at some point, didn’t you?

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Zilker Botanical Garden’s Annual Zilker Garden Festival


The first Saturday and Sunday of April, April 6th and 7th, the Zilker Botanical Garden hosts its 56th annual Zilker Garden Festival, which offers Central Texas and Austin residents the perfect introduction to spring. The family-friendly event takes place amidst the beautiful 30-acre Zilker Botanical Garden grounds, which are located near Lady Bird Lake on a diverse topography that is well-suited for showcasing different the types of native, hybrid and exotic plants that thrive in the climate of Central Texas. Themed gardens – such as the Rose Garden and the Japanese Garden – are sprinkled throughout the facility, and are interconnected with streams, waterfalls and Koi-filled ponds, which create a peaceful, serene environment for enjoying nature, wildlife and the great outdoors.

Plum Creek, TX

The Zilker Garden Festival is the Zilker Botanical Garden’s most high-profile and anticipated annual event, and all proceeds support the Zilker Botanical Garden. The event is co-sponsored by the Austin Area Garden Council and the City of Austin Parks & Recreation Department.

Highlights from the Zilker Garden Festival include gardening talks and information sessions, shopping and food offerings, as well as an array of kid-friendly events and activities. Additionally, live music is available both days of the Garden Festival from local Central Texas artists from the likes of Harps of Many Colors, The Better Halves, and The Siekers, among others.

An array of garden talks and other information sessions from local flora and fauna experts are available at the Garden Festival as well. Topics range from “Care for Drought Stressed Trees” to “Rainwater Harvesting” to “Cacti & Succulents,” so festival-goers can receive a wide-range of area-specific information about Central Texas gardening from local, knowledgeable gardening experts.  These informational garden talks are included in the Festival as a part of the City of Austin’s Grow Green program – which promotes sustainable landscaping practices by addressing hot button topics such as water quality and conservation, recycling and sustainable pest control. Additionally, an array of vendors from across Central Texas will fill the Zilker Botanical Garden the two days of the Garden Festival to sell a variety of plants and garden-related items, including garden-themed arts and crafts, ceramic pottery, jewelry and herbal products, baskets, birdhouses and colorful garden benches, among others. These items, along with the informational gardening talks, create the perfect recipe for gardening success this spring!

Plum Creek, TX

Additionally, a Flower Show in the Zilker Botanical Garden Center with three special exhibits – featuring Bonsai, Cactus and Orchid plants – will showcase the best local horticulture in the area and will be judged by 6 accredited judges. This is the 55th annual Zilker Flower Show, hosted by the Violet Crown Garden Club and the Capital City Judges Council, which has been in existence since April 1958. Now, that’s a lot of flowers.

For the kiddos in your family, the Zilker Garden Festival features a number of kid-friendly events and activities in their Kid’s Corner as well. Here, the young ones can get their face painted, build their own birdhouses or bird feeders, make butterfly wings and masks, and will receive a free plant to take home and grow themselves. Additionally, the City of Austin will host an array of children’s activities in the Rose Garden, and near the “Faerie Homes” on the Escarpment Trail.  There will also be food products available at the Garden Festival, from the likes of Amy’s Ice Cream, Crepe Crazy, and Texas Tradition BBQ, among others, who will offer spring food items for your Garden Festival experience.

Plum Creek, TX

For more information about the Zilker Garden Festival, including location, activities and features, please visit the Zilker Botanical Garden website. And happy gardening!

Central Texas Guide to Wildflower Season


Tis the season for wildflowers. And we sure live in the right place for them, don’t we? Every March and April, Central Texas becomes a little more beautiful, and a LOT more colorful, as wildflowers bloom in the green spaces along the highways and hills of the state. Of course, wildflower season varies from year to year (based on the weather and rain conditions), but with TxDOT  literally distributing over 300 pounds of wildflower seeds across the state each year, there’ll be plenty of natural eye candy for you this spring. So, to help you make the most of the wildflowers this season, we’ve compiled a list of some of the best places for viewing them in Central Texas. But, really, the best way to experience the phenomenon is to hop in the car and wander around for yourself until you stumble upon a hidden gem.

Plum Creek, TX

In Fredericksburg, Willow City Loop is one of the most popular wildflower destinations in the Hill Country. The 13 mile drive meanders through some of the oldest and most unique geology in Central Texas; so naturally, the chiseled terrain is beautiful any time of year, just especially breathtaking in the spring. The two-lane road winds through the area’s canyons and hills, and offers stunning views of the landscape, as well as the area’s meadows, fully ablaze with color. Also in Fredericksburg, Hwy 965 on the way to Enchanted Rock offers prime wildflower viewing as well. Plus, the road takes you out to Enchanted Rock, which, in-and-of-itself is worth the drive.

West of Austin, Marble Falls and Burnet offer additional areas for experiencing the beauty of Central Texas’ wildflowers.  Located on Lake Marble Falls, just five minutes away from Lake LBJ, the wildflowers in Marble Falls are perfectly complemented by the area’s water offerings as well. While in the area, be sure to stop in at the Bluebonnet Café in Horseshoe Bay – a fitting place to fuel your eyes and your gas foot for the colorful adventure you’ve embarked upon. A short drive away from Marble Falls, Burnet is another beautiful wildflower destination in the area. In fact, it is officially recognized by the Texas legislature as the Bluebonnet Capital of Texas. For other prime wildflower viewing in the area, check out Park Road 4 off Hwy 281 between Burnet and Marble Falls. You won’t be disappointed. And, while on Park Road 4, be sure to check out Longhorn Cavern State Park, which offers visitors an incredible underground and above ground cave experience.

Plum Creek, TX

If you’d rather experience the wildflowers on foot this year, the Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center and Wildseed Farms are incredible places to experience some color. Both places feature acres upon acres of open green (and multi-colored) space for exploring, and they also play host to various special events and activities throughout the year. Check out each of their websites for more information about their upcoming wildflower-related events and activities for the whole family.

Plum Creek, TX

If this isn’t enough wildflower info for your taste, TxDOT’s website is another great resource for wildflower information, including best places and times for viewing, as well as detailed descriptions of where to find the best spots this season.  With over 800,000 acres of open highway, more than 5,000 species of wildflowers and 30,000 pounds of seeds distributed each year, there should be plenty of beauty for you to experience and enjoy.

Ways to Get Ready for Spring in Central Texas


lkv-wildflowerblog

Photo courtesy of Austin American-Statesman

It’s almost March, which, in Central Texas, means that spring is on the horizon, or, honestly, already here. This March, get your home, your yard, and your mind ready for the season, and all the fun things there are to do here in the area.

The most oft-talked about spring activity is the dreaded spring cleaning. But, really, it doesn’t have to be THAT bad. Open the windows to let in the fresh cool breeze and the spring sunlight, bust out your favorite Pandora radio station (something upbeat and inspiring to get you dancing with that broom) and get to cleaning. Of course, the degree of clean depends on your personal preferences, but wouldn’t it be nice for your home to start fresh and new, like the flowers and the plants that are about to bloom?

Remember, there are some small tasks you can do that make a big impact, like giving your front door some love (a fresh coat of paint, perhaps), cleaning your windows inside and out, adding some fun-loving color and prints to your home (like on the fridge) and putting out a colorful, spring welcome mat. And, when you’re done, you can light a spring-smelling candle as the cherry on top of your fresh, clean home. Up in Austin, Lights Out Candles and Soy Delites offer local, organic candle options to your home will smell clean AND local!

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of The Daily Green

The next step in spring preparation is usually the yard. As the cold slips away into warmth, our front and back yards typically need a little more love than they did the past few months, and it often requires some additional effort to get everything back in green, healthy mode. Get the boring, tedious tasks done first – pruning, mulching, and clearing gutters – so you can spend more of your time planting flowers and landscaping instead.

There are some wonderful local nurseries in the area that can provide you with the perfect colors and complements to your soon-to-be mowed, fertilized and green front yard. Wildseed Farms in Fredericksburg, for example, is one of the largest plant nurseries in Central Texas. They grow both “hard to find” tropical trees and shrubs, and local, native plants like Bluebonnets, Indian Paintbrushes and Laura Bush Petunias. And, on your way out there, if you wait a few weeks, you might be able to see the wild versions of these plants out on the sides of HWY 290. In Austin, the Barton Springs Nursery has a robust selection of native and well-adapted plants for Central Texas weather as well; and, they aim to be more than a nursery, but also a place for information, guidance and entertainment. The nursery is located on three and a half acres, complete with groves of Live Oak trees, a Parakeet atrium, a toy-filled sandbox and flourishing ponds with fish and turtles galore, so the whole family can be entertained while shopping for flowers for the flowerbed.

Plum Creek, Texas

Photo courtesy of J Peterson Garden Design

KLRU’s Central Texas Gardener offers some excellent tips for gardening in Central Texas too, so if you’re stumped on how to care for your new plants they’re a great resource. For those interested in planting a vegetable garden for the spring, Texas Gardener has a free weekly email newsletter with gardening tips and information, and the A&M Horticulture Department is a nice resource as well. The A&M webpage is really robust, and has gardening fact sheets and gardening guides for virtually every veggie out there!

Perhaps the most important “spring cleaning” activity, though, is cleaning YOURSELF (and we don’t mean literally). Just like January 1st, the spring is a time of new beginnings, as the flowers bloom and the weather changes, and with all the spring cleaning and organizing you’ll be doing, why not clean and organize your body and your brain too? It’ll be warm enough for you to bust out that bicycle, do some morning yoga, or get out on Plum Creek’s hike and bike trails. Revamp your wardrobe. And make some goals. What do you want to accomplish this spring and summer? Think about it, plot it out on a calendar and get going! And remember, there’s going to be so much going on this spring and summer in Central Texas that you should add some events and activities to that goal list. Stay tuned to Go20 for information about some of these upcoming opportunities. Happy Spring, everybody!