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Texas Eclipse Festival offers a ‘choose your own adventure experience’ for April total solar eclipse

On April 8, 2024, a range of cities from Texas through Ohio and up to Maine will be in the direct path of experiencing a total solar eclipse. But instead of just having one day to take in the historic minutes while the sky goes dark, one festival will span for multiple days in Central Texas.

What organizers are calling a “celestial creation,” the Texas Eclipse Festival at Reveille Peak Ranch in Burnet will be an entire experience where you will not just watch the total solar eclipse in the path of totality but also have access to a series of events featuring live music, impactful speakers, and exhibits unlike anything you’ve seen before.

“It’s been compared to Burning Man and Coachella, but also with elements of SXSW and a TED conference, as well as the amazing collaborators that we’re working with from around the world that have produced similar events as well as the Oregon Eclipse Festival,” Ari Eisenstat, Space Program Director for the Texas Eclipse Fest said. “What’s really unique about this festival is the combination of music, art, technology and space together.”

Related: Where will the most crowded places be for the total solar eclipse 2024?

Let’s dig a little deeper into what else makes this unique, because what’s surprising is there will be a little bit of everything for all ages that can cater the experience in so many different ways. To start, this festival was a team effort including collaborators from 12 different festivals globally.

There will be seven different music stages as well as seven speaker stages, a kids area, lots of dancing, yoga classes, an outdoor spa, educational workshops, new age technology and art exhibits and quite the list of events that are part of the space program. In fact, you can enjoy being whisked away into the sky by the ‘Sounds of Space’ by Test Shot Starfish and also learn what it’s like being in space from those who have been there.

“I’ve been working on music as a way to casually inspire people to take up an interest in science and technology. Maybe finding out that a musician went to space opens a thread of inquiry that leads to new discoveries,” Chris Boshuizen, Blue Origin commercial astronaut who is also known as the musical artist “Dr. Chrispy,” said. “We have a great line-up of speakers and I’m excited to share news from science and space exploration with a huge audience.”

Remember the books we read as kids where you could pick where you wanted the story to go next? This will be similar as you get to build your own festival program. Although with this one, there are a lot more choices and twists and turns you can go along during the trip.

“Definitely a choose your own adventure experience,” Eisenstat said. “So you’ll really have to be intentional about where you want to be and what you want to see. It’s unfortunately going to be impossible to see everything, but there’s really something for everyone to see.”

Festival goers walk among art installations at the Oregon Eclipse Festival, Aug. 20, 2017, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell ahead of the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. (Image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Basics

As many choices as there are of what to do, you also can choose how much of the festival you want to take part of and if you want to camp, “glamp,” or stay at a hotel for the event. The nice thing is the festival coordinators put together a spot online to take care of everything you need to plan ahead for this event.

Starting off with admission, to take part you have to purchase festival tickets for a minimum of two days. As with any festival, there’s a general admission ticket or you could go for the VIP admission which includes additional perks such as private restrooms and food/drink vendors and special viewing areas near the stages.

While there will be shuttles to/from multiple locations or parking passes if you are local, there are additional options to make it more of a one stop shop being able to camp out or glamp in or go for a hotel package that includes your tickets as well. But let’s take a second to talk about camping even for those who despise the thought of staying in a tent — there are so many different options that are available that include staying in a tent, RV, car or for those like myself, several ways to glamp.

A festivalgoer wearing lighted wings listens to music at the Oregon Eclipse Festival at the Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell on Aug. 19, 2017 (Image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Lineup

Back to mentioning how you can “choose your own adventure,” you can literally make your own list of what’s important to you to take part in or experience. Organizers created a page with the lineup that includes countless featured sessions, displays, and activities as well as bios for hundreds of hosts, speakers, performers separated into 17 categories: AI, art, consciousness, environment, experiential, health, immersive experience, mindfulness, movement, music, performance, science, space, tech web3, wellness, and yoga.

“I’m excited to discuss how our vast cosmos has been a profound source of inspiration for humanity throughout history,” Roberto Carlino, a NASA Engineer said who will be participating in the event. “Furthermore, I’ll talk about the significance of exhilarating space missions, like the ones I’m actively participating in at NASA, including Astrobee and ACS3, and their role in reshaping the future of space exploration.”

The festival will kick off on April 5 hosting a “Yuri’s Night” event which celebrates Yuri Gagarin becoming the first human in space on April 12, 1961 and the first-ever space shuttle launch twenty years after that in 1981. Astronauts from both government and commercial missions including NASA, dearMoon, SpaceX, and Blue Origin will be in attendance and share their different perspectives going to and being in space.

“The festival holds a special allure for me, not only because it marks my first-ever eclipse viewing but also because of the exceptional community it draws,” Yemi A.D., a crew member for the dearMoon space mission also excited to be speaking at and attending the event. “I’ve got this funny feeling that it’s going to be like finding my tribe—people who don’t just dream about the stars but actually reach for them.”

And that’s just the first night — the days following will include more discussions, presentations, music, art, and other special features. There will be art that will be on display as well as interactive for all ages to enjoy and experience.

“We’re also so excited to collaborate with the Black Rock Observatory and the Earth Light Foundation with their dream scope projects of giving people daytime and nighttime observations through really exciting telescopes, as well as different types of rocket launch virtual reality experiences,” Eisenstat said. “One of our partners, Space Perspective, they’ll be providing the solar glasses and also some really cool virtual reality experiences of being on a capsule and seeing Earth from space.”

Festival goers dance at the Oregon Eclipse Festival, August 20, 2017, at Big Summit Prairie ranch in Oregon’s Ochoco National Forest near the city of Mitchell ahead of the total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017. (Image credit: ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images)

The Eclipse

The last time that the Texas Hill Country was in the path of totality was not in our lifetime, on May 26, 1397, and it won’t happen again until way past our expiration date on Feb. 25, 2343. So for Texans that want to experience this rare phenomena, there will be just minutes of magic for festival goers to put on their protective viewing glasses and take in a moment that for many could be once-in-a-lifetime.

“I tell people the difference between 99% and 100% is literally night and day. When it goes into that totality, it’s really unbelievable,” Eisenstat said when recalling his experience from 2017. “There’s no other natural experience like it being able to see the stars during the day, to see this ring of sunset along the horizon. It’s really coming to that realization of what these celestial objects really do and how we’re connected to them.”

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