SXSW first weekend
February 27, 2010 8:30 AM   Subscribe

I'll be passing through Austin on Sunday, March 14. Should I try to come in on Friday March 12 so I can see some of SXSW?

I have a conference in College Station from March 15-19. For various reasons I'll be flying into the Austin airport and driving. I could come in as early as Friday night instead, if seeing some of SXSW that first weekend is a good idea.

Are accomodations going to be ludicrously expensive? Is it possible to get tickets for individual events/days? Is there something less vast than the SXSW event listing where I can find out what's happening on the days I'd be around? (Bonus if you can make suggestions as to which specific showings/panels might be fun to go to!)

So basically should I come into Austin for the first weekend of SXSW, or skip it and go straight to College Station?
posted by nat to Travel & Transportation (6 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
Nat - Been here in Austin for many years, and have done SXSW Music many times. I have little experience with film or interactive, but the Music festival doesn't start until the next week. (wed to sun). It's too bad you won't be here the following weekend, because the amount of totally free stuff you can see is insane. Trust me, I do not exaggerate. It used to be that the SXSW powers-that-be would not let bands performing at their festival do anything except their "official showcases" - meaning you could only see the SXSW bands performing at their designated slots and times in the evenings, at designated SXSW venues, if you purchased a badge or wristband or tickets. Now that they have given up on that, there's tons of bands playing all over town, every day during the day, sometimes in multiple locations during the week, and also at night, for nearly zero dollars.

I don't mean to get you down about missing the music stuff, if that's what yer after; just thought I'd post info for anyone else who might be wondering about this question. You may also want to peruse the Yelp Austin talk threads about SXSW this year for more info.

I have never attended the film festival so I can't tell you much about that, and interactive was kinda dull for me - somebody who does not really work in online business. Those both start and finish mostly before music gets started aroud the 17th.

bon voyage!
posted by bitterkitten at 9:07 AM on February 27, 2010

Bitterkitten is right that you won't be here for the music part. You can get tickets to some individual film screenings, but it's hit-or-miss and can be pretty pricey. You will have to wait in a very long line. Decent accommodations in Austin during SXSW are nonexistent unless you book months in advance, or have a friend to crash with.
I don't have any clue about interactive.
Honestly, I wouldn't bother with it. I wouldn't even bother with it for the music fest if it was just for one day. I've been to SXSW every year for the past 8 or so. (Yeah, I'm jaded). The airport is going to be bad enough on that Friday.
posted by ishotjr at 9:33 AM on February 27, 2010

Ish - nowadays, not so. Music just for one day is worth it, still. You could see twenty bands that day, probably for nothing, if you follow the 'free day show' scheduling. Usually that doesn't really crank up until Thursday though.

Hotels, true. There's always Couchsurfing, though.
posted by bitterkitten at 10:16 AM on February 27, 2010

As mentioned above, SXSW Interactive and Film will be going on during that first weekend. As far as I know, you can't participate at all in Interactive without a badge. You can buy individual tickets to films, if there is room left in the theater after all badges and passes have been seated. Tickets are $10 cash. If you want to try to do this, your best bets will be at the larger theaters (Paramount and some Alamo Lamar theaters), and you will need to get there 45-60 minutes early to wait in line. Even then, it's a crapshoot.

There will also be parties happening that weekend. Here is a decent list. You can RSVP in advance for most of them, but there's still no guarantee of getting in.

Finding a hotel will be a problem. The airport will be a nightmare. If it were me, I wouldn't change my travel plans for this.
posted by donajo at 12:16 PM on February 27, 2010

Go through Austin and check out what you can. Even if you're just there for a day. College Station won't be nearly as interesting. :)
posted by jeffamaphone at 12:36 PM on February 27, 2010

I'm not going this year (boo!), but I've gone to more SXSW's in the past than I can even count. You will have a hard time finding a room that is at all convenient to downtown at this point, but it isn't impossible. Staying far from downtown, like by the airport or something, is a drag. So I'd say start by looking for a room to see if going is even an option.

If you do find a place to stay, you might want to consider also at least getting an interactive badge. Like others said, you can (maybe) get into some films without a badge, but there's not much on the interactive side that will be available to you without a badge. And the interactive parties are lots of fun. If you're a beer drinker, you'll be able to offset a good portion of the badge cost by loading up on free beer.

And if you can get there on the 11th, you can go to the MeFi Meetup.
posted by spilon at 1:13 PM on February 27, 2010

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