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Special event permit applications for Austin's SXSW are down by nearly 50% this year

On Tuesday, the Austin Center for Events released this year's list of special event permit applications for the month of March. It reveals a predictably quieter South by Southwest party season. 

In 2020, before the pandemic forced closures of bars and clubs, the city received 183 special events applications for what they call "Spring Festival Season," which corresponds with the dates of SXSW. So far this year, the city has received 97 applications for events that will take place during SXSW (including SXSW Edu). The original application deadline of Feb. 7 was extended to Feb. 11. 

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Amy Taylor of the Melbourne, Australia, punk band Amyl and the Sniffers performs at the Levitation Party at Hotel Vegas during SXSW on Thursday March 14, 2019.

The most glaring absence from the special permit list so far is the Fader Fort. But that doesn't mean we won't see the event that has hosted everyone from Miley Cyrus to Drake pop up as an official SXSW event at a venue like Stubb's. Organizers do not need to apply for permits for events that take place in bars or restaurants that have live music permits year round.

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Notable events on the list this year include official SXSW applications for outdoor music shows at Lady Bird Lake and Waterloo Park. SXSW is also teaming up with Disney+ to host outdoor screenings at the Long Center. Dr. Martens plans to take over Container Bar, the Samsung Galaxy House will be at Smash ATX and TwitterHouse will be at Lustre Pearl. Cheetos is hosting the Hands Free House at Austin Gardens (formerly Volcom Garden) and the CNN House will be at Bungalow.

A few favorite side parties that we already knew about, including Lucy's Fried Chicken and South by San Jose, are on the list. And if you're into splashy activations, Giant Spoon, the company behind SXSW's immersive HBO events for "Westworld" and "Game of Thrones," is planning something at the baseball fields at West Austin Youth Association (WAYA). 

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