The newbies’ guide to SXSW

Caroline Betik

Exploding in both size and popularity, South by Southwest is drawing more people to Austin for a festival for the first time each year. When done right, the event can be an experience of a lifetime, but it can also be hard to figure out the best way to survive the hectic week without a little advice. That’s why The Daily Texan has provided a few tips and tricks to navigate the week of SXSW and make it a little less overwhelming for all first timers out there.

Use Public Transportation 

One thing to take into consideration when planning the week is how to navigate the busy streets of Austin. When huge events such as SXSW draw many people into the city, getting along in your own vehicle can be a huge hassle. Instead, take advantage of the wide range of public transportation offered throughout the city. 

Lyft, a mobile ridesharing app, is acting as an official partner for SXSW 2018. Whether it is a ride from the airport or back home after a long day, ridesharing is probably the best option if you need a lift. There are also promo codes available online to make the ride even cheaper. 

There are other avenues of travel as well. The B-cycle program in Austin recently installed a vast array of bike racks which can be found all over downtown using the B-Cycle app. Capital Metro bus systems may also be one of the more affordable options when traveling to and from events, but neither of these are completely reliable modes of transportation. Buses will often fill to capacity and bike racks are not guaranteed to have a bike available for use. For those reasons it is recommended to leave at least an hour before you want to arrive to an event in order to be on time.

Don’t be Tardy

At SXSW, lines are inevitable, but getting into an event is not. That’s why “to be on time is to be late” is the phrase to live by during the festival. Do your best to arrive early at events, because there will always be a group of fans who are committed to be in line before you, no matter how early you arrive. 

Be Social, Make Friends 

Although it may be tempting to take out your device to help pass time while waiting, try to keep it in your pants. Instead, turn to someone nearby and make conversation. You will thank yourself later for preserving precious battery life and you will get a sense of all the different, interesting people who come to the festival each year. It can also be extremely helpful when looking for recommendations on what events to check out later or where to go for dinner.

Be Ready for the Elements

While heels and a mini skirt may make you look great on the ‘gram, it will certainly not be the most comfortable. Due to the unavoidably large amounts of walking and standing in lines, it is recommended to wear an outfit that will be fitting with the weather and shoes that won’t leave your feet begging for mercy at the end of the day.

With that in mind, it is easy to dress for both the occasion and the weather. Just be sure to monitor the forecast when planning what to wear and always bring a jacket and rain poncho if there is any chance either might be needed. It is also important to remember sunscreen. Many people often think it is not necessary, but whatever the weather, it is always a good idea to sport some SPF.  

If Nothing Else… 

At the end of the week, head over to the SXSW Outdoor Stage at Lady Bird Lake for a three-day series of charity concert events which are free and open to the public who hold a SXSW guest pass. This venue is guaranteed to let you in, just be sure to check out the rules and regulations before heading over.