America’s Favorite Festival in Austin: SXSW

Austin, Texas, is a go-to spot for live music anytime of the year. But it really gets cookin’ in March, when South by Southwest, or SXSW, takes over the city.

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Austin, Texas, is a go-to spot for live music anytime of the year. But it really gets cookin’ in March, when South by Southwest, or SXSW, takes over the city. Since 1986, some of the biggest and up and coming musicians take to the SXSW stages. But this festival is so much more than music — you can attend conferences, take in a few films, and rub shoulders with fellow musicians. Whatever you do, don’t miss it.

Hot History, Big Breaks

What started as a regional music event has quickly became a national event for hot artists, who now flock to the Austin Convention Center each spring. Organizers added film and digital arts in the mid-1990s, which eventually spun off into a separate conference now known as SXSW Interactive. Popular acts like Hanson and John Mayer got big breaks through their performances at this event, while films like “The Hurt Locker” debuted here. Apps like Foursquare and even Twitter made big strides due to the talk of SXSW. Folks who attend this festival often get first crack at the coolest media and art in the nation.

The side view of a male musician playing guitar on stage at night during the SXSW music festival is pictured to the left, with a bright white spotlight shining on the right in Austin, Texas

Music

Although music pulses through the roots of SXSW, today the tunes are spread all over Austin because much of the official festival focuses on technology. Of course, big music acts always make the festival itself — there are more than 160 officially scheduled acts for 2018. Electronic music takes center stage, but pretty much every venue in the city have big acts worth talking about. It can feel a little overwhelming, but, you know what they say — you can sleep when you’re dead.

The back of an older man with grey hair in a suit looks at a computer screen while presenting to a group of people in the background during a conference at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas

Conferences

Book signings, lectures, meetups, mentoring, and workshops — there is so much to learn about the music, film, and technology industries at SXSW. The conference side of things features lots of workshops worth signing up for in advance to make sure you grab your seat. Want to know about 3D printing, crowdfunding, live streaming, and how to pitch talent? This is the place. Go to learn about the next big thing.

An audience of movie-goers are pictured watching a film at the SXSW music festival in Austin, Texas

Films

It’s no surprise that a festival named as a play on Hitchcock’s “North by Northwest” would include an awesome film series. Take a break from the comedy, interactive events, music, and lectures by kicking back for a great flick. From docus to dramas, the packed film schedule has something for every SXSW-er. Halfway through the nine-day festival, there’s even an awards ceremony for the best films. Will you be one of the first to see a winner?

Blue, red, green and white lights illuminated on buildings are pictured against a black night time sky in Austin, Texas

First-Timer Tips

Seasoned SXSW veterans know to pace themselves. If this is your first year, then start planning now. Having the schedule handy will help get your days organized so you can reserve your seat for the best events as early as possible. Pack your essentials for the day and prepare for the inevitable line of traffic when things wrap up at night. Stay hydrated and dress appropriately for the weather — there’s no time to get sick with this sweet schedule of events and music.

Have you attended SXSW? Share your pictures with us on Instagram to get everyone excited for the upcoming year.

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