From Quebec to Texas: SXSW 101

March 5, 2013

So who’s headed to South by Southwest (SXSW) this year?

Lucky you, if you are! Having participated in the music portion last year, allow me share a few tips and tricks to help make your trip to Texas all the better.

Let the city’s motto – Keep Austin weird! – set the tone. Although you’re definitely in Texas, Austin is not your typical Texan town. It’s free-spirited, hyperactive and just a little… crazy!

As soon as you arrive…

Run over to the Austin Convention Center to pick up your badges and bracelet for the shuttle, which will carry you safe and sound to your hotel. But pack plenty of patience! You may have to wait in line for a while. 😉
This is a good opportunity, however, to catch up on reading newspapers and websites, browsing the official SXSW applications, finding the best available Wifi network and selecting the conferences and events that you want to attend.

Look up from your iPhone or Android now and again!

Austin is a beautiful city… and the weather is fine and hot. Try to check out the Texas State Capitol if you can. And keep your eyes peeled for a flash mob! This city loves a good flash mob and if you don’t believe me, check out Angry Birds 2012.

You’re going to have to eat sometime.

SXSW’s most recommended eateries are recommended for a reason. Don’t miss tasty Cajun seafood dumped right on your table at Boiling Pot (bib included!), located on 6th Street.

You’ll be able to spot food trucks all over Austin, so take every opportunity to order a pulled pork sandwich. My favourite food truck was The Peached Tortilla.

Also, you CANNOT LEAVE Austin without trying the smoked ribs at Stubb’s BBQ. You can even buy a bottle of their famous BBQ sauce to take home with you.

Want to know where to get free food and drink during SXSW? Follow these Twitter accounts:

  • @southbyfreenoms: Taking a bite out of Austin one party at a time! Your unofficial guide to all the free food + drinks at #SXSW.
  • @tacojournalism: In Search of Tacos y mas. Tacos. Never. Die.

Geek hard, play hard!

Also, do not underestimate how hard geeks can party!

Primo: Add the following Twitter accounts to your feed to find every hot party in town:

  • @sxswpartylist: The Party List for #SXSW2013.
  • @sxswpartypatrol: Searching for the best free parties at SXSW. No badges needed!
  • @sxswparty: Tracking all of the parties at SxSW in Austin.
  • @360sxsw: Austin360's SXSW Interactive headquarters.
  • @coolinaustin: Guide to free and cheap drinks, parties and events in Austin.
  • @chronsxsw: The Austin Chronicle, all over @SXSW Interactive, Film, and Music.
  • @do512: Do512 is What to Do in Austin, Austin's #1 Event Guide. Hundreds of events weekly. Ticket giveaways.

There’s also the Eventbrite SXSW, with an ever-growing list of activities and events during the interactive week.

Secundo: Choose a pick-up line for the week and follow the #sxswpickuplines hashtag. My favourite pick-up line this year? “Hey, I just met you, and this is crazy, but here's my @Klout score, so call me maybe?” by @mikedmerrill.

And lastly, beware of local shooters! Remember: “Everything is bigger in Texas!”

There you have it! You’re ready to go. If any other questions come up, there’s always the very useful SXSW first-timer guide. Otherwise, pack your business cards and have a great time!

Official Twitter accounts to always follow: @sxsw and @sxsweco.
Hashtag musts: #sxsw, #sxsw2013 and #mashsxsw (Mashable).
SXSW Interactive, Austin TX, March 8-12, 2013.