How to do SXSW on a Budget

SXSW begins next week and I am very excited. SXSW (South by Southwest) is one of the many annual festivals that takes place here in Austin, Texas. It is a 2 week festival that offers education, interactive, film and music events. I have lived in this area for nearly 3 years yet I have never attended this massive event. This year, that fact will change!

When I initially started planning to attend SXSW I wanted to go to SXSW Interactive. Once I headed over to register, my hopes of attending immediately got shot to pieces. Attending SXSW Interactive requires that one must purchase a badge. A VERY EXPENSIVE BADGE. One that comes with a $1295 price tag if you are a bit of a last-minute decision maker like myself. Umm…yeah. I am not about that life!

A) I am far too cheap economical to pay such a hefty price. B) I had to do a return on investment analysis to see if I felt it was worth the cost of attendance and I could not justify the expense. So I thought SXSW was going to be a bust until my students schooled me on how to do SXSW without paying a penny or at a very small cost. Leave it to college students to teach you how to get things for the low! Here are a few tips that I learned that will allow me to enjoy some of the many things that SXSW  has to offer.


  1. SXSW does offer a few events free to the public. Head over to their website to learn about these events.
  2. There are free guest passes that can be picked up at area retailers. Once you get a guest pass, go to http://guestpass.sxsw.com/ and register your guess pass ID to be able to attend free events and be entered for a chance to win one of their many giveaways.
  3. Social media is awesome about keeping you abreast of free events. Some of my favorite organizations to follow on Twitter are @RSVPster, @SXSWpartylist, @RSVPSXSW, and @do512. They have all the inside scoop on unofficial and official SXSW parties, meet ups, etc. These events can be attended for free just by RSVPing.
  4. Services such as RSVPster will register you to attend 100s of events for a minimal fee of $30-40. This is a real bargain for people who don’t want to spend hours looking up all the events.
  5. One tip I have learned: A RSVP to these events does not automatically ensure that you will get in. Once venues reach capacity you will be turned away so it is best to arrive early if there is an event you really want to attend.
  6. There is a lot of free food at SXSW! I am down for that any day of the week. If you are a foodie like myself, you will appreciate the Food Crawl @ SXSW. Register at their website http://www.foodcrawl.co to get your pass to sampling a bit of what Austin restaurants have to offer.
  7. I have been RSVP’ing to as many things that interest me. This way if I get turned away from a venue that has reached capacity, I will have a back up plan (hopefully).
  8. Venues have also been giving away free tickets through social media. If there is a show playing at a specific venue that may not be free, follow that venue and jump on the “enter to win” train when the giveaways commence. I am currently following the Long Center trying to win a chance to see Jimmy Kimmel Live. That would be awesome!
  9. Go downtown Austin and mingle with other attendees. People can be a great source of information when it comes to determining what is worth seeing.
  10. Restaurants in the downtown area (specifically 6th street from what I am told) offer a lot of free music events during the day in hopes of attracting more patrons. If nothing else, head to one of these spots for a lunch surrounded by beautiful music.

If you come to the Austin area during SXSW, let me know! I would love to meet up. Also please be sure to like and share this post. It may be helpful to those like myself who never knew you could do SXSW without a badge.

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