Listen to Austin 360 Radio

SXSW unveils virtual recreations of downtown Austin for 2021 online fest

Eric Webb
Austin 360
A view on Congress Avenue from South by Southwest's virtual world for their 2021 XR experience.

Can't party in person this year for South by Southwest, but this might be the next best thing. The festival on Tuesday revealed an XR world for the 2021 online event — and they've recreated downtown Austin landmarks from Congress Avenue to Red River Street in virtual reality.

The term XR, also known as extended reality, covers virtual reality, augmented reality and mixed reality. SXSW, which has increasingly ventured into that space, this year worked with artists and the studio VRrOOm to recreate venues like the Paramount Theatre, the Contemporary Austin, Mohawk, Empire Control Room & Garage and Cedar Street Courtyard as virtual spaces. Inside them, fest attendees will be able to see some live panels; go to meet-ups and special events; and watch virtual cinema programming and 2-D video feeds of SXSW programming, according to a news release. The fest's XR experience will be hosted on VRChat and available via PC, PCVR and Oculus Quest headsets.

More SXSW:George W. Bush, Pete Buttigieg, Ava DuVernay to appear at SXSW 2021

View of Red River Street from South by Southwest's XR world for the 2021 event.

“SXSW really wanted to create a space in the virtual world that brought Austin to life in a spectacular way,” Blake Kammerdiener, XR and film programmer for the fest, said in a statement.

The fest also announced a slate of XR programming, including sessions and virtual cinema events. Check out the lineup at sxsw.com.

If you're not looking to dive into the XR world, you don't need a fancy headset for SXSW Online. You'll be able to watch regular programming — like that Willie Nelson keynote — through web, mobile and TV app platforms.

Miss rooftop parties at the Contemporary Austin's Jones Center downtown? It's been recreated for South by Southwest's XR experience.

Movies at the fest:Tom Petty, Charli XCX docs coming to SXSW Film 2021: see the full lineup