Free Week is an annual Austin festival for all ages where local and regional musicians perform across the Red River Cultural District‘s many live music venues. It’s an opportunity to provide additional revenue to musicians and staff during the industry’s slowest season. Attendees not only get to enjoy some live music but also support their local entertainers. This year’s Free Week event will take place January 6-9, 2022.
What Is Red River Cultural District (RRCD)?
The RRCD is a district located in downtown Austin along Red River Street that boasts the single largest concentration of live music venues in the city. With its diverse variety of local music, art, and food options, the district has developed into a reliable and consistent source of income and creative support for musicians of all types, giving tourists and locals an authentic Austin experience. If you’re in search of some entertainment in Austin, RRCD has events happening just about every day!
Now a 501(c)(3) charitable organization, the RRCD was officially created in 2013, and 7 years later, the Texas Commission on the Arts formally recognized the area as a cultural district, being one of few that are formally recognized in the state. It is currently managed by The Red River Merchants’ Association to encourage cultural tourism.
The Red River Merchants’ Association consists of more than 40 local small businesses in a variety of industries, including live music venues, lifestyle, entertainment, hospitality, lodgings, and more. Some of their businesses include the Austin Symphony Orchestra, First Baptist Church, German-Texan Heritage Society, and Waterloo Greenway.
What Is Free Week?
Free Week started in 2003 at Emo’s, a popular music and event venue on 6th and Red River St. The event first took place in the winter, during the entertainment industry’s slowest season as a way to bring in traffic. This one-venue festival quickly grew into a movement, and 18 years later, venues from Austin to Nashville participate in Free Week with tens of thousands attending the live music shows and events.
Free Week generally takes place over the first weekend (four days) of the year. Free Week 2022 is tentatively scheduled for January 6 – 9, 2022.
While the RRCD puts on the event with help through fundraising, policies, marketing, and event direction, the event and booking talent is a community collaborative effort through RRCD’s Events Committee. All performances are a part of a partnership with RRCD’s equity partner EQ Austin. They have aided with capacity building by developing recommendations and training that provides an equity lens and criteria for booking and hiring practices.
Stay on top of Free Week updates on the website as well as the Red River Cultural District Facebook page.