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Your 2016 Guide to Art Events & Festivals

It’s festival season!

Okay fine, I say that year round. But with good reason! We’re living in a festival golden age. A list of all noteworthy fests in Austin alone would stretch longer than the bathroom lines at Coachella.

To help ease the burden of choice, we’ve put together a short list of festivals that have been the talk of the town among Patreon creators. The selections are pretty diverse in genre. Yet a common thread is that each recommended festival offers unique chances for artists to get in on the action.

So let’s get festivus. And if we happened to skip over an event (or hundreds?), please share your suggestion in the comments! We’d love to read up and see you there.


The Game Developers Conference has grown from an informal gathering in some dude’s living room to a week-long event of more than 26,000 participants. Programmers, artists, producers, game designers, audio professionals and others in the game dev business gather to network, share ideas and provide insight into the future of gaming.

What’s new this year: The Career Center at GDC 2016 will supplement conference activity with career development sessions programmed by GDC and top vendors. Also, a VR developers conference will be held alongside the main conference.

Dates: March 14-18, San Francisco, CA


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This fantastic independent media expo embraces alternative comics, webcomics, underground zines and graphic arts. Sponsored by Eisner-nominated comic book store Austin Books , has quickly become a prime destination for professional and up-and-comers alike. This year’s guests include Benjamin Marra, Danielle Corsetto, Gena Ha, and Emily Carroll, among others.

Festival Highlight: A panel of Patreon creators who will be sharing their experiences using Patreon to fund their projects.

Dates: March 5-6, Austin TX

Playlist Live

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Playlist Live is a three-day event where online creators and their biggest supporters come together for concerts, panels, meet and greets and bevy of other interactive activities. If you live, work, or play in the YouTube space, Playlist qualifies as a can’t miss event.

Festival Highlight: Business Day takes play on Friday, April 22 and is a full day of programming dedicated to the industry of YouTube and online video.

Dates: April 22-25, Orlando, FL
Sept. 2-4, Washington, DC

Austin Food + Wine Festival

The Austin Food + Wine Fest is a collaboration between C3 Presents (producers of Lollapalooza and Austin City Limits) and some of Texas’ most celebrated chefs and restaurateurs. Expect tastings, grilling demos, cocktail seminars, and live music. In the open air. In Austin. In the springtime. Need I go on?

Festival Highlight: Over 40 hands-on cooking demonstrations that include kitchen secrets and war stories straight from the nation’s top chef talent.

Dates: April 22-24, Austin, TX

Iowa Summer Writers’ Festival

This year marks the 30th anniversary of the famed writing festival. ISWF is more a series of intensive workshops than a traditional festival, with sessions on craft, process and style in every imaginable writing category. Despite the abundance of offerings, time is still carved out for folks to get to know other writers, converse with teachers, and explore the quaint charm of the Iowa City.

What’s new this year: Three workshops that focus on full-length manuscripts—memoir, novel, and screenwriting—as two-week experiences.

Dates: Late June/Early July, Iowa City


Now in its 46th year, Bumbershoot is one of the largest music festivals around. It’s also one of the most underrated. In order to preserve the authenticity of the festival, organizers continue to showcase many regional and emerging talents in addition to headline acts. The One Reel Film Festival, held within Bumbershoot, celebrates independent short films.

How to get involved: Landing a slot at music fests is notoriously tough,but we wouldn’t be a musicians if we discouraged easily, would we? Send in your stuff!

Dates: Sept. 2-4, Seattle, WA

Sausalito Art Festival 

This ain’t your momma’s art-walk.

Well, it kind of is. But it’s also yours. The festival has something for everyone, boasting a dynamic range of international fine-art, sculpture, ceramics and mixed media. If world-class artwork isn’t enough, the location, Sausalito’s scenic waterfront, makes for an undeniable experience. SAF attracts 30,000 art patrons annually.

How to get involved: Apply by March 1st to be a showcased artist at the festival.

Dates: Sept. 3-5, Sausalito, CA

Los Angeles Podcast Festival

LA PodFest is all about unmitigated access. Over the course of 3 days attendees are able meet and hang out with their favorite podcasters and performers. The mantra of the fest is “No filters, no gatekeepers, and no rules.” LA Podfest seems to have perfected the balance between group activity and intimate engagement.

Festival Highlight: SquareSpace Podcast Lab, a central hub where podcasters can go to record their own podcasts in the middle of the festival grounds. Just make sure to bring your gear!

Dates: Sept. 18-20, Los Angeles, CA

Filter Photo Festival 

Filter affords photographers unrivaled opportunity to connect with renowned curators and gallery directors from around the country. Workshops, lectures, exhibitions and artist talks are all part of the weeklong celebration.

Festival Highlight: Portfolio reviews are a central component of the festival. Participants can sign up for face-to-face reviews and receive candid advice about their work, as well as information on getting their photographs exhibited and published.

Dates: Sept. 22-26, Chicago, IL

There it is, folks! Make sure to share your event suggestions in the comments. And If you’ve recently returned from a festival and are feeling inspired, start a Patreon page and get creating. ‘Tis the season!