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SXSW festival coming to Sydney in major coup

K-Pop stars dancing on stage

News today that SXSW, a creative person’s paradise, will hit Sydney next October has musicians, influencers and fans jumping for joy.

But what is SXSW? Why is it heading to Australia? And how can you be part of the action?

Read on to find out.

What is SXSW?

Billie Eilish, Melinda Gates, Snoop Dogg, Barack Obama, Jordan Peele, Dave Grohl, Michelle Obama, Taika Waititi, Brené Brown, Steven Spielberg, Lady Gaga, Prince, Ava DuVernay.

These are just some of the prominent people who have attended SXSW in the past.

It’s pronounced “south by south-west” and also referred to in colloquial terms as “south by”.

SXSW has also attracted big name Aussies. Guy Sebastian, Troye Sivan and Peking Duk are among some of the stars who’ve made the trip to Austin, Texas, in the past to be part of the event.

It’s been going since 1987 and was the first event of its kind when it kicked off in March that year.

Music was its original focus, but it has since expanded to include film and interactive events, making it an annual get-together where people working in music, film, animation, gaming, media, technology and culture converge for a number of conferences, shows, festivals and events.

SXSW is basically a place to get noticed if you’re an emerging music artist or creative.

It’s also an environment to network. The big wigs are all there. In fact, tens of thousands of people usually descend on Austin each year for the event.

It was started by a small group of people in the city who felt local talent had limited exposure – and they wanted to change that.

And change that they did. The event has since grown to boast the largest music festival of its kind in the world.

SXSW went online last year and in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic preventing in-person attendance. But it is returning to its former glory in March this year.

Why is it coming to Australia?

The event will still take place in the US next year. But Sydney has been chosen as the city to represent the Asia Pacific with a separate SXSW festival.

This is probably the biggest thing to hit Sydney since the Olympics in 2000 and it will mark the first time SXSW has been hosted outside North America.

The Sydney Opera House on Sydney Harbour with buildings in the background
This will mark the first time SXSW has ventured away from its North American home.(Destination NSW)

Destination NSW, which is the NSW government’s tourism and events agency, has managed to secure Sydney as the Asia-Pacific arm of SXSW, meaning this event will not be a one-off.

The plan is for an annual Sydney event to compliment the Texas one.

It’s a great opportunity for artists in the region to shine. SXSW has proven to be the boost some artists need to go from obscurity to household names. So this is huge for creatives in the Asia-Pacific region.

“It will put a spotlight on Sydney as the major events and creative industries capital of the Asia Pacific, as well as being its premier business and lifestyle destination,” NSW Tourism Minister Stuart Ayres said.

SXSW Sydney will run for a week from October 15 to 22, 2023. That’s seven days and seven nights of action.

How can I take part or get tickets?

A SXSW Sydney website has been set up to register your interest and find out how you can get involved.