What should I know about South by Southwest?

Answers from Our Experts (1)

Caroline Patek

As huge as SXSW is — 10 days of music, interactive sessions and films — it can be overwhelming, especially for first timers. But your trip can go smoothly if you plan ahead. Whether you’re just attending one session or all 10 days, our Forbes Travel Guide editors have a few simple tips for you:

1. Make a schedule. The best way to tackle the 10-day festival is to make an itinerary of the concerts, panels, parties and screenings you want to attend. Whether you actually adhere to it is another story, but at least you’ll have an idea of what you want to do. And go social. You can find updated info on SXSW on Facebook, Twitter, SXsocial (a tool created to allow participants to message other attendees) and tons of other social media sites, so use them. And you can also get details about Austin, too.
2. Register online. Registration badges are required for access to all of the conferences, festivals and trade shows. You can select single events (music, film or interactive) or a combination of events (platinum badges include access to music, film and interactive). If you can’t snag a badge, don’t worry — there are plenty of “unofficial” events around Austin that don’t require them. But be proactive and register for as many events as possible so you can easily hop from one to the other.
3. There’s plenty of food. No massive festival would be complete without a bevy of eats, and you certainly won’t be disappointed with the spread at SXSW. Between food trucks, sit-down areas and Austin’s impressive dining scene, there’s plenty to go around. Be on the lookout for the popular BBQ and Tex-Mex dishes — after all, you are in Texas. And the talent is top-notch. For the 2013 event, Top Chef and James Beard Award winner Paul Qui of Uchi fame partnered with SXSW to offer attendees a fleet of gourmet food trucks.

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