Even for veterans, the festival feels like a different beast from year to year, with new bands and different ways of experiencing the music. To keep you festival-goers happy and on top of your game, CultureMap has pulled together the top five tips on what's in store for you at this year's festival.
Enhancements to wristband credentials
The best news for one-day attendees is the opportunity to have a wristband, allowing for everyone to come in and out of the park as they please. This was not the case before, and it has led to thousands of disheartened music lovers throughout the years.
Now, with the RFID capabilities, you can register your wristband, allowing you to replace it if you somehow lose it in a mosh pit. Registering your wristband also enters you to win VIP upgrades and prizes from the festival.
Improvements to the ACL Fest 2012 app
The ACL app has been vital to scheduling the festival for years, but now you can also use the GroupMe chat function, which allows you to stay in communication with your group across the park. (Don't lose the flags or blow-up dolls, though. That's tradition.)
You can also post Instagram photos for the whole festival to see just by tagging #aclfest. And the music doesn't stop once you leave the park, thanks to the Slacker Radio ACL Fest Channel, which is streaming shows throughout the weekend.
Wider selection of Austin-friendly food and drink
The amazing food selection is one of the best parts about ACL Fest, and this year it's even better. Chi'lantro and Second Bar + Kitchen are two of the new additions to the ginormous food tent area, which already features Mighty Cone, Mandola's, Seedling Truck and Salt Lick.
Additionally, reflecting Austin's growing reputation as a serious craft-brewing community, the Zilker Drafthouse tent will have a huge selection of craft beers on tap.
Watch the Texas-OU game at the festival
It's a rare occurrence when the famous Red River Rivalry falls on the same weekend as ACL Fest, but this year some very hard decisions had to be made by fans of football and rock. For those who chose ACL, we salute you.
You should know that you can still watch the game on Saturday at the Rock Island Hideaway (in the middle of the festival, behind the Austin Ventures stage). Just make sure you're wearing burnt orange because this is Longhorn territory.
Watch the festival action on the web
If you didn't get tickets, don't fret too much. Although you won't get to experience the artists in person, you can basically get a front row seat in the comfort of your home by tuning in to the ACL Fest YouTube channel. This official webcast happens in real time, filmed onstage with the performers, so you don't have to miss a moment of the action.
It's easier than running from stage to stage while two of your favorite acts are performing at the same time (like, ahem, Friday night).
Those are the biggest announcements for this year, so now you're in the know. If I were your mother, I would also remind you to check the weather updates every morning and plan accordingly. You might need a poncho and sunscreen on the same day if this weather keeps up.
Go now. Have fun. Be safe. Wear earplugs. Come home at a decent hour. Make good choices. You know how we worry about you.