The MSN Traveler

The cool kids' guide to SXSW

We may not be able to give you a first-hand bag of tricks for first-timers, but we found all the best tips.

By Chelsea Lin Mar 7, 2013 11:58AM

There are two types of people: the cool kids who spend spring planning for South by Southwest and summer planning for Burning Man, and the rest of us. We’re not embarrassed to fall into the latter camp (who are we kidding, we’re dying to go) until it’s our turn to help you decide where to go and what to do while you’re there.


SXSW, the epic music/film/tech festival that has helped put Austin on the map as Texas’ hippest little city, starts Friday: the interactive conference (heavy on the start-ups and social media) runs March 8-12, the film fest March 8-16, and the music (for many, the only reason to go) March 12-17. This is no slouch of an event. Tens of thousands of attendees show up for hundreds of parties, performances, and speakers at venues around downtown. Badges for even one of the three components run anywhere from $650 to $1150 for walk-up participants, and a pass to all three parts costs $1350 to $1595.


So if you’re going to make the commitment of going, we want you to have fun. A few tips, from folks much cooler than we are:

  • TechcrunchYour SXSW Survival Guide. Highlight: “Exercise. Do it. There’s a running trail around Lady Bird Lake and likely an (empty) gym at your hotel. Even if you’re exhausted, a 30-minute workout will rejuvenate you. Say hello to a stranger on the street. Find out their story. Share yours. That’s what SXSW is all about. And I promise you, it’s not that hard.”
  • Digital TrendsHow to Survive the Wild, Weird Weeks of SXSW. Highlight: “You’ll want to hit up all the coolest parties you can get to, but seriously, get some rest. Nobody wants to dance with a zombie. If you can’t make it back to your cheap Airbnb 30 minutes outside of downtown, there are plenty of lounges with Wi-Fi and water where you can take a breather and maybe even catch a few snoozes. Circus Mashimus, for example, has an all-you-can-eat popcorn station, phone chargers, and sofas made for your much-needed break.”
  • Silicon AngleYour Complete Guide to SXSW 2013. Highlight: “Remember to pack clothes for every occasion, since SXSW is an opportunity for you to meet new friends, expand your business contacts, and maybe even get investors interested in what your company has to offer.  And since the venue is so huge, you’d better be nice to your feet and wear comfortable shoes.”
  • JauntedHow to Eat for Free, Party for Free, and Catch Free Shows at SXSW 2013. Highlight: “While Austin has a great downtown—which has grown enormously since I moved there—the actual city is quite expansive and extends way beyond the hustle and bustle of SXSW. If it's not too late, I recommend making sure your hotel or housing is close enough so that you can easily get back and forth to the conference as quickly as possible. The thing to remember is that while Austin is a real city, it's not a major metropolitan city like a Manhattan, Chicago, or San Francisco. However, during SXSW it kind of feels like one, but it doesn't have the cab resources to match. My advice to you is to think ahead, learn bus routes or rent a bike.”

Twitter accounts you should follow for #SXSW news, commentary, and services:

For further awesome SXSW coverage, check out coverage on MSN Entertainment here and here

Feel free to share your own tips and tricks in the comments below. And have fun, kids!


Image courtesy of Tejas Prints.  


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