A Guide to Austin’s Best Festivals
Been-there tips to help you get the most out of Austin’s best festivals.
South by Southwest (SXSW)
South-by is a week-long festival at the beginning of March that occupies the entire downtown area. With thousands of performers and over 100 venues, the key to having a good time at South-by is to plan ahead. If you don’t plan ahead, you might accidentally miss the show you desperately wanted to see. (And subsequently, you might have to settle for watching a subpar dubstep show at a venue that offers free warm beer. Yikes.) Though known primarily for it’s music festival, South-by is actually a three-in-one package. The interactive festival gives you an inside look at technology of the future. Experts in the field deliver presentations about digital creativity and entrepreneurship. If you’re not moved by technology and you’d rather hear famous people talk, then go to the film festival. Influential names in film are interviewed and asked to shed insight on film as both an industry and an art-form. In addition, film screenings are hosted to showcase the best of the best of story-telling.
With all that excitement packed into one week, it’s no wonder South-by is an expensive ordeal. BUT – it doesn’t have to be. The great thing about South-by is that so many shows and day-time parties are completely free. A lot of them even offer free food and beverages. I saw one of my favorite solo artists, Kimbra (featured in Gotye’s hit “Somebody That I Used To Know”) a few years ago for free. I also got to see The Shins play that year without spending a single dime. Whether you attend all the festivals or just one (or even if you just mooch off of the free stuff, which is what Austinites do) South-by is one of those bucket list events that everyone has to partake in at least once in their lives.
- Create an itinerary. Map out what you’re going to do each day.
- Book your hotel months in advance because rooms fill up quick.
- Pack tank-tops AND a winter jacket. Texas weather is fickle during the limbo between winter and spring.
- Avoid intoxicated maniacs.
- Keep your eye out for celebrities. They’re everywhere, hiding beneath huge aviators. A couple years back, a friend of mine was bummed about having to work during South-by until P. Diddy walked in and asked if it was cool that he didn’t make a reservation. She told him it was cool.