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SXSW Credentials: Badges vs. Wristbands

We get A LOT of questions about the 2 main types of SXSW credentials: badges and wristbands.

What's the difference between badge and wristband? Are they worth it, or should I just do the free stuff??

First let's get one thing straight: SXSW credentials are different levels of access for official events only. They really don't come into play for events that aren't listed on (except for one exception I'll note at the end).

I’ll start with music wristbands. I always see the most confusion around this credential. These get you access to all official SXSW Music night shows. Music wristbands do NOT give you access to any interactive or film events. They also do NOT give you access to official SXSW Music day events. The distinction between day and night events is where the most confusion lies so listen up! You can look at SXSW Music as 2 parts:

  • Day events

    • 8am - 6pm

    • Include panels, workshops, lounges, and keynote speakers

    • Open to badges only

  • Night shows

    • 8pm - 2am

    • Music shows at venues all around Austin

    • Open to badges and wristbands

Now how about film wristbands? These are a little easier to understand. Film wristbands get you into all SXSW Film Festival showings. However, badges get priority access. So at the venue there will be a line for badges and a line for wristbands. Badges get let in first, then if there's room wristbands get the remaining seats.

It's key to note that only Austin residents can purchase wristbands. However, each Austin resident can purchase up to 6 wristbands of each type. You can learn more about them at

Finally we have the almighty SXSW badge. Badges are the highest form of credential. They get you access to official SXSW day and night events. There are 4 different types of SXSW badges, which are described pretty well at . Some badges only get you access to a specific SXSW sub-festival (i.e. music or interactive), and some give you access to multiple sub-festivals (i.e. the Platinum Badge gets you access to interactive, film, and music). Each event on the SXSW website will indicate which badge you need to attend that event.

As far as the “are badges or wristbands worth it” debate goes, here’s our opinion. If your only SXSW goal is to hear some dope music AND you'll be in Austin March 13 - 18, music wristbands are 100% worth it. Sure you can get by going to unofficial shows only, but your options are severely limited at night.

If you’re an industry professional looking to network and learn more about your line of work, a badge is the way to go. They really are expensive but damn, if you can afford it your options are unlimited at SXSW.

One last thing to note: SXSW credentials DO NOT guarantee entry to unofficial SXSW events (i.e. events which aren't listed at However, on rare occasions unofficial events have done separate, shorter lines for badge and wristband holders… so keep an eye out!



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