Now that we've settled into the first 48 hours of 2018, we're feeling pretty good about what's in store for the new year. And it's not just our as-of-yet unchallenged optimism that's talking. This year is an exciting one for Austin, from the revival of old music festivals to new art installations from renowned artists to multiple food halls in a city that previously didn't have any. Check out what we're looking forward to the most this year—and be sure to tell us what you can't wait to see in 2018.
1. Austin's first food hall—actually, two of them. Fareground opens on January 18, and with a venue lineup that includes Dai Due Taqueria, Ni-Komé, Easy Tiger and more, we're looking at a solid place to find lunch downtown. Then there's Market Eatery, a Korean food hall from H-Mart that also opens in mid-January. Here you'll find Sunday Bird (Korean fried chicken), Sunday BBQ (Korean BBQ), Maru Maki (sushi), Snow Monster (Taiwanese shaved ice, boba, waffles), Seoul Sausage (Korean BBQ and street food) and Lai Lai (Chinese food), among others, plus beer, wine and sake.
2. "Austin" comes to the Blanton. The late abstract artist Ellsworth Kelly submitted his first and only building design to the Blanton in January 2015; now, three years later, the 2,715-square-foot glass building is finally complete. It opens in mid-February, and will be accompanied by the exhibition Form into Spirit: Ellsworth Kelly’s Austin.
3. SXSW 2018. Yeah, we know, every year it gets bigger and harder to manage. But we still feel a sort-of giddiness when the fest, held on March 9-18, rolls around, and with a slew of excellent speakers (keynotes this year include Darren Aronofsky, Ta-Nehisi Coates, Barry Jenkins and Esther Perel), new additions (like the Cities Summit) and fantastic musicians, we're still counting down the days.
4. Levitation Fest is back. The psych-rock festival makes its triumphant return on April 26-29, this time jamming out at a number of downtown venues over four days. Snag tickets to see The Black Angels, Slowdive, Ty Segall, Dan Deacon and a host of acts at this much-missed favorite.
5. Some pretty sweet hotels are opening. Both The Fairmont and the Line Hotel are set to open downtown in the first half of 2018. At the 37-story Fairmont, which will be the city's largest hotel when it opens, guests will be able to enjoy five restaurants and bars, a spa and a pool among other amenities. At the Line ATX, which is replacing downtown's Radisson Hotel with a $75 million makeover, 428 guest rooms will accompany an artists’ residency program and gallery, two restaurants, a bar and a coffee bar.
6. Hot Luck Festival is back. Last year's inaugural food and music fest was enough of a success that it's coming back for another round, and tickets are already on sale. While the chef and artist lineup hasn't been announced yet, there's no reason to miss the May 24-27 shindig. BBQ + bands—’nuff said (and while we're on the topic of food fests, we're also looking forward to the Austin Oyster Festival, Austin Food & Wine Festival and the Texas Monthly BBQ Fest).
7. Some seriously great restaurant and bar openings. Listen—we know places close just as frequently as they open in Austin, and we said some tearful goodbyes in 2017. But if 2018 is all about new beginnings, then we're hungry for places like Guild (mid-January), Peli Peli (Spring), Bird Bird Biscuit (Spring), The Brewer's Table, Sour Duck and more.