Do you have a friend in a band? No doubt they will have heard of South by Southwest. One of the premier events for indie music and film where not just bands and punters attend, but the industry-types scout and network for the next latest and greatest. Held in Austin, Texas, the host-town is something of a beacon in a state famous for oil (Texas Tea), beef and Dallas. The official website labels it "the live music capital of the world" and this festival attracts over 30 000 people plus in excess of 2 000 acts for over 100 live venues.

Let's rock!

Maybe a Hipster-Haven but undeniable cool, this festival features old and new in a fun university town. It is not just music that has attracted everyone since 1987; film, interactive, conferences, networking and education are all featured. The annual festival has long been a place for emerging artists and film premieres (if you are from Brisbane in the 2000s, you may remember I Heart Hiroshima scoring a place). Bands cover their own expenses and must book well in advance.

Featured artists can be previewed on the official SXSW YouTube and the diverse likes of Johnny Cash, Hanson, James Blunt, The Flaming Lips, Foursquare, Bruce Springsteen, Lady Gaga, Conan O'Brien, Mark Zuckerberg, Joss Whedon, Robert Rodriguez and Tilda Swinton all have appeared here. Ideas such as how to "save music" in an increasingly technology-driven world have been floated here. Held over six days, this event attracts a global audience and, while a destination all-year round, is a vibrant period in Austin thriving with energy.


When is it?

11th March 2016 to 20th March 2016

Tips and tricks

  • Despite including major sponsors such as McDonald's and criticisms of over-commercialisation, you can experience a massive range of content (new and old, cool and fresh) at SXSW.

  • If you are a band or film-maker looking to participate, submissions usually close in September or early October.

  • Along with apps, the festival maintains a social network service so you can connect with other attendees, especially in a professional sense.

  • From Australia, a number of airline options are available and with a popular festival like this, Universal Traveller can help organise everything from flights to transfers and accommodation in advance. Holiday packages are also an option!

  • The town has previously been concerned with the rapid expansion of the festival and numbers are capped. As with any international festival of this size, advance organisation helps and the official website can provide guidance (including a "first-timer" guide).

  • With all the content, plan ahead for an epic six days. The weather in Austin is unpredictable, the festival is very busy and there is a lot of distance to cover with your feet.

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