No Badge Required

Your guide to free events on SXSW's first weekend

No Badge Required

Didn't have the time or money to snag a SXSW badge or wristband this year? You can barricade yourself indoors, waiting for the annual human hurricane to blow over (as tempting as that prospect may be), or enjoy a portion of the SXSW bounty by attending official events that are free and open to the public.

SXSW uses a Guest Pass program for entry into the majority of the Festival's free events. Sign up online at to have an electronic pass emailed to you which you can then show to gain entry to the events of your choosing. If you want to look more tech-savvy, copy your guest pass to Google Wallet or Android Pay or even download the SXSW Go app.

Other major free events include a job market in the Austin Convention Center open on Saturday, March 12, and Sunday, March 13. There are also plenty of smaller things going on that don't require you to blow any cash, like an exhibition of poster art, award shows, and SX Create (a space showing off 3-D printing, drones, and other high-tech curiosities). Of course, you can also try your luck at one of several sponsored lounges with bottled drinks given away if you're into being "branded" at while you imbibe.

If any of this tickles your fancy, just keep in mind that Downtown parking is going to be even more of a nightmare than usual, so you may want to consider getting to these events by bus, bike, or your own two feet. Check out our online guide to getting around Austin for more tips (although if you're a local, you probably know how Austin transit "works"). If you plan on going to any of the Downtown events, the MetroRail line drops you off right at the Convention Center's front doors.

General Assembly + SXSW 2016 Workshop Programming

Friday-Sunday, March 11-13, 11am-4:30pm
AT&T Executive Education and Conference Center, 1900 University Ave.

Get an edge in your career with these classes in topics including web development, digital marketing, business development, and user experience design. Attendees must sign up for individual classes online.

SX Create

Friday-Sunday, March 11-13, 11am-6pm
Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd.

Somewhere at the intersection of engineering, art, and fun is this three-day event exploring drones, 3-D printing, robots, hardware hacking, fashion, and more hands-on enticements for kids and adults alike. Perhaps the best part is the ability to park in the paid lot right next door.

SXSW Job Market

Saturday & Sunday, March 12 & 13, 10am-5pm
Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 1

Looking for a job that is as forward-thinking as you are? Try your luck at this gathering of employers looking for professionals with skills that match their vision. Bring your résumé, unless you think that makes you look too analog.

"Heavy Metal Parking Lot" and Darkon

Saturday, March 12, 9pm
Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside

This evening of free cinema kicks off with a 30th anniversary screening of the cult short that little more than interviews metalheads outside a Judas Priest concert. The result is nothing short of stunning. Following that amuse-bouche is the documentary about LARPers (you know, the folks who dress up and role play as sword-fighters in a fantasy realm).

Smokey and the Bandit

Sunday, March 13, 8pm
Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside

The Burt Reynolds/Sally Field dynamic was never more endearing than in this classic chase film. Reynolds will be on hand to introduce the film, but the real thrill will be seeing his majestic mustache on the big screen.

Cartoon Network Presents The Powerpuff Girls

Monday, March 14, 6pm
Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside

Your favorite pint-sized superheroines return to the screen and you can get a sneak peek at the first few episodes before they air. The fun starts early with Cartoon Network offering outdoor activities including a parade. The animated action begins at 8pm.

Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards

Sunday, March 13, 7:30pm
JW Marriott, 110 E. Second, Rm. 201 & 202

Come out to help celebrate those people bridging cultural and digital divides around the world. Dewey Winburne was one of the co-founders of the SXSW Interactive Festival, and they continue to honor his legacy through these awards and grants.

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SXSW 2016, free, Darkon, Smokey and the Bandit, Powerpuff Girls, SX Create, SXSW Job Market, Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards, General Assembly + SXSW 2016 Workshop Programming

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