What is SXSW? Music + Film + What To Do

festival, Austin festivals, film festival, music festival,

Down here in Texas, we’ll take any excuse to listen to good music, watch a good film, hang out outside, drink good cocktails and eat yummy food. One of the best ways we do this is South by Southwest which is also known as SXSW.

SXSW is an event held in Austin, Texas that is a combination of a tech conference, music festival, and film festival. Now let’s take a deeper dive into the history of this event, and how you can join in on the fun.


According to the official website, “in 1986 a small group of people in Austin, Texas began a series of long discussions about the future of entertainment and media. The meetings were in the offices of The Austin Chronicle, and participants were sworn to “secrecy.” The original premise for the event was based on music but quickly expanded into other sectors.

The first event, held in March of 1987, saw an expected 150 registrants swell to 700 on opening day. As hoped for, Austin’s charm won over the visitors, and SXSW took on a life of its own.

outdoor festival in Austin
Photo credit: The University of Texas


South by Southwest is held in one of the greatest cities in the world, Austin, Texas and more specifically, SXSW will primarily be held at the Austin Convention Center (ACC). The ACC is located in the heart of downtown Austin, on Cesar Chavez Sreet. That being said SXSW has tapped into a ton of other Austin spots to host performers and speakers, so make sure to check their website for more information. Need help to decide what to pack for a trip to Austin then check out our post on this topic from a while back.


I would not even begin to bother with driving because traffic is horrible and most of the streets are closed. On the bright side, there are car services (Lyft, Uber* and there’s local nonprofit rideshare service Ride Austin), electric scooters and dockless bikes if you really must**. There are buses, public transportation, festival shuttles, or just opt for walking (see below for footwear).

*If you’re new to Uber feel free to use my discount code shereef2.

**Keep in mind most electric scooters and dockless bikes are banned around SXSW.

south by southwest, south by southwest guide
The Game of Thrones cast speaking at SXSW 2017. Photo credit: Making Game of Thrones


This year, the festival is being held from March 13–22, 2020. This might seem like a long span of time, but trust me…there is PLENTY to do at SXSW and in Austin in general.


There are so many amazing musicians playing this year at SWSW and most of these bands are lesser-known, some local to the Austin area, but are sure to start a good time. Examples of artists this year include Alexander Biggs & Kate Bollinger.


Do you like podcasts? If so, this might be the place for you. There are dozens of comedic podcasts holding live recordings in Austin during SXSW. Kathy Griffin will also be performing, along with other talented comedians.

Conference Sessions

Honestly, this is the part I’m most excited about. These conference sessions feature speakers from around the country, bringing their expertise on a variety of different topics. From health and wellness to technology, advertising and entrepreneurship–the conference schedule is jam-packed with content. Some keynote speakers for these events are Brene Brown, Priscilla Chan, and Jonah Peretti.


SXSW is also a chance to see the smaller, up and coming films that perhaps haven’t made their way to the big screen. A lot of these movies are being played at locations around the city, such as Alama Drafthouse. Several competitions are hosted for films, such as Narrative Feature Competition & Documentary Feature Competition. Headlining movies TBA.

What To Wear During SXSW

Typically it is warm enough in Austin in March to wear spring dresses, denim shorts, and etc. Be sure to take a lightweight jacket (denim) and a rain slicker of some kind because the weather can change on a dime. Just make sure you check the long-range forecast to better prepare for all of the outdoor fun and by no means, don’t forget your sunscreen.

A hat, in my opinion, is a must as well as a belt bag or small backpack for hands-free comfort, but really anything goes in Austin the vibe is artsy, comfortable and always safe to dress southwest style.








For those of you who won’t be making it to Austin this year–you can still partake in the festivities from afar! Check out this website for information on how you can live stream some of the SXSW 2019 events.

And for those of you thinking about making the trip– check out this article from The Points Guy, for some of his personal recommendations. He has really great information, specifically relating to Austin travel.

Where To Eat During SXSW

Below are just a few must-try places to fill your belly!

BBQ – Franklin Barbecue

Photo Credit: Instagram @franklinbbq

Franklin Barbecue was awarded Texas Monthly’s coveted Best Barbecue Joint in Texas, and Bon Appetit’s Best Barbecue Joint in America. This is life-changing BBQ but keep in mind, show up BEFORE you are really hungry as the lines can be very long and boy oh boy, is it worth it!

Mexican Inspired – Suerte

Photo Credit: Instgram @suertaatx

This is one of the hottest spots to eat in Austin. The menu is all about masa, from suadero tacos (confit brisket and “black magic” oil), canitas tlacoyo, to tortillas a-plenty.

Sushi – Uchi

Photo Credit: Instagram @uchiaustin

If you are a sushi lover Uchi is the place to be and eat! Sake Social Hour offered daily 5-6:30 pm, but I recommend making reservations ahead even though walk-ins are more than welcome!

There are so many great eateries in Austin. Go here for more options.

Where To Stay During SXSW

Here is the list of available hotels for your stay! Also, don’t forget about the great AirBnB!

Whether you’re coming down south or watching from the comfort of your home–we hope you enjoy this incredible event. SXSW is truly a piece of Texas history, and I’m glad we can have a small part in sharing it with the world!


  • Stay tuned for our Austin, TX city guide. You need to visit this great, culturally funky town.
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