1) Take alternative transportation! You won’t even recognize Austin this year with all the new hotels, construction, and way fewer parking spots than last year. You don’t want to waste time sitting in terrible traffic to try to get downtown and then an hour to find parking. Our favorite way to get to SXSW is the train. Get info at MetroRail https://www.capmetro.org/metrorail/
2) Don’t live the festival through your Android/IPhone. Take a few phone pics but please try to enjoy the show and allow others around you to have fun too. Yes technology is great, but the sad state of fans holding up phones throughout the entire show has gotten out of control. Not only will you drain your battery and get shoulder and neck pain, but will you ever really look back at that video in the future?
3) Eat, Eat, Eat! Austin is known for great food, not just great music. Besides great BBQ and Mexican Food, Food Trucks are everywhere! From Thai, Indian, and Italian you can go straight to glutteny with places like Gourdoughs where you can get a donut burger or donut entree- The Porkey’s with Canadian Bacon, Cream Cheese & Jalapeno Jelly. My, oh my! Bring some Tums. Also, don’t even try Franklin’s world famous bbq-wait times are over 4 hours.
4)Bring a Survival Backpack or Kit.This should include protein bars, energy gels (like Clif), advil, rain poncho, water, sunscreen, phone, business cards, back-up shoes, earplugs, Don’t worry too much about cell battery drainage as you can find Samsung and other brands handing out fresh batteries downtown.
5)Get the SXSW APP. Try and get your Schedule somewhat lined up ahead of time. Once you’re in the midst of the fest, you will be too excited to slow down and take time to figure it out. By the last couple days, you’ll be too exhausted or hung-over to do any planning at all. It’s survival mode at that point. About the App
6) Gather some cool freebies. Every corner downtown has cool giveaways like sunglasses, protein bars, t-shirts and tech accessories. Go into the Austin Convention Center (ACC) you will find even more cool stuff!
7) Check out our amazing local bands. Don’t just see huge shows like Polica or Iggy Pop. Ume, Mother Falcon, A.Sinclair, Whiskey Shivers, Hardproof, The Eastern Sea, Max Frost, Kydd Jones, Octopus Project just to name a few. The now famous Grammy Winner Gary Clark Jr. is an Austinite and is incredible but you’ll be hard-pressed to find him.
8) Go to Rainey Street. This is part of downtown off Cesar Chavez St. and has some of the best festival acts anywhere in the fest. It’s just a few blocks of restored Craftsman style homes that are now the hipster, coolest bars and restaurants in all of Austin. You can catch March Madness or play games in the backyard. Lustre Pearl has re-opend and The Container Bar is great and had some great funkadelic last year with Charles Bradley and recently DeadMaus played SXSW in a small cottage style house that was converted into a party for the festival.
9) Train for Endurance! SXSW is a marathon not a sprint, they say. You truly need to pace yourself. Especially if you will start the fest prior to the music (which is the last 4 days). It helps if you can get in shape ahead of time since you will be walking many miles a day (10 is very common) going from West Austin to East Austin. Get some good cardio conditioning so you won’t tire out quickly. During the fest, stop and take short breaks. Hydrate and eat a bar or some nuts. Sit in a hotel lobby, stop by a coffeehouse, or take a nap in your room. You’ll be amazed how much more enjoyable the festival is for you.
10) Stay aware at all times. Even though Austin is very safe and there will be lots of cops and security around, protect yourself from misery by walking in crowds, watch drivers, don’t stare down at your phone, and keep your wallet hidden (don’t wear a backpack and put your wallet at the top). Shouldn’t have to say it, but please don’t drink (or text) and drive.