The eve of another South by Southwest festival is upon us, and if you’re new to the area, you may or may not be familiar with this ever-growing, multifaceted festival that showcases the best in music, film, and technology. This year, the festival is celebrating its 30th anniversary, so you can expect the party and festivities to be even bigger, bolder, and brighter than ever. From March 11 to March 20, Austin’s downtown will be transformed into a bustling hub of infectious energy emitted by guests from around the world. The streets will be packed with pedestrians, roads will be closed, airports will have immensely long lines, and hotel rooms in the area will be few and far between.
If you’re planning on attending the festival this year, here are a few tips from previous attendees that will help you get the absolute most out of your time.
1. Plan Your Transportation Ahead Of Time
Getting around Austin during the festival can be a challenge, not just for you, but also for everyone in the city. Try to take public transit or ask a friend for a lift if you can. This won’t just help you get to the festival faster, but you also won’t have to worry about congestion or trying to find parking somewhere close.
2. Download The Festival App & Plan Out Your Events Before You Go
The festival app, SXSW Go, is your personal guide to everything the festival has to offer. On it, you can create a My SXSW Profile, which will allow you to manage your badge, receive personalized event recommendations, see in real-time what events are taking place, create your own schedule, meet likeminded individuals through shared interests, and see what’s going on near you. With over 6,000 events to choose from, the best way to maximize your experience is to plan it out. That said, leave yourself some time to be spontaneous, and choose quality events over trying to fit as much in as you can.
3. Carry A Charger For Your Phone
Your phone is going to constantly be in use, whether it be using the app, taking pictures, updating your status, or networking with a potential client, it’s all going to be a drain on your battery. Be sure to pack an extra cable and mobile energy pack to give your phone an extra boost to make it through the day.
4. Interested In The Interactive Side Of Things? Make Time For Networking
The SXSW is much more than your average music festival. Here, you’ll discover new music, independent films, new technology, and have the unique chance to meet the creative faces behind it all. If you’re attending any of the Interactive speakers and panel discussions, be sure to fit in some time to attend a Meet Up, check out a party, or visit the lounge, to meet and network with other professionals you might not otherwise have the chance to meet.
5. Stay Hydrated
Seriously. It probably sounds obvious, but it is very easy to forget to drink water throughout the day, especially if you’re enjoying some adult beverages at the parties. Let loose and have fun, but don’t let it hinder your ability to learn, connect, and experience all of the energy and opportunity that SXSW has to offer, or you may regret it later.
6. Pack Accordingly
Shorts and t-shirts are probably not the ideal attire for SXSW, unless you’re just checking out the music side of things. Keep in mind that Austin’s weather is typically warm this time of year, but anything could happen. When thinking about what to wear, keep in mind that you’ll be meeting potential clients, networking with new faces, hopping between showcases, checking out a concert, and likely doing a ton of walking. Wear comfortable shoes and maybe even pack a second pair, just in case. A fun yet semi-casual outfit will do, and you can always pack a change of clothes for later if you prefer. Here are some other key items to make sure are in your bag:
7. Have Fun, Be Open-Minded, & Get Involved
For many, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Whether you’re visiting for work or personal interest, just always try to remember to stay in the moment and make the most of it that you can. A festival like this can be over-stimulating, overwhelming, and stressful, but if you take a minute to relax, look around, and allow yourself to feel the energy around you and take part in opportunities as they arise, then you’ll come out of the SXSW feeling fulfilled and totally refreshed.
Have other tips for festival goers? Leave us a message in the comments below!