An Unofficial Beginner’s Guide to SXSW 2016

Photo courtesy of Kevin Krejci via Flickr Creative Commons (
Photo courtesy of Kevin Krejci via Flickr Creative Commons (

We all know that Austin is growing every day. The U.S. Census Bureau reported last year that Austin is the fastest growing metro area in the state and 11th most populous city in the country. South by Southwest (SXSW) itself already brings crazy amounts of traffic from out of the city every year. With Austin being a hub for live music, art, film, and tech, it’s no surprise that SXSW has grown bigger since its start in 1987.

Article by Catherine Gonzales, Dana Summers, and ChinLin Pan

So much goes on during SXSW that it’s no surprise you’ll learn about something new that pops up every day (or every hour), such as meetups or the latest parties. It’s easy to get overwhelmed, so we have pooled our knowledge of past SXSW experiences to give you quick advice and tips on navigating this year’s SXSW.

Photo courtesy of Counse Broders via Flickr Creative Commons (
Photo courtesy of Counse Broders via Flickr Creative Commons (

Before SXSW, be sure to:

  1. RSVP on Facebook and EventBrite to all events and parties you want to attend
  2. Check the weather every day! One year, the weather seemed to fluctuate every day from nice weather to freezing to pouring down rain.
  3. Plan which panels you want to go to beforehand, day by day, so you don’t waste anytime or miss someone you want to see.
  4. Charge your phone at 100%
  5. Charge your DSLR camera at 100%
  6. Plan out the entirety of your days: mark down the panels, concerts, or screenings you absolutely want to attend. If you happen to miss a screening, you can always catch the next.

What to pack:

  1. Water bottle
  2. Sunscreen (for when you’re out in the sun all day)
  3. Portable phone charger (you KNOW your phone will die at some point)
  4. Wallet with your ID and cash
  5. A lightweight jacket
  6. Earplugs (for when it gets crazy loud and your ears just need a break)
  7. A spare SD card for your DSLR camera (in case your first SD card gets full)
  8. Hand sanitizer

What to wear:

  1. Comfortable shoes (because you’re gonna walk everywhere and stand in long lines)
  2. Sunglasses (for the days when you’re standing out in the sun all day)

Pro tips:

  1. The film lines will be long so get there super early, especially for popular films.
  2. Have your phone ready to take a picture if you’re doing a meet-and-greet with a celebrity. I knew someone who missed out on a selfie with Seth Meyers because her phone was on her lock screen instead of the camera and he dismissed her.
  3. Bring your business cards, even if you’re not at SXSW to network. You never know who you will meet!

We hope this unofficial beginner’s guide comes in handy. Have fun at SXSW and follow us on Twitter @shuffleonline, @things_catloves, @isitdanaordonna, @chinlinpan, and @pnyeguy.

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