South by Southwest, known as SXSW, is an infamous annual gathering of art, music and film lovers enthusiasts in the creative hub of Austin, Texas.
This renowned 6-day jamboree combines the networking and educational appeal of a conference with the endless entertainment of music, film, gaming and comedy acts.
The inaugural festival of SXSW was in March of 1987. The founders expected a maximum of 150 attendees, and were shocked to discover a head count of around 700.
Since then, it has steadily grown to a world-renowned festival that draws some of the biggest acts from every corner of the globe.
The latest headcount for SXSW came up with nearly 30,000 music festival attendees, over 30,000 interactive arts participants, 17,000 film buffs, and over 150,000 people attending other parties and exhibits.
This year, SXSW will be taking place March 12-18. This year’s event will be bigger and better than ever, and promises endless education and entertainment. Read on for your guide to the perfect 2018 SXSW experience.
What to See
The SXSW conference is ideal for creative entrepreneurs. Covering topics ranging from branding and marketing to social impact, you’re guaranteed to find valuable information to take home with you.
Pro-tip: Choose an interactive, film, or music industry educational track for a more specific curriculum.
The speakers at this year’s SXSW conferences include:
- Journalist, award winning documentary filmmaker, and entrepreneur Nonny LaPeña
- Academy Award nominee and writer and director of film mother!, Darren Aronofsky
- Author and national correspondent for The Atlantic Ta-Nehisi Coates
- Global Head of Music at YouTube Lyor Cohen
From business to art to wellness, SXSW features 10 different interactive exhibitions for creative of all different kinds to enjoy:
- Trade show: Get to know projects by over 300 creative businesses and organizations from around the world.
- Gaming Expo: Sample newly-released and soon-to-be-released games and enjoy bumping elbows with gaming industry legends.
- South bites Trailer Park: A celebration of Austin’s legendary food truck culture. Enjoy sampling delicious bites from the best food trucks in the country.
- SXSW Marketplace: For fashionistas of all backgrounds. This aesthetically pleasing exhibition features the latest fashion trends that you can purchase on site.
- Wellness Expo: Cleanse the mind, body and spirit at the Wellness Expo. Learn about the latest holistic health hits like CBD products, energy healers, and wellness retreats.
- Flatstock 65: The American Poster Institute showcases the best concert poster artists and their work.
- Job Market: Connect with other creative professionals around the world and find opportunities for collaboration.
- Spotlights: Divided into 3 topics, or “spotlights,” these mini-exhibitions provide time for more intimate networking. Choose from music, technology, or cities.
- Virtual Cinema: A futuristic showcase of the best virtual reality films.
- Art Program: Art and technology collide in this innovative exhibition that displays the role of visual arts in culture, technology, and the public realm.
SXSW festivals are divided by creative medium. You can choose to attend one or all of the SXSW sponsored festivals including comedy, music, interactive, art and gaming.
The festivals at SXSW aren’t limited to performances, either. Take some time to partake in networking parties, awards ceremonies, and film screenings as well.
Where to Stay:
Conferences and festivals can be just as exhausting as they are exhilarating. Enjoy luxury lodgings at one of these accredited locations to ensure a good night’s rest.
The Westin Austin Downtown has all the amenities you need for some SXSW R&R. Don’t worry about missing out on out on your workouts thanks to the 24 hour fitness studio.
Looking for more relaxation? Take a break in the heated rooftop pool and lounge.
Be sure to book your room at the Four Seasons Downtown Austin quickly so you can enjoy the exclusivity of one of their 33 luxury suites. Each suite includes a spacious living room and views of downtown Austin and Ladybird Lake.
Their in-house restaurant, The Trio is the perfect steakhouse to get a genuine Texas grill experience. Choose from a delectable menu of steak, seafood, and top quality wine, all while enjoying the view of Ladybird Lake through the floor to ceiling windows.
Not a hotel person? There are plenty of unique, comfortable and luxurious VRBO’s (Vacation Rental by Owner). Choose the home that suits you best with over 30 different settings to choose from.
If you’re bringing friends or clients, try out a house for the week like this gorgeous 5 bedroom near downtown with all the amenities, including a lit patio for outdoor experience and a washing machine to keep your conference clothes fresh.
Where to Eat
How to Get There
Now that you’ve mapped out your plans for the perfect SXSW experience, it’s time to book your trip!
Thousands of attendees from around the world will be flying to Austin to take part in the festivities. Kick off SXSW rested and ready to rock by skipping the draining airport process entirely and booking a private flight to arrive in style >