South by Southwest is just around the corner, and this year brings some major changes to the renowned festival. Whether you’re a local or here for a 10-day whirlwind, here are some things to keep in mind for SXSW 2017.
1. Badges have changed.
The most important thing to note is some good news: Interactive, Film, and Music badges now give you more access. For example, whereas previously, an Interactive badge was only relevant to the Interactive portion of the festival, it will now give you secondary access to music showcases and film screenings (of course, a Platinum badge allows primary access to all SXSW events). Need more details? Here’s a badge comparison chart.
2. Hot new tracks have been released.
SXSW has revamped their schedules to incorporate conference tracks that cover a variety of subjects through a particular lens. The 24 tracks, from Government and Journalism to Branding and Music Industry, make it easy to pinpoint and plan for relevant sessions.
3. Uber and Lyft are not available in Austin.
If you are from out of town, the two major ridesharing apps left Austin last May after a contentious vote. In their place, the major players are Fasten (the official rideshare company of SXSW), Fare and homegrown nonprofit RideAustin. SXSW will also have shuttles running during the festival, and of course, there’s always Hail a Cab and Capital Metro.
4. Plenty of mentor sessions.
Returning this year is the opportunity to schedule one-on-one time with experts in various fields. From the creator of PolitiFact to documentary filmmakers to healthcare investigators, there’s a mentor for all types, so check the schedule and RSVP early to secure a spot.
5. Refuel at SouthBites.
While we stand by our restaurants guide to avoid crowds, the food trucks at the SouthBites Trailer Park (corner of Rainey and Driskill streets) are a convenient option that feature some of Austin’s signature dishes. For local favorites, try Japanese-influenced East Side King or creative cold treats from Lick (the vegan flavors are particularly tasty). Award-winning visitors like The Waffle Bus from Houston and The Happy Lobster from Chicago round out the delicious roster.
6. Major events are MIA...
Large, free events like Hype Hotel, The Illmore, Spotify House and others will not be around this year. With the vacuum left in their place, The Austin Chronicle predicts smaller parties will get bigger crowds, meaning more attention for bands on the rise. (The free shows at Auditorium Shores will be back, though, including a Prince tribute featuring Wyclef Jean and members of Prince’s band the Revolution March 17.)
7. ...but it’s time to get excited!
World movie premieres including Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver with Jon Hamm and Jamie Foxx, Terrence Malick’s Song to Song with Ryan Gosling, Rooney Mara, and Michael Fassbender, and James Franco’s The Disaster Artist. Featured speakers include U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy, Mike Posner, Van Jones, and Marie Kondo. Game of Thrones stars and showrunners will be here, and Garth Brooks will keynote in conversation with the vice president of Amazon Music. It’s time to start organizing your calendar, because SXSW is almost here!