From its roots as a humble regional music conference to the cross-discipline behemoth it’s become, South by Southwest is an ever-evolving beast.
Here is what’s new with the festival in 2018.
1. The red-yellow-green system that allows users to check the current status of film screenings is being expanded to indicate a panel room or a music venue’s remaining capacity.
This function can be found on the SXSW GO phone app, the online SXSW schedule, and on the digital event status boards located around the Austin Convention Center and other venues. This system — used for many years for film screenings — applies to conference sessions and festival events. Green means there is plenty of room; yellow means hurry; red means full.
Both the SXSW GO app and the online schedule at schedule.sxsw.com will show room size information as small, medium or large for any venue to help you plan your schedule. Small means 249 and fewer people; medium means 250 to 599; large means more than 600.
2. SXXpress (South by Express) is now online-only.
SXXpress is a priority pass program for SXSW Platinum, Film and Music registrants that allows preferential access to Music and Film festival programming.
SXXpress passes allow eligible badgeholders to gain admission to film screenings ahead of everyone else in various lines, or go to the head of the primary access line for music showcases (admission still not guaranteed but more likely). They used to be physical tickets. Now, it’s a digital pass. Reserve your SXXpress passes in the SXSW GO app and in the online schedule 24 hours in advance of an event.
3. The Austin Film Society Cinema is back as a SXSW satellite venue.
Out of commission while it was being redone, the AFS Cinema is once again a SXSW venue. Because it is off the beaten path and is not serviced by the SXSW shuttles, it is an ideal location for locals or wristband holders to check out movies. Films screening there over the festival include such buzzy fare as the Blaze Foley biopic “Blaze” and Stanley Tucci’s “Final Portrait.”
4. Behold, the Wellness Expo!
Good health will always be in fashion. So check out the new Wellness Expo, which, as SXSW puts it, “brings together thousands of SXSW attendees interested in healthy living and companies in the continually growing health and wellness industry.” Think herbs, vitamins, fitness gear, natural beauty products, specialty diets and, yes, “energy healers.” The two-day event (March 10-11) is at the Palmer Events Center and is open to the public via the SXSW guest pass, which you can get at guestpass.sxsw.com.
5. And the Fairmont Hotel.
The Fairmont Hotel Austin is set to open in time to provide 1,048 new hotel rooms and lots of conference space for SXSW. SXSW Interactive director Hugh Forrest recently told the American-Statesman that content that has typically been found at the Hyatt Austin Downtown would move to the Fairmont.
6. Lyft and Uber will be back around, lazybones.
In addition to local ride-hailing services such as Ride Austin, Fasten, pedicabs and good old-fashioned taxis.