SXSW Guide 2013

South by Southwest Festival
March 8
- March 17, 2013
Austin, TX

For the longest time, Austin has been considered “weird,” made up of flower children, wannabe rock stars, college students, laidback artists, and even a handful of yuppies. But it hasn’t always been big. So, when the South by Southwest Music Conference and Festival debuted in 1987, well before Austin’s population ballooned to 800,000 people, the goal was to introduce talented local musicians to the rest of the world.

By 1994, South by Southwest wasn’t just about music anymore. And it wasn’t just about Austin, either. It was an international gathering of professionals in the music, film, and tech industries (as well as their enthusiastic fans). Today, it’s still the ultimate mix of business and pleasure for folks who work in the entertainment world. The “Live Music Capital of the World” is now a haven for the entire entertainment business… well, at least during March. The small, cosmopolitan city that could went from unknown to world-renowned in a couple of years, thanks to SXSW.

With an eclectic lineup of music acts, films, parties, and panels planned for SXSW 2013, that number of attendees increase every year. (Hint: Make sure you’ve already booked your Austin vacation apartment.) With our comprehensive, 2013 SXSW Guide, you'll be schooled in everything from the music panels to the late-night parties.

What is South by Southwest?

The better question is: what isn't South by Southwest?

SXSW music

SXSW Music

During SXSW Music, downtown Austin is a cacophony of blues, folk, pop, rock, rap, and every other type of music imaginable – because at any moment, dozens upon dozens of musicians perform on different stages, at the same time, within walking distance of each other. With your SXSW wristband or music badge, you can single out just one band or solo artist, in humble little bars and state-of-the-art concert venues. While it’s hard to pick and choose between the various performers (after all, there are so many of them), Austin is alive with music day in and day out, so you’ll get your earful of music – don’t worry. Which budding musician will morph into a superstar overnight? It’s anyone’s guess, and that’s part of the fun. Catch up on festival buzz and educate yourself on the insides of the music industry at SXSW Music’s daytime panels. (You’ll need more than just a wristband to get this involved, though.)


Movie buffs are given a nine-day excuse to “geek out” at SXSW Film – during the lengthy festival, expect cutting-edge documentaries, offbeat dramas, star-studded Hollywood premiers, and everything in between. In addition to the movies, South by Southwesters are likely to see the actors, directors, and writers behind them. For badge holders, SXSW Film rounds up the movie biz’s best and brightest individuals for in-depth discussions and lectures (AKA panels).

SXSW Interactive

SXSW Interactive is all about "what's next." Gamers, computer junkies, entrepreneurs of the web, software geniuses, multimedia pros, and other various gurus and geeks, get together to share ideas and new, up-and-coming technologies. Hey, if a social media phenomenon like Twitter launched here, you know something special’s in store for 2013 attendees.

SXSW Comedy

New in 2013, every SXSW badge holder will have access to the more comical side of the fest. Stand up shows, live podcasts, and more will be sprinkled throughout the festival.

Back to top

Where is South by Southwest?

SXSW austinSouth by Southwest is located deep in the heart of the Lonestar State (to out-of-towners, that’s Texas). As the state capital and the home of the University of Texas, Austin is a bohemian, increasingly metropolitan city – the perfect hub for a multi-faceted, dynamic festival like SXSW. When you’re not listening to a live band, watching an indie comedy, or taking notes at an insightful panel, make sure to chow down on some delicious Tex-Mex and later walk off the calories at Zilker Park. It’s worth it to squeeze in some non-SXSW sightseeing and exploring into your trip, if possible.

Nearly all the festival events and activities are located in downtown Austin, with the Austin Convention Center as the focus. You can usually walk from one show/movie/party/panel to the next, so pack comfy shoes.

Austin Convention Center
500 E Cesar Chavez St, 78701

View Larger Map

Back to top

South by Southwest Specifics: the 2013 Lineup

March 12-17, 2013

South by Southwest is showcasing 200+ bands for SXSW 2013. These acts represent the best up-and-comers from around the globe, and a handful of well-known artists, too. Highlights include 50 Cent, Band of Horses, Tori Amos, Tony Bennet, Beastie Boys, Beck, Fiona Apple, the Alabama Shakes, and more acts will be added to the lineup as the festival approaches.

The SXSW Music Conference “talks” or "sessions" are sure to be a hit in 2013; topics range from virtual reality to tech startups.

Don’t forget to check out the Music Trade Show, where you can network with record labels, radio stations, music managers, and other revered experts in the industry.

What else can you expect at the SXSW music festival?

  • Music Gear Expo – March 14th to the 16th, 12 pm to 4 or pm
  • SXSW Music Startup Village - March 13th, 11 am to 6 pm

A host of parties are also planned for the festival (like Music Mixer & Fajitas); what could be more fun than a bunch of music lovers getting together for drinks, dancing, and deal making? Plenty of unofficial bashes can be expected as well.

SXSW film festival

March 8 – 16, 2013

You probably won’t be able to cram the hundred+ SXSW film screenings into just nine days, but it can’t hurt to try. Drinking Buddies, starring Olivia Wilde, the Incredible Burt Wonderstoneare, starring Steve Carrel and Jim Carrey, are a few of the most anticipated films. More will be announced soon!

The SXSW Film Conference panels will enlighten you about casting, getting financing for your own film, and more.

Just like the music portion of the festival, SXSW Film also features a trade show and block party, where you can grab some schwag or just a free drink.

  • Mentor Sessions
  • Workshops
  • Panels
  • SXSW Film Startup Alley – March 10th
  • Come & Capture Film Factory - March 9th to the 12th

What about the parties? Well, there’s a plethora of them! Whether it’s a chill reception or a blowout you’re looking for, your options include (but are not limited to) the SXSW Film Opening Party, the SXSW Film Happy Hour, and of course much more.

March 8 - 12, 2013

SXSW Interactive consists of a whole lot of dialogue, listening, and well, playing around. Keynotes, panels, and book readings will get your creative juices flowing, while "Screenburn at SXSW" will get you excited about all the latest video game news and technology. You can also check out the the SXSW Accelerator, set to showcase converging media – particularly within the social networking framework. Finally, even dorks know how to party; mingle at the SXSW Interactive lounges and parties!

What to expect at SXSW Interactive:

  • SXSW Gaming Expo - March 8th to the 10th, various times
  • SXSW Startup Village - March 8th to the 12th, various times
  • Sessions, panels, etc

Back to top

SXSW Badges

Okay, so you’ve decided you’re going to South by Southwest. Good for you! However, it’s not all that simple. When you register for the festival, you’ll have five badges to choose from. Here’s a run-down of what each badge gets you. 

  • Platinum Badge – This is the mother of all badges. And as you might have guessed, it’s the most expensive, at $1,450 a pop. You’ll get total access to the film, music, and interactive aspects of SXSW. Not only that, but you’ll be invited to exclusive events and parties. 
  • Gold Badge – Slightly more affordable than the Platinum ($1,195), the Gold Badge is a more economical choice for the film and tech lover who wants everything but the music.
  • Music Badge – If you’re a hardcore music aficionado, the $750 Music Badge has your name on it. You’ll get access to all the shows, panels, and official parties hosted by the SXSW Music Festival and Conference.
  • Film Badge –Are you coming to SXSW to see the movies? Then see that you sign up for a Film Badge, the cheapest of the lot ($595), which not only grants you access to the film screenings, panels, and parties, but the SXSW Gaming Expo, too.
  • Interactive Badge – A bit pricier than the Film Badge, the $995 Interactive Badge is a technology junkie's dream come true; you’ll participate in the full Interactive Festival agenda, from the panels to the parties.

Affordable wristbands and film passes will go on sale soon. If you're more interested in visiting Austin than attending SXSW 2013, forgo the badges and simply keep an eye and ear out for the free shows, movies, and events that SXSW puts together every year. 

Back to top

Where to Stay

Lots of Austin condo rentals and apartments conveniently located in and around downtown Austin are ready to house you for SXSW 2013. Not only do the area hotels sell out fast for the festival, but they jack up rates – because they can. Instead of wasting your money on a small, bland hotel room, stay in a roomy Austin vacation rental. But inquire today! Austin vacation condos and apartments for SXSW 2013 won’t last much longer.


Back to top

Book your Austin vacation now!

You might also like...