The Austin Chronicle

Free Stuff to Do at SXSW: Week One

No badge, no wristband, no problem

By Tucker Whatley, March 10, 2017, Screens

Even if you didn't want or didn't manage to snag a badge or wristband this year, that doesn't mean you can't have fun during SXSW. After all, Hurricane South by Southwest will disrupt your normal routine no matter what, so why not try to wring some enjoyment out of it sans credentials?

Thankfully, there's quite a bit going on during South By that's free and open to the public. All you need to do is sign up on SXSW's website to have a free Guest Pass emailed to you, which you can then import into Google Wallet or Android Pay. You can also create a personal schedule and more with the official SXSW GO mobile app if you want to rob the Fest blind in the most organized way possible.

Your Guest Pass grants you access to a bevy of events ranging from outdoor concerts and screenings, and a job fair, to an exhibition of poster art. One thing it won't get you, however, is entry into SXSW Gaming. Starting this year, the gaming portion of the Festival will not be open to the general public, but will instead require a new gaming wristband or any other official SXSW access.

However you decide to spend the week, keep in mind that the parking situation Downtown is sure to reach Mad Max levels of chaos and despair, so avoid driving. Walking, biking, and busing are always good options, and the MetroRail line has a stop conveniently located right in front of the Convention Center. And remember, everything's more fun when it's free.

More interested in all the unofficial music showcases and day shows? Check out our party list for hundreds of ways to get day drunk while rockin' out.

Austin by Austin

Saturday, March 11
The Austin Chronicle and Austin Independent Business Alliance have teamed up to get folks away from the crowded Downtown area and out to the various shopping districts around town. Complimentary shuttles bring you to three different, walkable areas to help you get something a little more unique than a "Keep Austin Weird" T-shirt. Stores up and down the various strips host bands, offer libations, and generally keep you in the SXSW mood without the crush of humanity.

SXSW Create

Friday-Sunday, March 10-12, 11am-6pm
Palmer Events Center, 900 Barton Springs Rd.
Calling all tinkerers, hackers, and tech-heads! This exhibition of cutting-edge creations ranging from 3-D printing and drones to open-source software will surely get the blood pumping and the ideas flowing!

SXSW Job Market

Saturday-Sunday, March 11-12, 10am-5pm
Austin Convention Center, Exhibit Hall 1
For those looking for a new gig, the SXSW Job Market offers booths by employers, a stage featuring panel discussions about job searching and talent acquisition, and even live competitions where your skills can win you a SXSW Platinum badge!

General Assembly + SXSW Present

Business Fundamentals for Music­ians: Friday, March 10, 11am-4:30pm
Tech Fundamentals for Everyone: Saturday-Sunday, March 11-12, 11am-4:30pm
AT&T Executive Education & Con­fer­ence Center, 1900 University Ave.
Three days of classes help you think bigger and work smarter in the digital workplace. If you want your music to reach a bigger audience, try Friday's classes on music licensing, negotiating contracts, and how to promote yourself through social media. Saturday and Sunday cover basic coding, branding, data analytics, and anything else you need to beef up your résumé. RSVP online to attend.

Dewey Winburne Community Service Awards

Monday, March 13, 6-8pm
Radisson Austin Downtown Riverside Ballroom, 111 E. Cesar Chavez
The Community Service Awards honor individuals from around the world who have made a difference in their community using digital technology. This year's honorees have helped former convicts find work, fight against online trolling, hold governments more accountable, and more.

Free Outdoor Screenings*


Saturday, March 11, 7:30pm
Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside
It's the 20th anniversary of this documentary covering the humble beginnings and not-so-humble rise to prominence of grunge in the Nineties. Get to the screening early for a performance by the Seattle band Naked Giants at 7pm. Due to the wet weather, the performance and screening have been relocated inside to the Long Center's Rollins Theatre.

Cartoon Network Screenings

Monday, March 13, 8pm
Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside
Bring out the kids to this showing of brand-new episodes of Cartoon Network staples like We Bare Bears, The Amazing World of Gumball, and more.

Ghost in the Shell

Tuesday, March 14, 8pm
Long Center Terrace, 701 W. Riverside
No Scarlett Johansson here – this is an outdoor screening of the anime sci-fi tale of cybercrime and law enforcement that set the world on fire in 1995.

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