South by Southwest, often stylized as SXSW, is a 10-day event that brings together multiple festivals, conferences and concerts. Focusing on film, music and interactive industries, this celebration attracts some of the most creative people in the world. Over the course of your visit, you can rock out at evening concerts, attend screenings of indie films and listen to lectures about the latest technological developments. Add in networking opportunities, comedy performances and exhibits, and there's more than enough to keep you busy for the full 10 days.
Every day of the South by Southwest event is packed with events; if you like, you can attend a different session every hour from morning to night.
• SXSW Conference
The conference offers 22 different tracks covering topics as diverse as space, experiential storytelling and fantastic futures. In the mood for a talk? The 2020 speaker lineup includes Judd Apatow, Stephen Colbert, Samantha Bee, Jim Belushi and more. Feel inspired at Dr. Brené Brown's podcast launch or learn about the business of cannabis from Steve DeAngelo.
• SXSW Exhibitions
If you're in the mood to learn, enhance your conference experience with the South by Southwest Exhibitions. At the trade show, you can meet the world's top influencers and try out VR technology. Learn about health and wellness at the Wellness Expo or explore the boundaries of video games at the Gaming Expo.
• SXSW Music Festival
With its thrilling lineup of world-renowned acts and local bands, the Music Festival offers something for everyone. Get to know world music with the Afrobeat octet Kokoroko or experience dub-influenced electronic with HTRK. Luminaries including Yo-Yo Ma and K-Pop's SUMIN will also be in attendance. Want to discover new artists? The SXSW Second Wave lineup is for you. With acts from Steam Down, Tim Burgess, Alex Somers and Arlo Parks, you're sure to hear something completely new.
• SXSW Film Festival
Discover some of the most exciting filmmakers from around the world at the Film Festival. Be the first to see the world premieres of “Holler” from Nicole Riegel or the documentary “Bulletproof” from Todd Chandler. Looking for big names? Check out the Headliners, which include “Beastie Boys Story” from Spike Jonze, or you might be able to rub shoulders with Michael Showalter during “The Lovebirds.” With films in categories ranging from Texas Shorts to Episodic Pilots, there's a movie for everyone.
• SXSW Comedy Festival
Break out the tissues for the Comedy Festival! With performers like Todd Glass, Kathy Griffin and Busy Philipps, you'll be laughing until you cry. This festival includes a huge variety of comedy acts from stand-up sessions to improv and sketches. Attend a live podcast recording or learn more about your favorite comedians at a panel. Don't forget about the parties, which can go on all night.
South by Southwest is located in downtown Austin, Texas. Since there are so many different events and exhibitions, venues are scattered around town. The Austin Convention Center is the primary hub for the event.
Since South by Southwest is located in an urban area, the organizers don't make special accommodations for RVers. However, a motorhome is still a great way to attend the festival. The secret is to book a campsite outside of the downtown area; that way, you can enjoy a peaceful place to rest, but you don't need to worry about navigating crowded streets and figuring out road closures in an RV.
The closest campgrounds to South by Southwest are located south and southeast of downtown Austin. For amenities including a pool and full hookups, try the Austin East KOA Holiday. You'll also find a variety of privately owned parks. From these nearby campgrounds, it's easy to get to the festival using public transportation or ride-share apps.
Greater Austin offers some spectacular campgrounds, so you can make the most of your RV rental from RVshare; if you're booking for South by Southwest, reservations are a must. Just 13 miles from town, McKinney Falls State Park offers 81 campsites. Each one has hookups for water and electricity, and there's a dump station on-site.
If you want to combine your South by Southwest experience with a wilderness adventure, look to the spectacular Pedernales Falls State Park. It's about an hour outside of Austin, so it's a good option if you're bringing a passenger vehicle. Each of the 69 partial-hookup sites are within easy reach of hiking, mountain biking and river swimming opportunities.
Lake Travis is another great option for RVers. It is about 20 miles from the Austin Convention Center and offers a variety of campgrounds. Wake up to lake views at Windy Point Park or check out the many RV parks on the southern shore.
If you're not bringing an RV, the most convenient places to stay during South by Southwest are Austin's downtown hotels. Do you already have your pass? You'll get the best prices by booking through the SXSW Housing and Travel system. The festival works with more than 50 hotels, so you can get discounted room rates. As a bonus, most of these hotels are on the SXSW shuttle route, so it's a breeze to get to different events. To take advantage of these deals, follow the “hotels” link in your registration email.
Hotels in downtown Austin fill up fast during South by Southwest; if you're booking later, you might need to start looking at properties that are farther out. First, check out hotels in Leander and Cedar Park; these towns are on the Capital MetroRail train route, so you can walk to the station and get to downtown without worrying about traffic or parking. Other towns on this route are Wells Branch and North Austin. South of town, look for hotels along the MetroRapid bus lines 801 and 803; both buses take you right to downtown.
The easiest way to get to South by Southwest is on Interstate 35. It runs into Austin from San Antonio in the south and Dallas and Oklahoma City from the north. From Houston or El Paso, hop on Interstate 10 and connect to I-35.
During South by Southwest, downtown Austin is crowded and exceptionally busy. RV parking is virtually nonexistent, so it's best to leave your RV at your campsite and take public transportation into and around the city. Most event venues are within walking distance of the Austin Convention Center. If you'd prefer a ride, check out the South by Southwest shuttle. It circulates around the event; plus, it's free with your SXSW pass. Another great option is the Capital Metro system. Austin also offers pedicabs, Austin B-Cycle bike-sharing, JUMP scooters and ride-sharing apps.
South by Southwest does not offer event-specific parking. Instead, the organizers suggest that you check out the metered parking spots on the day using the city of Austin's parking map. Keep in mind that parking spots are extremely limited and likely to fill up fast. If you're coming from a remote campground, consider parking in a paid lot on the edge of town and taking a bus or a ride-share into the downtown area.
South by Southwest offers a variety of all-access badges. There are three major tracks: interactive, film and music. Each badge costs $1,395 and offers primary access to all of the events in your category and secondary access to other tracks. Do you want faster access to events across different tracks? Go for the Platinum badge, which gives you primary access to every event. This badge is $1,725, but you'll get first dibs on every event. Discounts are available for students and groups.
Once you have a badge, you can download the SXSW GO app to build a schedule with your top-choice sessions. This app can also help you figure out how to get from event to event when you're in Austin.
Are you heading to South by Southwest? Share your adventures with the team at RVshare. Send your stories and photos to [email protected], and you might see yourself featured on the site's blog or social media pages.
Get excited for South by Southwest by checking out updates via @SXSW on YouTube and Instagram or @SXSWFestival on Facebook!
Please note, this is not the official source of the event information. While we try to be as comprehensive as possible, some details may have changed since the time this article was written. Please confirm final details with the official event page.