The Best Seat in the Galaxy

By Avery Ballmann

Waco Hosts Eclipse Festival April 8

For four minutes and thirteen seconds on April 8, 2024, Waco will be immersed in total darkness with the only light being from the outline of the sun and its solar winds.

Wacoans will be able to gaze at the sun’s beauty and awe at this once-in-a-lifetime celestial event. A total solar eclipse will pass through the Heart of Texas and Waco has the best seat in the galaxy.

The Eclipse Festival

While a total solar eclipse is spectacular, the actual event encompasses only just over four minutes, and so the City of Waco has filled the weekend with plenty of activities and events leading up to the “star” of the show. Waco is preparing for quite possibly the biggest event of the century
when over 100,000 visitors from astronomers, scientists and curious tourists — with no shortage of Wacoans — will converge in the heart of Texas for the dramatic show. To accommodate all these stargazers, the City of Waco and event planners selected Baylor University’s McLane Stadium and Touchdown Alley, 1001 S. MLK Jr. Blvd., as the location for the main Eclipse Festival.

The event is a collaborative effort between the City of Waco, Baylor University, Warner Brothers Discovery and Lowell Observatory. You can read all about the science of an eclipse in our April 2023 article “Total Eclipse, Texas Style” and hear from Lowell Observatory Historian Kevin Schindler about why they chose to partner with Waco for this event in our August 2023 Q&A.

The festival begins at 10 a.m. with gates opening at 8 a.m. and the free shuttle running at 9 a.m., with pickup from Third Street and Franklin Avenue (in front of Spice Village). For visitors needing accessible parking, the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC) lot will be available —a Disabled Parking Permit is required — and there will be a complimentary shuttle running throughout the festival.

The eclipse will commence at 12:20 p.m. with complete totality peaking at 1:38 p.m. until 1:42 p.m. The eclipse itself ends at 3 p.m. Prior to the eclipse, visitors can enjoy local food trucks, science talks and demonstrations from Baylor’s science department faculty, family activities in the STEM Zone, Astronomer meet-and-greet, 20 public-access telescopes and a clear view of the eclipse along with guided commentary from expert astronomers.

The eclipse festival is only selling 15,000 general admission tickets to the public. To purchase your tickets for the festival, visit eclipseovertexas2024.com. They start at $20 for adults and $10 for children aged 5-17.

Extraterrestial Events

Some Wacoans have created their own viewing parties too. For $150, you can attend the Countryside Total Solar Eclipse located at 5763 S Third St. Road. On the day of the eclipse from 10 a.m.–3 p.m., set up your lawn chairs and watch the eclipse amongst the quietness of nature. The hosts
of this event are charging by car, allowing up to 10 people per ticket. There will be food and drinks available as well as viewing glasses. Alcohol and pets are prohibited at this event.

Cameron Park Zoo is offering a special opportunity to see how the animals react to the total eclipse. With limited viewing, get there early to also catch chats and education presentations by the animal keepers.

Though April 8 is the main event, the City of Waco has arranged several events that will lead up to the eclipse.

Friday, April 5: The Music Over Waco concert at Indian Springs Park, next to the historic Waco Suspension Bridge, is free and open to the public starting at 7 p.m.

Saturday, April 6: The City of Waco and ECS Region 12 created STEMclipse, a STEM-themed celebration. Guests will hear from scientists and participate in STEM-related activities. This event will be held at the Waco Convention Center, 100 Washington Ave. In the evening, there will be a Glow Waco 5K run.

Sunday, April 7: Visitors can indulge in the arts by attending Baylor Theatre’s production of “American Eclipse” at 11:30 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. located in the Jones Theatre. In between the theatre performances, sneak over to Waco Hall at 3 p.m. to see our very own Waco Symphony Orchestra perform a Sci-fi Spectacular concert. Hear popular tunes from the movies “Star Wars” and “Interstellar” and feel free to dress up as your favorite sci-fi character. In the evening at 7 p.m., head over to Indian Spring Park to see the Lights Over Waco.

All Weekend: Visitors can join the Mayborn Museum for some stellar exhibits. Discover what it’s like to live and work in space in the “Journey to Space” exhibit through April 21. And immerse yourself in a lunar landscape at the “A New Moon Rises” exhibit, open through May 5, where large-scale images provide a unique view of the surface of our moon’s surface. Get tickets at mayborn.web.baylor.edu.

If you couldn’t tell by all the events and experts this eclipse is bringing — this is kind of a big deal and you don’t want to miss it, especially since it’s in our own backyard. Explore space and Waco by finding where to watch this once-in-a-lifetime event.


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