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Mastering SXSW Lines



We know. Lines are annoying. No one likes to wait in lines, but during SXSW, it’s inevitable and actually necessary if you want to get into certain shows. We’ll discuss how you should manage your time when it comes to waiting in lines.

There are numerous factors that impact how long you will have to wait so it’s good to identify these factors first before jumping in line. These factors include your credential type, whether you are going to a day or night event/showcase and the popularity/exclusivity of the event/showcase. Let’s go through these one by one.

First, let’s talk credentials. Are you a SXSW Badge holder? A SXSW Wristband holder? Or did you just RSVP to a bunch of stuff? Well, whatever you have (or don’t have), you need to understand the tiered priority system. Platinum Badge holders get priority access to events. Next are the badge holders that have specific primary access to the event based on whether the event is labeled as an Official SXSW Interactive, Film, or Music Event. This means that you’ll need that specific badge for primary access into the event, which will put you on par with priority access with Platinum Badges. If you do not have that specific badge, then you are secondary to Platinum Badges and Primary Access badges (depending on the event). Next up are the SXSW Wristband Holders. Finally, GA gets in last, and that’s only for non-official SXSW events.

So as a rule of thumb, if you’re a Platinum Badge holder or have a badge that gives you Primary Access, I would get to the event 30 minutes early or at the time that the event opens. If you have Secondary Access as badge holder, I would get to the event 30 minutes – 1 hour early. If you have a SXSW Wristband, I would get to the event 1 hour - 1.5 hours early. Finally, if you’re GA trying to get into a non-official showcase, getting in line 2 hours early is normal.

Next, let’s talk whether the showcase is during the day or night. Day showcases typically run from the start of the day all the way until 5 PM. Night showcases begin around 7 PM and run until 2 AM or later. With that being said, night showcases are notoriously much harder to get into as these showcases tend to be much more popular. Thus, for day showcases, getting in line 1.5 hours early is average for a popular showcase, while night showcases, waiting in line can range from 1.5 – 4 hours. However, this waiting time can be cut down depending on what type of credentials you have.

Finally, understanding the popularity and exclusivity of the event or showcase will give you an idea on when you should head over to stand in line. Some past showcases like Rachel Ray’s Feedback will have people lining up as early as 6 AM (the event usually starts at 11 AM - see the top photo for proof), while other showcases that may not be as exclusive or popular may not even warrant a line.

The majority of showcases at night will have great lineups, so we suggest that you choose one showcase and stick to it since it’ll be pretty difficult to get into a second showcase later that same night (unless you’re a Primary Access badge holder). Additionally, we also suggest that you all be ON TOP of Twitter. Twitter is a great news source for anything SXSW. If you’re following the right people (@sxsaviors, @atxconcert, @ChrisKeegan, @SXSWMF, etc.), you’ll be able to sift through twitter feeds to hear about rumors, secret shows, and (you guessed it), lines! Just enter the #sxlines hashtag into the search field in Twitter, and you’ll see posts about lines related to SXSW shows. Make sure to contribute to the community as well!

Happy SXSW everyone, see you all out there!

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