South by Southwest (SXSW) is the world’s biggest tech, film and music festival. It’s the most stimulating, enlightening and overwhelming event in the US.

SXSW, is held in Austin, Texas, it’s a city besieged by a 50,000-strong crowd attending to network, learn and party like it’s New Year’s Eve.

Get the low down on maximising SXSW experience.


Official SXSW

New friends at SXSW copy

For 10 days every March, SXSW works like a pop-up gentrification of Austin. A mass takeover where techies, marketers, producers, entrepreneurs and freeloading partygoers come to mingle, sashay and geek out.

The official way to attend SXSW is with a badge that gives you access to panels, speakers, and official events. Divided into film, music and tech/brand (interactive), select your badge based on your interest (and stamina). For interactive alone, there are over 1,500 panels and speakers over five days!

Planning is futile. Use the SXSW app to narrow down speakers but keep your options open. The distance between panel locations, event hype, and foot fatigue end up guiding your timetable decisions. Go early for any must-see speakers and expect to queue for up to an hour for the big names.


Officially unofficial

SXSW Meet Ups

SXSW Meet Ups

If you’ve arrived without a badge then it’s all about the networking and parties. There are hundreds of soirees and they’re all free! Somehow you’ll find yourself dancing on a table with a tech CEO after downing designer margaritas wondering if this is real life.

It is, but don’t overdo it.

There is nothing worse than tending a hangover through that one panel your boss demands you report back on. Check out RSVPster here and make sure you lock each event in your calendar. Forgetting you even RSVP’d is a thing here.

Twitter is your FOMO (fear of missing out) friend. Watch #SXSW for party news, giveaway hype, and cool gigs. Out of the loop means out of secret gigs, like the one Drake did last year.


Chow down

Lunch is the only meal you should be buying at SXSW. You’ll be breakfast taco’d out by the end of the week, and every party provides pizza, sliders or whatever to soak up all that free booze. During lunch, however, time is tight between panels so the food trucks dotted around downtown Austin seriously rock it.


Bags for swag

Swag Haul at SXSW

Swag Haul at SXSW

Each day you’ll need your most comfortable shoes, a water bottle, a couple of mobile chargers and a backpack with space for lots of swag, So much swag is handed to you all day, every day.


The Austin lowdown

Willie Nelson Mural, Downtown Austin

Willie Nelson Mural, Downtown Austin

In March, Austin weather is unpredictable. One year everyone is a crisp shade of fuchsia, the next it’s a sodden parade and 6c. Pack layers and an umbrella.

Book your accommodation as early as possible. If you don’t get in quickly then ditch hotels for Airbnb. Preferably your digs are walking distance to downtown Austin. No Uber and Lyft mean you’ll need to download Fasten to get around.

Get to SXSW with Delta. Last chance to book ex. SYD return from $1409. Get your SXSW badge here.

Have you got SXSW on your festival list?

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