South by Southwest (SXSW)

by Akhil Kalepu

Mar 1, 2015

Wildflag at SXSW in Austin, Texas © Kris Krüg | Flickr

Top Trends

For those unfamiliar with the brand, South by Southwest is an arts and media conference set in Austin, Texas. What started as a simple festival grew to become a collection of SXSW events covering music, film, comedy, technology, education, start-ups and more. Quite simply, there is so much going on, it would be impossible for someone to partake in everything the gathering has to offer.


Wolf Man Performer on 6th Street at SXSW, Austin, Texas © Berkshots | Dreamstime 27432250

Wolf Man Performer on 6th Street at SXSW, Austin, Texas © Berkshots | Dreamstime


Its roots go back to 1986, when Ronald Swenson of The Austin Chronicle and New York City’s New Music Seminar wanted to do a Southwest version in Austin, which back then was much more under-the-radar as a city. Though it never got organized, Swenson went ahead and put together a local music festival, whose name was inspired by Alfred Hitchcock’s North by Northwest. He teamed up with Chronicle editor Louis Black and publisher Nick Barbaro, who are still key members of SXSW. Expecting around 150 attendees for their 1987 inauguration, the organizers were surprised to see a crowd of 700 show up for what they advertised as a regional event, with Black remarking “it was national almost immediately.”


Diplo at Sights and Sounds, SXSW in Austin, Texas © Nan Palmero | Flickr

Diplo at Sights and Sounds, SXSW in Austin, Texas © Nan Palmero | Flickr


Since then, SXSW has grown in both scope and ambition. Their film festival has hosted more than 50 world premiers, including the Academy Award-winning Hurt Locker. SXSW Interactive, which has been called a start-up accelerator, has showcased notable speakers from Mark Zuckerberg to Edward Snowden and Julien Assange. It also saw the launch of Foursquare and helped get some early traction for Twitter before hitting the mainstream.


Live Skype Q&A with NASA at SXSW in Austin, Texas © NASA Webb | Flickr

Live Skype Q&A with NASA at SXSW in Austin, Texas © NASA Webb | Flickr


At its heart, SXSW is still a music conference, with so many performances across the city no two people are going to have the same experience. In addition to tech start-ups, the festival has been known to serve as a launching pad for up-and-coming acts. John Mayer, The Polyphonic Spree and James Blunt were able to crossover into the mainstream thanks to performances there, though critics are starting to admonish the growing emphasis on mainstream entertainment. 2013’s gathering was marked by a high corporate presence in SXSW Interactive, with detractors like NPR’s Andrea Swensson saying the festival has, “strayed far away from its original premise as a grassroots gathering for new, undiscovered talent and increasingly feels like a big ol’ Times Square billboard-sized commercial.”



Insta Feed
Tips / Other
Aug 18, 2019

Different Ways to Prepare Shrimp

Shrimp is a summer staple. Seafood in general is consumed more during the summer because many travelers make their way to coastal destinations, but shrimp is king. Shrimp is added to many dishes and served in different forms. All summer, people purchase pounds of shrimp and cook them however they desire to go along with their meal. Several different ways to prepare shrimp are highlighted here to expose travelers to the world of shrimp.

Work and Play in Italy

Once business concludes, a world of wonder awaits in many of Italy’s incredible cities.

Destinations / Latin America
Aug 18, 2019

Most Instagrammable Spots in Viña del Mar

Viña del Mar is a charming coastal city located in central Chile. It’s home to many beachside attractions and plenty of cultural activities. Check out these spots when documenting your visit on Instagram.

Products / Travel
Aug 18, 2019

Toilo Toiletry Bag

The Toilo Toiletry Bag is marketed as the most functional toiletry bag ever. In fact, it’s the future of toiletry bags. With more than 20 features it’s billed as an all-in-one option for travelers and weekend warriors who need a sturdy bag for everyday use.

Pack Your Bags, You’re Going to Tokyo!

All Nippon Airways (ANA) is the largest airline in Japan. With flights from the United States to Japan and all of Asia, it's the perfect airline to book your next trip with. From ANA's amazing in-flight food to its excellent customer service, it comes as no surprise ANA has been awarded five stars for its seventh consecutive year by the SKYTRAX World Airline Rating.

Under $100 / North America
Aug 17, 2019

Under $100: Gettysburg

Start your explorations of Gettysburg with breakfast, but not just any breakfast. Gettysburg has many delightful bed and breakfasts worth a stay. If you book a stay at Baladerry Inn, you not only get a comfy, spacious guestroom in a historic home once a Civil War hospital, but you also dine on a scrumptious, hearty breakfast each morning, and it’s all included in your room rate.