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Your ultimate guide to SXSW 2023

Are you ready, Austin?

Two people on stage at a SXSW panel

SXSW draws hundreds of thousands of visitors to Austin every year.

Photo by ATXtoday

Table of Contents

Some Austinites love the hustle and celebrity spotting that comes with SXSW, and some Austinites grumble about traffic and crowds — whichever camp you’re in, it’s undeniable that SXSW means big things are happening in ATX.

Today, we’re breaking down the festival’s impact on the Capital City and giving you a guide to getting the most out of it. Stay tuned: we’ll also be releasing guides to locals at SXSW and how to do SXSW for free.

🏙 Impact

SXSW is not actually one festival: it’s several.

The event — which takes place from Friday, March 10-Sunday, March 19 this year — includes conferences on a range of topics in addition to interactive exhibitions and a comedy, film, and music festival.

The amount of people who come to Austin for SXSW is usually in the hundreds of thousands, with more than 278,000 attendees in 2022. The economic impact on the city is substantial, ranging between $218 million-$355 million per year over the last decade.

🎙 Conference sessions

Much of the programming at SXSW is panels, speakers, and keynotes categorized into tracks based on subject area. Here are some must-see sessions we’re keeping our eye on:

Note: Access to programming depends on the type of badge you have — check “Badges” under each event to see if your pass allows entry.

Featured Speaker: Eva Longoria | Saturday, March 11 | 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin | The actress, director, producer, and activist chooses projects based on how they represent underrepresented communities.

Killing John Smith: Indigenous Women Storytellers | Saturday, March 11 | 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Austin Convention Center, 500 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin | Princess Daazhraii Johnson, Shaandiin Tome, and Jessica McEver will evaluate representation of Native women in media.

Futuring Food Systems: A Seat at the Chef’s Table | Sunday, March 12 | 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. | Austin Marriott Downtown, 304 E. Cesar Chavez St., Austin | Canje chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph will join Tiffany Derry, Adrian Lipscombe, and Gerald Sombright to evaluate challenges and opportunities facing food systems.

  • Track: Food
  • Badges: Music, Platinum, Interactive, Film & TV

What is the Future of US Housing? | Monday, March 13 | 2:30-3:30 p.m. | Hilton Austin Downtown, 500 E. 4th St., Austin | Austin-based ICON will examine home prices and improving housing attainability at this panel.

Featured Speaker: Ben Lamm | Tuesday, March 14 | 4-5 p.m. | Hilton Austin Downtown, 500 E. 4th St., Austin | Austinite and Colossal Biosciences CEO Ben Lamm will discuss how technology can help “future-proof” the world.

  • Track: 2050
  • Badges: Music, Platinum, Interactive, Online, Film & TV

See the full conference schedule.

Jared Leto signing things for fans

SXSW premieres are often a star-studded event.

Photo by Rich Fury/Getty Images for SXSW

🎬 Film Festival

Between world premieres and competitions, there’s plenty to see at this year’s SXSW Film & TV Festival. Here’s what we recommend:

Film premieres

  • Dungeons and Dragons: Honor Among Thieves | Friday, March 10 | 6 p.m. | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave., Austin | See Chris Pine, Michelle Rodriguez, and Hugh Grant star in this film based on the classic role-playing game.
  • Problemista | Monday, March 13 | 9:30 p.m. | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave., Austin | Follow along as Alejandro struggles to design toys in New York City before his work visa expires in this film written by Julio Torres and produced by Emma Stone.
  • Joy Ride | Friday, March 17 | 9 p.m. | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave., Austin | This film starring Ashley Park and Sherry Cola tells the story of four friends taking an international adventure.

Television premieres

  • Love & Death | Saturday, March 11 | 12 p.m. | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave., Austin | Austinite Jesse Plemons and Elizabeth Olsen star in this this HBO crime drama.
  • I’m A Virgo | Saturday, March 11 | 5:45 p.m. | ZACH Theatre, 202 S. Lamar Blvd., Austin | Follow along this “radical coming-of-age joyride” of a 13-ft-tall Oakland man.
  • American Born Chinese | Wednesday, March 15 | 3 p.m. | The Paramount Theatre, 713 Congress Ave., Austin | Michelle Yeoh and Ben Wang star in this new series about high school sophomore Jin Wang and his parents.

🎶 Music Festival

It’s not a festival without some live music. We have a roundup with local artists coming soon, but here are some other acts we’re excited for:

  • The Orielles | Monday, March 13 | 9 p.m. | ACL Live, 310 W. Willie Nelson Blvd., Austin | The indie group’s newest album, “Tableau,” uses jazz, electronics, and experimental tape loop methods.
  • The Lemon Twigs | Tuesday, March 14 | 10 p.m. | Cheer Up Charlies, 900 Red River St., Austin | This New York-based rock band’s newest album, “Everything Harmony” will be released in May.
  • The Zombies | Wednesday, March 15 | 11 p.m. | Stubb’s Waller Creek Amphitheater, 801 Red River St., Austin | Pro tip: You can also see this iconic pop band for free as part of SXSW’s Community Concerts at Lady Bird Lake.
  • Armani White | Thursday, March 16 | Time TBD | Moody Amphitheater, 1401 Trinity St., Austin | This hip hop artist’s happy sounds will be part of Billboard’s THE STAGE lineup.

🎤 Comedy Festival

The lineup for this year’s SXSW Comedy Festival has not yet been announced. However, big names such as Kumail Nanjiani, Nick Kroll, and Yamaneika Saunders have previously performed.

🖼 Interactives and exhibitions

Everybody knows some of the best parts of SXSW can be exploring interactive exhibits. Check out these installations popping up during the fest:

🎟 Badges breakdown

Badges for SXSW range between depending on level of access. An all-out platinum badge can run you $1,895, while an online pass — which allows you access to all recorded events — costs $199. Check out the full price list here.

That said, you may be able to see some events for free if you register to volunteer at the festival. To earn a badge, you may need to work a minimum of 40 hours and be at least 16 years old. See the full requirements.