South by Southwest Is Headed to London

Culture fest adds third venue as global expansion continues

Randel Bryan, Managing Director of the new SXSW London (Image Courtesy of SXSW)

South by Southwest, the hybrid music/tech/film/tv/culture festival, will be forever synonymous with Austin. But, having added an Australian spinoff last year, now the fest is headed across the pond to London for a UK-based leg.

SXSW's social media team let the cat out of the bag yesterday with a post with a video of all the city’s landmarks and a warning of “culture klatsch incoming” (causing the inevitable torrent of responses fearing that the fest is leaving Austin). Now the organizers have released the actual details.

Much like the Sydney event, SXSW London will be its own separate affair, not impacting the home event. Over a week in June (dates TBA), the fest will take over venues in the east London community of Shoreditch. Just as Sydney has become a destination for creators and technologists from Asia and the Pacific Rim, so the plan is for SXSW London to reflect Europe. More details and ticket info at sxswlondon.com.

Jann Baskett, Co-President and Chief Brand Officer of SXSW, said, “We couldn’t be more excited to bring the SXSW experience to London. Following the success of SXSW Sydney, this is an incredible new opportunity to highlight the elements that make SXSW unique in one of the most vibrant cities in Europe. We look forward to forming deeper connections with our overseas community and bringing the conversations that start in Austin all the way to London.”

Heading up the event will be Factory International CEO Randel Bryan, who will become Managing Director of SXSW London. In a statement he said: “As a life-long fan of SXSW I truly believe that it’s more than an event - it’s a movement, a platform where the world’s greatest minds, musicians and motivators come to share their passion and their vision of the future. SXSW London will build on Austin’s incredible legacy, presenting an event that underpins why SXSW is the go-to destination for professionals and creatives seeking meaningful connections, unexpected experiences and ideas that can help shape the world. SXSW London will also provide a platform for the next generation of creative talent and we will be working hard to ensure that opportunities for learning, employment and community uplift are at the heart of everything we do.”

Obviously, such an event is a coup for London and the UK. Mayor of London Sadiq Kahn, who attended SXSW 2018, said, “I am delighted to welcome SXSW to London for the first time ever - confirming our place at the heart of Europe’s tech and creative sectors and as a global capital of culture.”

On the national government side, Culture Secretary Lucy Frazer said, “Festivals have been a vital part of British culture for decades and a key part of the reason why the UK is known the world over for creative excellence.” However, therein lies the rub. The UK’s festival scene has been in crisis for the last few years, with dozens of arts and music events canceled due to the increasing costs of organizing such large gatherings, and the post-Brexit challenges of work visas for performers and attendees. Will SXSW London manage to break the curse? We’ll find out in June 2025.

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KEYWORDS FOR THIS POST

SXSW, SXSW London

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