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What is South by Southwest (SXSW)?

With over 161,000 attendees, South by Southwest (SXSW) is one of the largest music festivals in the world. The event takes place every March in Austin, Texas, and features musical acts from around the globe. SXSW first began in 1987 as a way to showcase local talent and has since grown into an international event that attracts some of the biggest names in the music industry.

In addition to music, SXSW also features film screenings, interactive panels, and art installations. The festival has something for everyone and is a great way to experience all Austin offers. If you're considering attending SXSW, here's everything you need to know.

South by Southwest (SXSW)
What is South by Southwest (SXSW)?

South by Southwest (SXSW) is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences annually in Austin, Texas, United States. SXSW began in 1987 and has grown in scope and size every year.

The centerpiece of SXSW is a music event that features over 2,000 musical acts from around the globe performing in more than 100 venues throughout Austin. The SXSW Film Festival showcases new independent films and documentaries worldwide. The interactive conference is a gathering of digital creatives featuring keynote speeches, panels, and workshops on various topics related to technology, design, and business.

Where is South by Southwest Located in Austin?

The conference is held every year in Austin convention center, Texas. You can fly to the Austin-Bergstrom International Airport (AUS). If you’re driving, it’s about a 2.5-hour drive from Houston and a 5-hour drive from Dallas. It has grown to become one of the world's largest and most influential conferences, focusing on tech, film, and music. Every year, it attracts some of the biggest names in these industries and hundreds of thousands of attendees from all over the world.

How Long is South by Southwest?

Whether you're interested in tech, music, or film, you'll surely find something that piques your interest. The timeline for music is different than that of the other two tracks, so be sure to plan your trip accordingly. The conference generally lasts 10 days, with the interactive track lasting for five days, South by Southwest music for seven days, and film for nine days.

If you're looking to catch up on the latest and greatest in tech advancements, you'll want to attend the interactive portion of SXSW. This is when industry leaders worldwide come together to discuss new ideas and technological developments. You can expect panels, keynotes, and demonstrations during this time.

When is South by Southwest Typically?

SXSW generally falls on the second week of March, also the University of Texas at Austin's spring break. The festival also usually includes St. Patrick's Day. However, the specific dates do vary from year to year.

Also, those who avoid the crowds note that SXSW Interactive runs from Friday through Tuesday of SXSW week, while SXSW Music runs from Wednesday through Sunday.

Divisions Of SXSW

There are three primary divisions of SXSW: Music, Film, and Interactive.

Music: The South by Southwest (SXSW) music festival takes place over seven days and features performances from artists at different venues around downtown Austin. In addition to showcasing established artists, SXSW is also known for providing a platform for up-and-coming musicians to perform and gain exposure. 

Film: The film portion of the festival runs for nine days and showcases a variety of independent films from around the world. In addition to screenings, there are also panels and workshops on various aspects of the filmmaking process.

Interactive: The SXSW interactive festival is focused on emerging technologies and features a variety of panel discussions, demos, and networking opportunities. This is where you'll find some of the most innovative companies, and individuals in the tech industry gathered in one place.

How Much Are South by Southwest Tickets Typically?

The pricing for a badge to attend SXSW Music is typically around $1,695. For SXSW Film, a badge costs around $1,895, providing access to all screenings. And for SXSW Interactive, the badge pricing is usually about $1,395. If you are interested in attending any of these events, it is important to note that the earlier you purchase your badge, the cheaper it will be. Prices will continue to increase as the event date gets closer. Also, it serves as a launchpad for new products and ideas. So, don't forget to pack your business cards for an event focused on exploring the cutting edge of technology and digital culture.

How Many People Attend South by Southwest?

More than 161,000 people attended South by Southwest in 2018, including over 107,000 registrants for the music festival portion of the event. That number is expected to grow as the event continues to expand. What started as a small music festival in 1987 has grown into one of the world's largest events of its kind. SXSW brings together people from all walks of life for a week-long celebration of music, film, and technology.

It is a unique event that brings together people from all walks of life. Whether you're interested in seeing up-and-coming bands, attending panels on the latest tech trends, or simply enjoying the festival atmosphere, SXSW has something for everyone. With over 161,000 people in attendance, you can expect long lines and large crowds everywhere you go. Be prepared to walk (a lot) and be patient when waiting in line for anything.

What To Bring to South By Southwest (SXSW)?

No matter what your plans are for South by Southwest (SXSW), there are a few things you should always bring with you. Here is a list of essential items to help make your SXSW experience the best.

  • A Good Pair of Walking Shoes: SXSW is a huge event that spans many city blocks. You will be doing a lot of walking, so comfortable shoes are key.
  • A Portable Phone Charger: Your phone will be your lifeline at SXSW – you’ll use it to stay in touch with friends, navigate the festival, and document your experience. Make sure to bring a portable charger to keep your phone charged throughout the day.
  • Sunscreen and Sunglasses: Austin is known for its sunny weather, so don’t forget to pack sunscreen and sunglasses.
  • A Reusable Water Bottle: Stay hydrated by bringing a reusable water bottle. There are many water-filling stations around SXSW, so you can easily refill your bottle as needed.
  • Snacks: With all the walking you’ll be doing, you’re bound to get hungry. Pack some snacks to help tide you over until your next meal.
  • A Backpack or Crossbody Bag: You’ll need a place to store all your belongings, so be sure to bring a backpack or crossbody bag to hold everything you need comfortably.
  • A Jacket or Sweater: The weather in Austin can be unpredictable, so it’s always a good idea to pack a jacket or sweater just in case.
  • Your Badge: Don’t forget your SXSW badge. You won’t be able to enter any of the events without it. Also, be sure to keep your badge visible at all times.
  • An Open Mind: SXSW is a unique event offering something for everyone. Keep an open mind, and you will surely have an amazing time.


What Is The Point Of South By Southwest?

South by Southwest, or SXSW, is a set of film, interactive, and music festivals and conferences that take place every year in Austin, Texas. The event started in 1987 and has since grown exponentially, attracting attendees from all over the world.

For many, it’s an opportunity to network and build relationships with like-minded individuals from all walks of life. It’s also a chance to check out some amazing up-and-coming talent in the music, film, and tech industries. And, of course, it’s a great excuse to party for a week straight.

Can You Go To SXSW For Free?

Yes, you can attend the unofficial showcases for free. While But the vast majority of shows and talks require a badge for entry. It will grant access to all music shows, southwest film festival screenings, and most of the interactive talks and panels.

Who Attends SXSW?

People of all ages and from all walks of life attend SXSW. However, most attendees are young professionals in their 20s and 30s who work in the music, film, or tech industries. Also, many people come from out of town or even out of the country to attend the event.

What Is There To Do At SXSW?

There is a lot to do at SXSW. In addition to the official music, SXSW film conference, and interactive talks and panels, there are also unofficial showcases, parties, meetups, and more. You can find something to do 24 hours a day during the weeklong event. Also, since Austin is such a vibrant and lively city, there are plenty of things to do, even if you’re not attending SXSW.

How Do I Get Around During SXSW?

The best way to get around during SXSW is by walking or biking. However, many people also take advantage of Austin's public transportation system, which includes buses and trains. Taxis and ride-sharing services like Uber and Lyft are popular options for getting around during SXSW.

What Should I Wear To SXSW?

There is no dress code for SXSW, but most people dress casually. It can get quite hot in Austin during the spring, so you may want to pack light clothing and comfortable shoes. You must bring your badge and valid ID to attend most shows and talks. Beyond that, you may want to pack sunscreen, water, snacks, and comfortable shoes. Many people also like to bring along a portable charger for their phones.


SXSW is a unique event that provides a platform for creators and innovators to come together and share their work with the world. For music lovers, SXSW is a chance to see up-and-coming bands from all over the globe in one place. For film fans, it's a chance to catch new independent films and documentaries from around the world. And for those interested in technology and design, SXSW offers a chance to learn from some of the top minds in the industry.

Whether you're attending SXSW for the first time or a seasoned veteran, there's something for everyone at this massive event. So what are you waiting for? Start planning your trip to Austin today.

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