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Arts + Lifestyle

Six Unique Ways To See April's Total Solar Eclipse In Austin, Texas

Quirky Austin, Texas, is one of North America’s few urban centres set to experience the total solar eclipse.

One of 2024’s most spectacular astrological phenomena is set to occur in the North American skies this spring: on 8 April the moon will obscure the sun, leaving just its corona visible in a rare total solar eclipse. The narrow path of totality will cross over parts of Mexico, the United States and Canada, and you won’t get the chance to see another on this continent until 2044. 

Austin, Texas, is one of the few cities that lies directly in the path of totality — on brand for a place whose slogan is “Keep Austin Weird” — and is celebrating appropriately. The peak of the eclipse will take place at 1:36PM, with the city centre set to experience one minute and 46 seconds of total eclipse, while parts of the neighbouring picturesque Hill Country will experience the totality for over four minutes. And, no matter your interests (eclipse aside)– be it spa days, wine tasting, festivals or more – Austin is likely to have an eclipse-viewing event to suit.

How To Experience The Total Solar Eclipse In Austin

For The Budding Astronomer

Eclipse afternoon is spent at Becker Vineyards, which should be dotted by the region’s technicolour spring wildflowers.

Join purveyor of discovery and knowledge, Smithsonian, for a fittingly eye-opening five-day exploration of Austin and the surrounding countryside in its tour, Solar Eclipse 2024: Astronomy and Nature in the Texas Hill Country. Your sojourn kicks off with local astronomers and a “star party” under the crescent moon during your stay in a Tuscan-style villa retreat. But that’s just the start of your education. An afternoon is spent with the Department of Astronomy at the University of Texas, which is one of the United States’ top-ranked astronomy programmes. Here you’ll be privy to some of the latest research on cosmology and the evolution of galaxies and stars — there may even be a chance to get a closer look at the sun through their solar telescope. Eclipse afternoon is spent at Becker Vineyards, which, when not shrouded in the darkness of the totality, should be dotted by the region’s technicolour spring wildflowers.

For The Spa Lover 

Photo by James Baigrie

Wellness retreat Miraval Austin is where you’ll want to be to pair pampering with sky-watching. The Total Aries Solar Eclipse stay gives access to the resort’s usual vast menu of wellness activities as well as a number of other well-paired experiences. During the eclipse, Miraval’s astrology specialists will lead guided viewings, or you can experience a special meditation that takes advantage of the heightened connection between the mind, moon, body and earth during this astrological event. In the days leading up to the eclipse you can sit for an astrology reading, learn about your lunar energy or get a spiritual astro forecast, while a Celestial Supper with wine pairings on 7 April will take place in the property’s Sensory Garden.

For The Foodie Family

An oasis of calm right at the city centre, Four Seasons Hotel Austin is putting together a Celestial Celebration with its award-winning culinary team. Texas is known for its decadent meats, and Four Seasons’ gourmet spring barbecue picnic will be laid out to give a good taste of what a Texan feast is all about. Set on the property’s verdant back lawn along the shore of Lady Bird Lake, this is a great choice for families, with other activities taking place throughout the afternoon such as live music, an interactive photo booth, tarot card readings, kids’ entertainment and a Lunt Hydrogen-Alpha Solar Telescope through which you may be able to glimpse sun spots and solar flares. Expert astrophysicist Ryan Hennessy will be serving as the master of ceremonies.

For The Oenophile

A surprising fact is that Central Texas’ Hill Country, just beyond the borders of the city of Austin, is the United States’ second-largest wine region — and it’s also best positioned for a lengthy total eclipse lasting nearly four-and-a-half minutes. Dedicated not only to good wine, but also animal conservation, you can watch the eclipse alongside southern white rhino, Blake, at Rhinory’s Total Eclipse of the Horn. Along with all-day private access to the winery and its selection of Texan and South African-sourced wines, the event also includes catering from acclaimed Egyptian-Texan barbecue, KG BBQ. “Reserve” ticket holders will walk away with a limited-edition bottle of Eclipse Rhinory Malbec.

For The Festival Goer 

An otherworldly experience — the Texas Eclipse Festival — will be taking place over 5–9 April, and features a vast programme of over 300 performers and participants that take this above and beyond your typical festival for a “Burning Man meets SXSW meets TED Talks” vibe. Bringing together space, art, music, technology and wellness on a 1,500-acre ranch, there’s much more beyond the six stages of music to explore. Panels will feature scientific experts, nine female astronauts will be in attendance, as will Dr. Sian Proctor, whose goal it is to bring art into space. In the category of art, this festival will have plenty of immersive creative experiences to discover, including renowned art collective Meow Wolf who is working on a Texas-themed surprise. Holistic well-being workshops make for another focus, with acro yoga and meditation on the menu.

For The Rocker

No trip to the so-called “Live Music Capital of the World” is complete without rocking out — and New York group Vampire Weekend is playing a special afternoon show during the eclipse. Grab a seat or lay out a blanket on the lawn of the Moody Amphitheater at Waterloo Park and listen to the indie band play as the sky gradually darkens, before the sun’s corona makes its much-anticipated appearance around the moon. In addition to hearing some of the band’s aughts and early ‘10s favourites, such as A-Punk and Hannah Hunt, this is the perfect opportunity to catch them performing their just-released new singles from their upcoming fifth album; Only God Was Above Us is releasing just days before the eclipse on April 5th. Stick around Waterloo Park after the show to explore its hiking trails and garden spread across 11 acres.

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Lead image credit: Smithsonian

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