BatFest - Night of the Bat Festival in Austin, Texas

by CountrySunshine

Travel in June to the Ann Richards Congress Avenue bridge in Austin, Texas to watch thousands of bats emerge from under the bridge during the BatFest celebration.

Each August, over 40,000 spectators gather at the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge in Austin, Texas to celebrate the nightly feasting of the Mexican free-tailed Bat. The world's largest urban colony, with approximately one and a half million bats, the Congress Avenue Bridge bats emerge at dusk to the delight of the crowds.

Bats, music, arts and food are just some of the things offered at BatFest in Austin. And the best thing about it? Admittance to the festival, and viewing of the bats, is free!

Where is BatFest?

BatFest is held on the Ann Richards Congress Avenue Bridge, just a few blocks from downtown Austin. To get there, you can either take a city bus, ride your bike, and drive your own car.

The city bus is the cheapest and easiest way to attend. You'll be able to find a good, free parking place, then ride the bus right to the festival.

If you'd like to ride your bicycle, racks are available at the festival where you can secure your bike.

Parking is available at a number of lots for a fee. Keep in mind that several thousand people will be attending, so parking places will be few and far between.

Bats emerging from the Congress Ave bridge in Austin, Texas
Bats emerging from the Congress Ave b...

What Is BatFest?

BatFest is a family-friendly event held in and near downtown Austin, Texas. While the bats emerge each evening between March and November, a Saturday is set aside each August for a full-blown celebration! It's a free, fun activity to enjoy while visiting Austin, Texas.

During the afternoon, vendors set up booths on top of the Congress Avenue bridge to showcase their arts and crafts. You'll see everything from pottery to metal sculptures; paintings to stained glass; jewelry, mosaics and everything in between.

Batfest in Austin, Texas
Batfest in Austin, Texas

Other entertainment includes music by a number of bands; a children's play area, and a bat costume contest. The winner of the costume contest walks away with a $200 cash prize!

As dusk approaches, festival attendees set up their lawn chairs or spread out blankets, waiting for the Mexican Free-Tailed Bats to emerge from under the bridge. Depending on weather conditions, this occurs somewhere between 7:00 and 8:30 pm, and can last up to 30 minutes!

Mexican Free-Tailed Ba
Mexican Free-Tailed Ba

Bat Facts

The Mexican free-tailed bat is native to the Americas. It averages about 3 ½ inches in length, and weighs less than half an ounce. It ranges in color from light brown to gray.

The bats live in North America during the months of March through November. When the cooler weather begins to set in, they migrate to their winter homes in Mexico and South America.

These bats eat insects, and a lot of insects at that! The Austin bat colony eats up to 15 tons of bugs each night. Their insects of choice include: mosquitoes, moths, beetles, dragonflies, house flies, wasps and ants.

Did you know?

The Mexico free-tailed bat is the official "State Bat" of both Texas and Oklahoma, and the official "Flying Mammal" of Texas. It is also the official logo of Bacardi rum.

Mexican Free-Tailed Bat - Bacardi Logo
Mexican Free-Tailed...

BatFest Rules - What To Bring, and What To Leave At Home

  • Bring a lawn chair or blanket on which to sit
  • The weather will be warm, so make certain to wear a hat and sunscreen.
  • Although the bats eat plenty of mosquitoes, you might want to bring along some mosquito repellant
  • Ice chests are allowed, but may only be filled with ice. Drinks - both alcoholic and non-alcoholic - are available at the festival for purchase, along with food.
  • Bring your camera to take photos of the festival, bats, people and whatever other interesting sights you may see.
  • Pets are allowed, as long as they are on a leash.
  • And, as always, leave your weapons at home or in your vehicle.

Need More Information?

To learn more about BatFest, the City of Austin, and bats in general, visit the links below:

  • BatFest Event Information
    Official website for BatFest and Roadway Productions. Festival information, parking, entertainment schedule and contact information are available here.
  • Austin Visitors Guide
    Official website for Austin, Texas. All the information you need to plan your trip to BatFest! Lodging, restaurant and activity information all in one place!
  • Free Things To Do In Austin, Texas
    While you're in town for Batfest, check out these free and fun things to do in Austin!

What do you think?

Do you like bats? Some people might think bats are creepy, or that they suck blood. I think they are interesting creatures, and am all for honoring them at BatFest.

Updated: 09/29/2015, CountrySunshine
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WriterArtist on 12/20/2014

This looks like an interesting event. People gathering to see such an event and that's why we have heroes like Batsman and Batswoman.

AngelaJohnson on 12/18/2014

I live in San Antonio so that's not far from Austin. I'm marking this on my calendar.

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