SXSW takes over Austin, Tex., once again this weekend, with film, music, technology and more. How to make sense of it all? Here, our guide to what to expect from the festival, and how to make the most of your time in Austin.
1. The Line is the latest boutique addition to the city’s hotel landscape since last year’s festival, but even if you’ve already booked your stay elsewhere, you can still swing by the renovated historic building to check out the river and Town Lake views from the newly opened rooftop bar, P6. Located one block over from the Convention Center, the elegant space reflects a serene oasis, outfitted with distressed light wood, lush greenery, and pink and green tones. The outdoor terrace provides a relaxed setting to take in the surrounding city skyline while sipping on a cocktail crafted by beverage director Brian Floyd or to enjoy a dish from executive chef Justin Ermini’s Mediterranean-inspired menu.
“We wanted to reclaim the best view in the house from the parking garage and open it up for the public to enjoy. P6 is a lakeside home for both locals and visitors, and a tribute to many of the things we fell in love with about this building and this city,” says Sydell Group founder and chief executive officer Andrew Zobler, who’s also behind trendy New York hotels such as the NoMad and the Freehand.
2. Wherever you go, there Goop is. The retail offshoot of Gwyneth Paltrow’s holistic lifestyle brand, Goop Mrkt, has popped up in Austin in a rustic-chic space at 1204 South Congress Avenue, supplying all of the clean beauty products, energy supplements, and luxury clothing and accessories one might need during the festival and through April 28. In addition to its product selection, the pop-up will also host a series of special events, from flash facials, workouts, aura and crystal readings to a citywide scavenger hunt during the second weekend of SXSW. If you look hard enough, you might just find yourself.
3. Go off-the-beaten-path in Austin with Atlas Obscura. The brand is hosting its first activation at SXSW, bringing guests outside to showcase the city’s lesser-known sights. In addition to its curated list of “cool, hidden and unusual things to do in Austin” — 28 of them at that — Atlas Obscura has also teamed with Gore-Tex and Ghostly International for In the Element on March 13 and 14. During the two-day event, guests will have an opportunity to demo products during outdoor activities such as biking to Barton Springs, a trail run, and sunset kayaking trip to watch the bats emerge from under the Congress Avenue Bridge. It might not be a midnight showing, but it’s close enough.
4. After taking in the city’s bat action, head over to Javelina at 69 Rainey Street for Audible and Broadway Video’s decidedly un-spooky Night Realm Tavern. The medieval-themed tavern serves as an immersive environment for new comedic audio series “Heads Will Roll” from Kate McKinnon and her sister Emily Lynne Berthold, complete with themed food, drink and audio sampling. The space will be open to the public from noon to 8 p.m. on March 8 through 10.
5. MindBody is teaming with Wanderlust Yoga and Dance House Fitness to get SXSW attendees moving the morning of March 10 at 10:30 a.m. Wanderlust will get things started with a half hour of vinyasa yoga in downtown Austin’s Republic Square (422 Guadalupe Street) followed by 40 minutes of dance cardio. And the event’s early birds won’t walk away empty-handed — the first 100 attendees will be gifted a wellness swag bag.
6. If you’re in the mood for casual Italian, new Hyde Park restaurant Uncle Nicky’s, from the same team behind Juniper and Nickel City, is here to provide. Located at 4222 Duval Street, the northern Italian menu features a selection of pano tostato topped with ingredients such as duck mayo Calabrian sausage and raisin and fig jam, and salads and sandwiches. Plus, the restaurant is open seven days a week from 7 a.m. to midnight, accommodating the off-hours eating SXSW often requires.
7. The roaming women-focused pop-up conference Create & Cultivate returns to Austin on March 10 with panels featuring actress Natasha Lyonne, Tan France and Paige Adams-Geller of Paige apparel. The Create & Cultivate pop-up will be housed at The Allan House, at 1104 San Antonio Street.
8. Movies to keep an eye on: SXSW continues to prove itself as a growing major platform in the film world. Last year’s festival launched “The Quiet Place” and “Blockers,” with “The Disaster Artist” and “Baby Driver” stealing the scene in 2017. One of this year’s most anticipated films, which the festival reportedly begged for before landing, kicks things off tonight: “Us,” director Jordan Peele’s follow-up to “Get Out,” stars Lupita Nyong’o and Winston Duke.
Other potential blockbusters to watch for include Olivia Wilde’s directorial debut “Booksmart,” starring Kaitlyn Dever and Beanie Feldstein, and “The Beach Bum,” with Matthew McConaughey, Snoop Dogg, Zac Efron, Isla Fisher and Jonah Hill.
9. And yes, there’s music, too.
The second weekend of the festival shifts its focus to music, with myriad performances and panels. The music portion is much more experimental and loose than film, with a wide-reaching global pull (acts from more than 60 countries will perform). Not to miss is Shirley Manson of Garbage in conversation with Chvrches’ Lauren Mayberry, on March 14.