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SXSW 2024: What Is It?

For 10 days in mid-March Austin, TX becomes the center of the world. The city hosts a constant scene of parties, lounges, film screenings, music shows, technology showcases, and free tacos. It all starts with the official SXSW conference, but you’ll also hear people talk about ‘unofficial’ events. So what’s the difference between official and unofficial SXSW, and how can you tell if an event requires a badge?


The official SXSW conference is a 10 day event composed of a wide ranging conference + several sub-festivals. It’s owned and operated by SXSW, LLC. The sub-festivals are:

Interactive (March 8 - 12)

Film & TV (March 8 - 16)

Music (March 11 - 16)

Comedy (Mach 8 - 16)

Each sub-festival has panels, keynotes, lounges, and other events unique to each festival. For example, Music has music showcases, Film has film screenings, and Interactive has industry showcases like technology exhibitions, and startup pitch competitions. You can learn more about each sub-festival here:

To attend official SXSW events you need SXSW credentials. There are 2 types of credentials, which we’ll go over in our next blog post.


For over 30 years the official SXSW conference has brought hundreds of thousands of people to Austin every March: artists, film makers, entrepreneurs, industry professionals, music enthusiasts, event organizers, etc. At some point people started thinking, "Why not throw a cool event outside the SXSW conference just for fun?" As the years went by, more and more events started being organized outside the official sub-festivals. Today, all these ‘other’ events make up a massive collection of parties known as the ‘unofficial’ festival.

These events do not require SXSW credentials to attend. They range from free tacos at a food truck, to huge music showcases at Austin’s biggest venues. It’s key to note that unofficial events are NOT associated with the official SXSW conference.

So how can you tell if an event is unofficial or not? Easy! Search for the event at or on the SXSW mobile app. If you can’t find the event listed there, chances are the event is unofficial.



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